Today, I'm going to write about practice. I have a performance session with my teacher, Rebecca Folsom, tomorrow, so for the past several days I have been practicing a list of seven songs that I want to consider adding to my set lists. In our performance sessions, I set up my little stage in the basement--two-channel amp, lights, etc.--so I can simulate an actual performance as much as possible. This ritual has helped me immeasurably in getting used to working under lights and being comfortable with sound systems. I have learned how to dance around a microphone and still stay on it so the sound is even. So, practice is not just about getting the songs down. It's also about practicing them in a "performance" setting, too.

I've found that I need to play a new song about twenty times to get the words and music synchronized and tight. Fifty times is better. I'm amazed how long it takes to get to the point where I have the song "in my bones" to the point where I can just relax and play in front of an audience. This is my main way to prevent stage-fright from paralyzing me. If I've got a song "down," I can roll with the mistakes I make, not get flustered, and even be creative in filling in while I wait to remember the words. :-)

Once I get a list of songs ingrained, practice stops being work and becomes sheer joy. The experience is stripped of frustration and becomes a graceful dance. 

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