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Goals and the Environment

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By Colette Hapi

A few years ago, I took up the drums as a hobby. Initially, I was enamored with both the instrument and with the novelty of trying something new. Practice time was fun and frictionless to the point where I envisioned myself becoming one of the most popular modern female drummers; it would only take one or two years and I’d be at the top. Wishful thinking doesn’t even begin to describe my thoughts. As you can imagine, life didn’t quite turn out the way I envisioned. After a couple of months, not only did I plateau, but I found myself dreading my practice time. Just thinking about sitting on a drum seat that had lost its plush in a room I considered to be cold and uninviting because I had somehow managed to turn it into a mini storage unit…just thinking about having to locate my sticks, my headphones, and my tablet…Sigh. Discouragement slowly set in, and I’d find myself thinking, “maybe tomorrow.” Tomorrow became tomorrow became tomorrow until it became two weeks; before I knew it, I would do in one month what I used to do in one week. Needless to say, I didn’t meet my deadline for achieving greatness!

Recently, I decided it might be time to pick up the sticks again and to do so more consistently. While aimlessly perusing the internet, I fell upon a book called How to Effectively Practice as a Musician by Benny Grebb. My first thought was, “it’s official; Google has ascended to the status of mind-reader.” My second thought was, “describing myself as a musician might be a bit of stretch at this point.” Nevertheless, I scurried to my room, located my credit card, and made the purchase. About a third of the way into the book, Grebb talks about the importance of creating an environment that supports your goals so that your practice can flow with the least amount of friction. The more friction there is, the harder it is to not only reach but even to just get started with our tasks. This hit me right in the face; no wonder I wasn’t looking forward to practicing – there were too many hurdles to me actually sitting behind the kit, not to mention the cold, dreary, and lackluster room. Nothing about the environment spoke of creativity, which made it hard for me to be creative. 

Taking Grebb’s advice, I made a couple of changes: 

  • I found another storage space in the house and completely cleared out my practice room
  • I purchased:
    • a sound-absorbing mat to avoid any complaints
    • a notebook dedicated to drumming
    • a dedicated music tablet, as well as headphones and additional drumsticks 
    • a music stand so I can stop trying to find unorthodox ways for the book to stay open while I attempt to play through its pages
    • an air freshener because I enjoy the smell of fresh laundry

It’s been a few weeks since I implemented these changes, but I’ve looked forward to practicing more lately than in the past few months. Stepping into a room that is ready-made has done wonders for my progress. Am I ready to go on tour? Maybe not, but I’m at least looking forward to the process. This whole experience has really made me see that if you’re not in a conducive environment, it can be hard to reach your goals.   

Erica MechlinskiGoals and the Environment

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