Ron Miller's Practice Guide for Music
I know from personal experience that it’s easy to get one’s music practice intertwined in an unhealthy way with one’s sense of self and self-worth. With that as a framework, the following, written in 1991 by jazz composer, teacher, and author Ron Miller, is one of the healthiest meditations I’ve ever read on the practice of music-making. This should be required reading for anyone working with or in music in any regard, particularly students.
I could imagine that this might rub some people the wrong way, because I can say with certainty that it wouldn’t have sat well at all with a younger version of me. My ego was very intertwined with my musical aims and desires then, and I was not trying to hear messages about humility or holding things with a light grasp. If you find yourself bristling or feeling dismissive after reading this, perhaps feeling that it’s an unserious perspective, I would urge you to sit with that for a while and see if you can get to the root of it. You might discover something illuminating or helpful there.
Advanced Improv Practice Guide — Ron Miller, 1991
Before starting your daily practice routine, read and seriously consider the following:
A. DAILY AFFIRMATIONS
How fortunate I am that in this life I am one who has been allowed to create beauty with music.
It is my responsibility to create peace, beauty, and love with music.
B. I WILL BE KIND TO MYSELF
IT IS ONLY MUSIC
No matter my level of development in music, how good or bad I think I play, it is only music and I am a beautiful person.
I will not compare myself with my colleagues; if they play beautifully I will enjoy it and be thankful and proud that I am a member of their brotherhood.
There will always be someone with more musical abilities than my own as there will be those with less.
C. REASONS TO DO MUSIC
To contribute to the world’s spiritual growth.
To contribute to my own self-discovery and spiritual growth.
To pay homage to all great musicians, past and present, who have added beauty to the world.
D. RID YOURSELF OF THE FOLLOWING REASONS FOR BEING A MUSICIAN
To create self-esteem
To be “hip”
To get rich or famous
You can find Ron’s original PDF of this here.
Thanks, dear Ron — jamie