keeping the momentum

another guest article from my husband, glenn.

sometimes it’s good to get a break to freshen us up. the typical situation is work; sometimes a holiday away from things will give us a much fresher energy level and revitalize us.

another is the responsibility of being a parent. especially for parents of young babies, the chance to get away and be “free” even just for a few hours can be priceless. we can return renewed, with fresh patience and renewed energy.

there are other situations where a break works the other way, where it can stymie the momentum that we had were building or had accumulated.

who of us haven’t started an exercise routine or a diet, only to lose the routine after a month? or flossing; there’s always that evening when we’re really tired, it’s late, and we think, i’ll just skip flossing tonight. in no time we’re only flossing once a week, and by the time our checkup rolls around the dental hygienist says, your gums look tender; are you flossing every day? umm, well, not every day.

i have a number of fairly ingrained habits, some bad, like smoking, some good, like music. the problem is that good ones like music require dedication and diligence. basically self-discipline, especially right now since i’m not a member of any regularly rehearsing bands.

the bands that i am playing with are either sporadic or i am only a sub, filling in when a regular member cannot make a particular rehearsal or gig. i play saxophone and bass, and for sax i need to play regularly because i use a setup that includes a fairly hard reed.

this means that if i’m not playing on a regular basis my lip muscles (what musicians refer to as embouchure) deteriorate and i am unable to play long rehearsals or gigs. plus, i have a long ways to go to get to the point where i one day hope to achieve with my playing and if i don’t practice, i ain’t gonna get there. like the new yorker replied to the tourist’s question of how to get to carnegie hall; practice, practice, practice.

so i have to be careful when i start to lose enthusiasm for practicing. i don’t have regular rehearsals with others to force me to play. taking a break is not always a bad thing as sometimes i can generate a little more enthusiasm and energy for playing, but boy, i can lose a lot of muscle tone/endurance fast, which makes the first few times of playing again a brief, difficult and frustrating experience, so i pay for the layoff.

the big thing that i have to avoid is that last break, the one where i find myself unable to get myself started again. it happened once before, and it took 13 years before i generated enough desire to start again. even then i needed prodding (recurring dreams about being in a band), help (joining a community college band for force me to play regularly), and a couple of years before i started to feel some level of comfort with my playing.

if i let the momentum peter out, it’s a heck of a job getting the ball rolling again.

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