There are many things that happen as time begins to slant toward autumn. The angle of light changes and everything is cast in a faded lemony yellow. Slowly we are losing our long and warm summer evenings. We have to hurry to the garden after dinner to get any weeding done and walks are often in the cool of the twilight. The pulse of the summer pace is quickening.
It feels like yesterday that we finished teaching our school year schedules and eased into the more relaxed summer routines. Recitals and end of year concerts are over and the sigh of relaxing is perceptible.
Interestingly, it seems that when things are at fever pitch is the time when I am most efficient with my practicing. I find pockets of time to tuck practice in between students- I become more focused and diligent about utilizing my free space to work with my own instrument. When I am in summer mode it becomes harder to feel pushed to get to the cello. Aren't there still tomatoes to pick? And this heat makes it a perfect day to take the dog to the river for a swim. I become the practicer that I discourage my students from being, the “leave it to the last minute” practicer.
What this normally means is that I end up working late into the night. Entering the dark studio becomes the challenge, the music is silent on my stand, it seems that where during the daytime hours it is calling me, exciting me with possibilities, in the nighttime it seems very still, as if to say “why not tomorrow?” Sheer stubbornness (and, okay, a performance looming) makes me get to it and I find I pass through degrees of both simply being awake and yawning in tempo, into focus and intensity. Although it sounds like a good teacher to say “so- practicing really does excite me”, there is something about feeling the music move under my fingers and watching struggle morph into success that drives me forward.
Albert Einstein once said that the reason people enjoy chopping wood is because the results are apparent and immediate. In many ways I find that is true of practicing as well. If you use your time efficiently and zero in on problem areas of your studies you will feel, at some point, movement in your progress. It is part of the path to mastery and, while necessary, it is also quite thrilling and addictive.
And so, while I will miss the warm days and the slower pace, I also know what is coming, I feel the rhythms changing and look forward to, perhaps, practicing in the daylight.