The LMusA Diploma Journey – Update #7 – Taking The Pressure Off

Morning (or evening depending on where you are) folks!

Well, I’ve come to the realisation that this journey of progressing towards the LMusA is going to take a little longer than I’d anticipated at the start of this year. And that’s fine. I’m not under any time constraints with this – there’s no “must do” here, there’s no tangible, external reason for undertaking this. No outside force saying “you must do this, before you can do this” or anything like that. It’s purely an internal reason. That’s to say this is really largely about the journey for me and seeing how far I can take my playing. And that internal reasoning, in the past, has caused more pressure than an external driver! I can be a real pain in the backside to my own self sometimes! Or used to, I should say.

I have absolutely no doubt that I can achieve the LMusA. I say that without an ounce of arrogance and quite seriously. It’s just a matter of time. Well, that’s not quite correct. It’s a matter of putting in the right amount of quality practice with my chosen repertoire pieces to really get to know them, understand them, feel them, subsume them into my psyche. This does, of course, have a time element associated with it.

Like most of you (probably, I’m making assumptions here of course), dear reader, I too have a “normal” life, a non-guitar life. At the start of this year I actually ceased teaching and freelancing to focus on an exciting employment opportunity. So as well as working towards my own guitar goals and playing development, I’m also working a 40 hours (minimum) managerial level job that takes me around the country, with all the exciting and sometimes stressful challenges that go along with that. Plus, you know, family life, keeping fit and healthy, having time out for myself, looking after the dog, painting my apartment, looking for a new house to move to for a bit of a tree-change and all of that!

So as important and a significant part of my life as playing classical guitar is, I’ve realised, however, one has to be flexible with these things. If you want to set a strict timeline for yourself and you find that a really good driver for yourself personally, go for it and all power to you! For myself though, over the last few years I’ve realised I thrive and develop and actually play at my best when I take some of the pressure off of myself. In this instance this is a time pressure. I’ve released the pressure valve by saying ” you know Nicole, you know when you’ll be ready. Keep working whenever you can, in that focussed manner and we’ll get there. No rush. No due date”.

I’ve found that when I get the time to practice, which I still aim to do most days of the week in some form or other, I’m super focussed on what I’m doing. I’ve also found my output (for want of a better term) is almost fast-tracked relative to the time I put in – I’m focusing on quality practice, sorting out niggles. I’m focussing on beautiful sound, and a clarity in my sound. I’m focussing on clarity of direction.  As a result of releasing the pressure from myself, I’m having a lot of fun with it, it’s adding a new dimension to my playing, and my playing is better than ever!

Dear readers –  What are your drivers? Do you need to release any pressure or tension – actual, perceived, physical, mental? And if so, where?  Some food for thought……



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