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Old 03-28-2009, 09:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
Young Crumudgeon
Martian's Avatar
Location: Canada
Musicians - How do you find the time?

So, life's taken a few turns for me lately, as my fans will know. I am now living with my girlfriend of 8 months (holy crap, it doesn't feel like it's been that long), I've started work on a different program which takes me away from the telemarketing and puts me in more of a customer service role, and things are generally picking up socially. All of this is eating into my music time; I'm finding it harder to find the time to really just sit down and jam.

I'm going to have a dedicated music room in the near future, and I'm hoping that will help, but where before the idea of going longer than 24 hours without picking up a guitar was strange, now I find myself going days at a stretch. My mornings tend to be full with errands and other assorted activities, I work all afternoon and then when I get home I basically cook dinner and go to bed. I'm still playing 4 or 5 times per week, but even those sessions are usually only 40 minutes to an hour, max. Versus daily and often for two or three hours at a stretch, this is a huge change.

How do you guys and gals find the time to hone your craft and work on your creative endeavours? What specific strategies do you use?

My plan once I have a 'studio' to work in is just to shut myself away for part of the day. I'm also looking at moving to days at work -- somehow it seems like if I work 8-4 I'll be able to find more time in the evening to do the things I want to do. I spend the same 8 hours at work either way, so I don't know if that's rational, but somehow it makes sense to me.

Well, 'fess up.
I wake up in the morning more tired than before I slept
I get through cryin' and I'm sadder than before I wept
I get through thinkin' now, and the thoughts have left my head
I get through speakin' and I can't remember, not a word that I said

- Ben Harper, Show Me A Little Shame
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Old 03-28-2009, 10:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Location: ....a state of pure inebriation.
Well, I've been jobless for quite a while now, so it hasn't been too hard to find the time.

A few months ago was a different story though. I was spending ten to twelve hours a day, six days a week at work, I had a girlfriend, and I had a band that practiced four or five days a week. Personal practice was at least two hours a day.

Basically, I slept two to three hours a night max, my girlfriend simply had to understand that I wasn't willing to give up my music for her, and that most of our time spent together would be spent at band practice or watching me jam the same two or three songs for hours (Probably one of the reasons I'm single now=p), I had to cut my party time down to maybe once a week at most, and, frankly, I was brutally exhausted all the time.

It was a fucking fulfilling way of life though, I tell you! I'll probably be living like that again very soon being as I have some promising job opportunities showing up, and once we find a capable drummer Gweeze Disease and the STD's (new band name) will be going full throttle.

I shake with excitement at the thought of it...
"The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion..." - Henry Steel Commager

"Punk rock music is great music played by really bad, drunk musicians." -Fat Mike
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Old 03-29-2009, 06:23 AM   #3 (permalink)
Leaning against the -Sun-
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Location: on the other side
I work 8-9 hour days Mon to Fri and I rehearse once or twice a week with my guitar player and once or twice on my own for a couple of hours at a time, and play gigs about 2 to 3 nights a week. I also try and keep my art work going, and I'm writing a dissertation.

I have very little time for practice, which is a shame, but I can't really make that much time right now.

Evidence of my lack of practice is my inability to progress much on guitar and no time for writing my own music. Haven't done that for years now. It's sad.

Music is a tough activity because mostly you can't only do that and make a living...

If you do have the time, sitting yourself down and actually making the effort to put a few hours into playing and fiddling on your instrument of choice is the best way to get a routine of sorts and find a rhythm again.
Whether we write or speak or do but look
We are ever unapparent. What we are
Cannot be transfused into word or book.
Our soul from us is infinitely far.
However much we give our thoughts the will
To be our soul and gesture it abroad,
Our hearts are incommunicable still.
In what we show ourselves we are ignored.
The abyss from soul to soul cannot be bridged
By any skill of thought or trick of seeming.
Unto our very selves we are abridged
When we would utter to our thought our being.
We are our dreams of ourselves, souls by gleams,
And each to each other dreams of others' dreams.

Fernando Pessoa, 1918
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Old 03-29-2009, 06:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
Eat your vegetables
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Location: Arabidopsis-ville
I'm just a vocalist now.
I haven't taken the time to tinker with a piano or to practice my mandolin. So I won't perform with them.

But my voice - I can't help but to take it everywhere with me. I can practice as I'm walking to and from campus, or while I'm working in the lab. I can sing at my desk.
We meet Sunday mornings 1/2 hour before Mass to run through the set, then perform without too many issues.
"Sometimes I have to remember that things are brought to me for a reason, either for my own lessons or for the benefit of others." Cynthetiq

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Old 03-29-2009, 07:29 AM   #5 (permalink)
warrior bodhisattva
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Location: East-central Canada
Well, I can't quite call myself a musician, but I'm certainly one who is trying to learn an instrument.

I know your situation exactly, as I've gotten busy at times so far beyond my 9-5 that I'm lucky to have had time to unwind--period--let alone pursue something such as a regular, engaging practice. But those situations are few and far between, and so I have few real excuses as to why I don't practice more.

However, I think much of this (at least in my case) is more of a motivational issue than a time issue. I tend to be an all or nothing kind of person, and so if I don't have a 1-hour block where I'm good and ready, I tend not to spend anytime at all. I think this is a mistake.

I received some good advice when it comes to practicing, from you, Martian, the last time you visited. You pretty much said that as long as you can pick up the instrument in your hands, even for a few minutes, it's better than nothing. I need to do that. But I'd like to take it even further. In cases where I know I might not be able to practice much, I can do other things related to music: I now have a number of instructional books in my library. I should start bringing these along with me whenever I know I'll have idle time. On my daily commute, for example. I've also been known to bring books with me while shopping with others, knowing that they'd not need my undivided attention during those hours of wandering around shops, and during those drives between locations.

If I don't have my instrument in my hands, I should at least have music in my head.

This idea reminds me of advice I heard about from a famous and seasoned author to an inspiring one when asked how much time should be spent working on the writing craft....the answer was 24 hours a day.
Knowing that death is certain and that the time of death is uncertain, what's the most important thing?
—Bhikkhuni Pema Chödrön

Humankind cannot bear very much reality.
—From "Burnt Norton," Four Quartets (1936), T. S. Eliot
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Old 03-29-2009, 07:33 AM   #6 (permalink)
see the links to my music?
Fly's Avatar
Location: Beautiful British Columbia
it's been quite awhile now for me since i've been able to jam with either of my bands,let alone any practice on my own........studio has all but dried up lately.

waaaaaaaay too many things in life going on right now and they are not all pretty.....so my music has taken a beating too.

and i miss it terribly

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Old 03-29-2009, 07:40 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Location: essex ma
ugh. this is a problem.

i haven't been practicing too much over the past year, but i've been doing some performances anyway--i think it's been functional, though frustrating at the same time.
by coindicence, last night i listened to some recordings i made in philadelphia, where i had a very regular practice routine. i had't heard them for a long time, but i could tell right away that i'm not working at the same technical level. the advantage of this process has been that i've been able to radically change direction in terms of the sound i'm working with, but particularly after last night, i'm thinking it's time to start cranking up again.

practicing seems to me as much a way to condition muscles in your hands and arms as anything else, so that in a performance you can go where the situation requires.
there's an approach to playing that effectively argues: if you feel effort, you're wasting energy.
that's how i think about it too.

my routine was basically an hour at full speed every day.
the next routine will involve having a piano in my space, so will probably be a bit more spread out.
it seems to me that the important thing is routine, just doing it every day or close to it, rather than worrying about doing it.

but yeah---not having a routine up is starting to get to me.
so i fully understand the problem.
a gramophone its corrugated trumpet silver handle
spinning dog. such faithfulness it hear

it make you sick.

-kamau brathwaite
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Old 03-30-2009, 10:48 AM   #8 (permalink)
Master Thief. Master Criminal. Masturbator.
Location: Windiwana
time? what the fuck is that?
First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for me And there was no one left to speak out for me.
-Pastor Martin Niemoller
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Old 03-30-2009, 11:25 AM   #9 (permalink)
Found my way back
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Location: South Africa
Simply put, I haven't been finding it at all. I've been neglecting my drums for far too long. I've finally added some other stuff to the room they're in so the sound is much better. I've also started seeing a dude who's pretty good, and my playing has definitely improved.

The hardest thing is getting into a routine. I only get home around 6 in the evening and the complex we're living is very anti-noise. Basically I can't play after 8, which gives me less than a two-hour window to get some practice time in.

mandy and I want to start gym in the evenings now as well, so it's going to be even more difficult going forward.
Originally Posted by The_Jazz
Ok - can I edit my posts to read "what healer said"?
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Old 03-30-2009, 05:03 PM   #10 (permalink)
Big & Brassy
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Location: The "Canyon"
I'm just picking up my axe after nearly a decade away from it (see avatar). I work 40+ hours, have 2 kids, and attempt to spend time with Mrs. Coaster. Plus, the average evening, the kids hit the hay about 7:30, so weeknight practice is out. I find usually only one day a week to set any serious practice in.

As it is, however, when I put the horn down, I had come up to a very high level. Not high enough to make a living at it, but pretty high. Even with minimum practice, I'm surprised at how well it has come back. I'm nowhere near where I used to be, but I'm able to play my parts for concerts. I just play for fun, so there's no stress. In fact, playing now is a big stress reliever.

A small amount of practice can go far if you do it right.
If you have any poo... fling it NOW!
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Old 03-31-2009, 01:45 AM   #11 (permalink)

Last edited by xuvio38; 02-20-2011 at 11:55 AM..
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Old 03-31-2009, 04:35 AM   #12 (permalink)
“Wrong is right.”
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Location: toronto
Originally Posted by Baraka_Guru View Post
I tend to be an all or nothing kind of person, and so if I don't have a 1-hour block where I'm good and ready, I tend not to spend anytime at all. I think this is a mistake.
Agreed. Folks... don't let a lack of large chunks of time deter you. It's more about regularity. Also, setting time goals isn't as useful as setting specific musical goals. In fact, being under a time constraint, say 10 minutes, often helps me snap into focus. "I only have 10 minutes to make some progress on these 3 scales" for example helps me to get the most out of every repetition.

As for "how do I find the time?" I've made the time over the past ten years. When I first moved to the city, I was at University full time and working in the library. Until 2006 I worked retail most days and it was too much. Especially since after coming home I'd be tired and want to spend time with my wife. I got my foot in the door at a teaching studio and picked up some private students from a colleague who was leaving town. Now I can support myself on 14 hours of work a week as opposed to 40. So in a large sense, I made the time to practice.

It's not all roses though. I am still busy with a lot of the same things everyone is. I make sure that when I can sit down, that I am focused and not pissing any time away. I try to limit the time I spend on certain topics and sometimes even put a countdown timer on. I also keep track of what I practice in a journal so I can decide to stay on the topic the next day and look back over the week to see if I want to change my menu.
!check out my new blog! http://arkanamusic.wordpress.com

Warden Gentiles: "It? Perfectly innocent. But I can see how, if our roles were reversed, I might have you beaten with a pillowcase full of batteries."
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Old 04-03-2009, 12:21 AM   #13 (permalink)
You're going to have to trust me!
MacGuyver's Avatar
Location: Massachusetts
I start teaching part time on the weekends and once or twice a week between high school and drum corps. This helps me keep in a regular playing level, plus I kind of fuck around with sticks and a pad whenever I'm not doing anything. The best part about being a drummer, is that you don't need an instrument to play. I'm actually selling my drumset because I don't have the time for it anymore and I could really use the money. Maybe I'll get something smaller down the line when I have the time to play again.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.

Deeds, not words, shall speak [for] me.
---John Fletcher
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Old 04-27-2009, 08:36 PM   #14 (permalink)
change is hard.
thespian86's Avatar
Location: the green room.
I play when I'm at school sometimes, play at others' houses, perform, etc.

I'm young, in school; I still have a "relative" amount of time in my program.
EX: Whats new?
ME: I officially love coffee more then you now.
EX: uh...
ME: So, not much.
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Old 05-19-2009, 07:40 PM   #15 (permalink)
ironpham's Avatar
Location: NC
I was in the same boat this past winter and spring...minus the moving in with the girlfriend part (I only started seeing her this past winter). With work, school, and doing stuff with her, I could barely find time for 4-5 times a week....so I guess I'm saying there may not be a way except to stay up really late after she is asleep.
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Old 05-26-2009, 12:17 PM   #16 (permalink)
Deliberately unfocused
grumpyolddude's Avatar
Location: Amazon.com and CDBaby
My participation here at tfp bears the brunt of my time pressures. Gotta give the day job its proper attention, as well as the household and family necessities. Rehearsing, recording, gigging... can't shave any time there either. I'm living on five hours sleep, or less, per night. Practice or tfp? That accounts for my low post count, eh?

I find that, when I'm running on this ragged edge, my creativity suffers a lot. I used to write. Not so much now. Even writing the bass lines for the bands new tunes has been a struggle. They're coming along, slowly, though.

Gotta regain my balance, get sharp again and stay that way.
"Regret can be a harder pill to swallow than failure .With failure you at least know you gave it a chance..." David Howard
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Old 05-27-2009, 07:48 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Location: Third World
My cousin is a musician who also acts in a soapie to "pay the bils and generate cashflow for his real passion" as he put it. His life is hectic. He says its all about discipline and maintaining a routine (which you all echo, above). And life is easier when you have your own studio/music room at home. his day is something like this:

05h00 -16h00 be on set for makeup and on call.
17h00 - 20h00 hit the gym for 3 hours a day, every friggin day. (He does Muay Thai competitively)
20h00 - 21h00 shower, eat and relax
21h00 - 00h00 practise and record.

his band performs twice a month.

I would die with a routine like that. I'm astouded that he managed to keep a functional relationship going for 4 years. He doesnt watch TV. He doesnt "do" the internet. I think that's the real secret. Whilst we're pondering about "how do you find the time?", people like him use all the available time they have to actually do stuff.
"Failing tastes of bile and dog vomit. Pity any man that gets used to that taste."
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Old 06-06-2009, 04:10 PM   #18 (permalink)
Confused Adult
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Location: Spokane, WA
Originally Posted by Vaultboy View Post
Whilst we're pondering about "how do you find the time?", people like him use all the available time they have to actually do stuff.
This is key, id' say if I took back all the time I've spent on the computer or in front of the TV, i'd have a few years of my life back.
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