Play Don’t Practice

kid playing instrument

Work on your posture is too important to take seriously.


I’ll explain. But first, let me tell you a story.

A friend visited me at the beginning of the summer. My friend is a flute teacher and mostly teaches young students. While she was here she told me a very interesting story about a 9-year-old girl she teaches.

My friend had been trying to figure out how to get this young flutist to practice more regularly at home. The young girl knew from experience that if she practiced she would improve. But for some reason, she just wouldn’t do it on a regular basis.

One day, at the end of her lesson, my friend asked the girl “could you practice for just 10 minutes a day? That’s all. But every day.”

The girl hesitated. She said to my friend “could you ask that again?”

My friend repeated the question “could you practice for just 10 minutes a day?”

The girl said, “say it again but change one thing. Replace the word practice with play”.

My friend paused and then asked the young girl “could you play for just 10 minutes a day?”

“That I can do,” the girl said. “I can play for 10 minutes. Yes. Absolutely.”

This happened some time ago but it made such an impression on my friend that she had not forgotten it. In fact, she began to ask all her students to take time to play every day not practice. And she told me about it.

Often when we approach practicing something there is a degree of needing to get it right. Of being afraid of making mistakes. Approaching the same thing as playing at it allows for a bit of freedom of exploration and making mistakes.

Mistakes are essential to learning.

Young kids naturally know how to play and are not afraid to make mistakes. That’s one reason they are good at learning so many things.

Our adult mindset of needing to practice, to try hard, to have to get things right and perfect, and not make mistakes can get in the way of our ability to learn.

Very often in the course of a lesson, a student will laugh at something that has happened. I encourage laughter. When it is genuine it shows that we are willing to not take ourselves too seriously.

When it comes to working on your Posture and your Use I often ask my students to explore, experiment, or play with what they have been taught in their lessons.

As you read through posts on my blog I encourage you to play with the suggestions I give. Allow for mistakes. And leave yourself open for learning.

It’s a happy talent to know how to play

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay 

2 comments… add one

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  • Karen September 14, 2016, 5:42 am

    Such wisdom from someone so young. I’ve been a pupil for many years, always leaving my lesson learning something new about myself… I’ll be thinking what I can play around with😊…..sounds like a gentler way to be with yourself. Thanks for taking the time to write your blog Lauren, Alexander’s work never gets boring.

    • Lauren Hill September 14, 2016, 1:36 pm

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for your comment. I often think it is interesting that we approach kids as needing to be taught when often if we stop to listen and observe we can learn a great deal from them as well!


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