I’m a morning person and even though the alarm goes off every morning at the ungodly hour of 4:50 am, I’m frequently awake before it sounds. We then head out the door and go for two-mile walk down Ala Moana Boulevard, all the way to Restaurant Row and back. So, it was a little unusual that at 5 am this morning I was not on Ala Moana Boulevard — I was sitting at the organ, practicing the Peter Klatzow “Magnificat,” which I wrote about in an earlier post. That’s because we have a rehearsal tonight (Monday) due to it being Thanksgiving week. Of course we won’t have our usual Thursday night choir rehearsal!
It was 28 years ago, though, that I spent eight months practicing every morning at 5 am before going to work. That was the year I gave a memorized all-Bach recital and in those days, the alarm went off at 4 am! We used to live on the Windward side, so it took me an hour to get ready and drive over the Pali in order to be sitting at the organ at 5 am. I also went back to the organ after work for more practice so it was up to Carl to take care of our then-toddler son.
As an adult, I find the act of practicing to be very satisfying — learning then mastering new music as well as resurrecting pieces in my repertoire. I remember our late organist friend, James Holloway, who said that practicing can be very therapeutic, and in fact was a heckuva lot cheaper than going to a psychiatrist!
For the year and a half after we got married, I spent six hours a day practicing for my first all-Bach memorized recital, and when I was in France studying with Marcel Dupré, I spent six to eight hours a day at the organ. I guess I must have been very happy in those days, doing nothing but practicing!
My mother, who died last year at age 93, spent the last ten years of her life resurrecting her music which she had put on hiatus for six decades. After she retired from practicing medicine, she used to practice music three hours a day — an hour and a half each on piano and harp. She also found practicing music at once challenging and satisfying, and a way to keep her mind and body active.
But — how many hours a day should you practice? I just found a fascinating article by Dr. Noa Kageyama on this very subject, which you can find by clicking here. He claims that Artur Rubinstein said one shouldn’t practice more than four hours a day. Another great quote in the article was by Leopold Auer: “Practice with your fingers and you need all day. Practice with your mind and you will do as much in 1 1/2 hours.”