Other Inspirations to Practice Music – Strings By Mail

Other Inspirations to Practice Music


This article is about some ideas that developed before I was the owner of Strings By Mail. They helped some of my students at the Interlochen Arts Academy to stay inspired about practicing during those times when they might not be inspired enough to pick up the instrument for the usual reason of practicing to become a better player. Perhaps they can apply for you, the reader, or your students. At those times perhaps you could be inspired instead by thinking about how it’s making you a better human being. I want to provide three examples of that.

John Wunsch With His Interlochen Guitar Students

John Wunsch With His Interlochen Guitar Students


The first is that playing and practicing is putting us in the state of mind, and helping us to learn to achieve the state of mind, that the great mystics have encouraged in their followers on the path to enlightenment throughout the ages. The second is it brings us face to face with, and thereby gives us the opportunity to overcome, what is widely regarded as one of the greatest challenges of being human. And third it teaches us to think and perceive in the ways that the greatest minds have thought and perceived throughout history.

So let me elaborate: that state of mind of the Mystics? It’s being one with the experience we are in. It’s being completely present in the now. It’s what happens when we’re focused on what we’re doing without distraction, releasing potential distractions as they come up and we suddenly feel like two hours was only five minutes.

The challenge, the great challenge, we face is the ego, for when else are we more tempted to compare ourselves. We tend to look at the person who’s more advanced than we are and potentially become discouraged. Or we look at them and start picking at their flaws to bring them down closer to us. Or we look at the person who is currently not as advanced as we are and we think “At least I’m doing better than they are”, and sort of push them down in a way to lift ourselves up. Instead, we could be looking at that person who is more advanced and be purely inspired, not bothering about their flaws but looking at the beauty to carry us forward and lift us up. And we could look at the person who’s currently not as advanced and just think about how much better they could get and help encourage them. We have the choice whether to let this inevitable juxtaposition become a comparative competition driving us all downward or an inspiring awareness of unity that lifts us all upward.

Now this most outrageous claim, to think and perceive in the ways of the greatest minds, I’m going to need backup on this, so I will bring to the witness stand, Albert Einstein, a man with one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century. He changed our perception forever, especially through his relativity theory, and here’s what he had to say about the discovery of the relativity theory: He said, “My discovery was the result of intuition and music was the driving force behind that intuition. My discovery was the result of musical perception.” ‘Musical Perception’, he’s not talking about making your hands work better, not talking about memorizing a great piece of music, he’s talking about truth. He is talking about how when we bring a balance between our own emotions and the structure of the piece, and represent it accurately through expression in dynamic, rubato, and vibrato, that we create such truth that it reaches directly to the heart of our listeners. Much as he had to balance the forces he was picturing in his mind and his being of Physics in a way that was musical enough for it to be true.
So the next time you need a little extra inspiration maybe one of these ideas will help. I wish you an inspired practice and I thank you for reading.

2 thoughts on “Other Inspirations to Practice Music – Strings By Mail

  1. Hi John!

    I just read your article about not to lose the inspiration to practice! And I did found it exactly very inspiring. I am so pleased and charmed for all the articles, and multi activities you develop through Strings By Mail, and I obviously am very happy to belong to this house.
    Always a great motivation, thank you!
    Greetings from Irene Gomez

  2. HI Irene: I am so glad you liked it. Please feel free to share it with your friends & students. By the way we are going to feature “Theme for Irene” in our newsletter April 15th. It is a lovely piece and we appreciate that you have brought it to Strings By Mail.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please fill in the number below: *