What to practice when time is limited?

I’ve often thought much about efficiency when practicing music. I used to park myself in a practice room from dawn until midnight back at NEC and even before then. I would break my practice routines down into 15 minute increments, and have it all laid out on a schedule. Practice would occur for anywhere from 4 to 12 hours per day, including breaks of course. I was nuts, and obsessed. What can I say? 😉

Nowadays time is limited. I have a day job. I have a family. I have classes that I take at night. But I remain obsessed. After the homework is done and the kids are in bed, I might have anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours to practice on any given weekday. What do you practice when time is limited?

Some things I try to cover are maintenance. With the double bass, shifting positions and pushing the strings down to the fingerboard is always kind of an athletic event. So one must maintain a level of strength, dexterity, and muscle memory with exercises. I use Petracchi’s Simplified Higher Technique book, sometimes hit up Ludwig Streicher’s methods, and have a few exercises I’ve worked up myself to stay in shape.

Another technical maintenance issue I encounter is bowing issues. Unlike my left hand technique where I’m fairly comfortable with everything and don’t feel like I have any major challenges, my bowing arm often feels foreign, even detached from my body at times. Only after regular practice with the Zimmerman book do I feel like I have this thing working properly. It is funny – there’s only four strings and two directions your bow can go, but an infinite number of possible patterns and subtleties that occur in these four planes of existence. OK seven planes if you count double stops…

So I am wondering for all you bassists out there: What do you practice when you don’t have much time? What is the first thing you practice? What does a typical practice session look like to you?

Researching web information architecture, usability, and standards

If you are a web developer, web designer, web architect, web usability expert, in a similar role, or just have an opinion on the subjects of web architecture, usability, and standards, I need your help! I am doing a research paper on the arguments in favor of having large enterprise organizations develop policies for the following issues:

  • Implementing and enforcing a standardized user interface for an enterprise web presence.
  • Developing an enterprise web information architecture.
  • Developing and enforcing a web style guide.
  • Enforcing web standards (i.e. valid XHTML, CSS, DOM scripting using ECMAScript standard, etc.
  • Usability and accessibility issues (Section 508, case law, etc.)

Broad category? Yes. But hey, it’s easier than writing about how to curb global population growth or global warming. I’m trying to positively influence the world through better enterprise web strategy. My goal is to bring standards-based web design out of the sidelines and fully into the mainstream at the enterprise level. I think the case has been made clear for small web infrastructures and web 2.0 plays, but the enterprise still lags in this area and it is a far more challenging problem due to the information and organizational complexity of such behemoths.

I need your help! If you have any suggestions, opinions, recommended books, citations, essays, or good URLs to post, please let me know in the comments! Any opinion on this topic is welcome.

Thanks!

Repose

Let me just say that it is really relaxing to not be practicing the double bass for a few days here. I’ve been shedding on that thing for the past couple of months on a daily basis, mostly in anticipation of the concert that occurred last Sunday. The concert is done and I’ve been taking a breather and tending to things neglected – oh such as this blog and the fact that it has been down for a few days. Welcome back to the living, sanbeiji.com…

The performance last weekend was spectacular – an amazing group of talent out there in the Bay Area Taiwanese community. I had the honor and privilege of playing the Rossini Duetto with Shu-Yi Pai whom recently joined the San Francisco Symphony, and the Chanson Triste by Koussevitsky with the incomparable Yingwen. Really an honor to play with such talented and accomplished musicians.

So now it is back to a little guitar, which I’ve been neglecting, and thinking about the next phase in practicing for me over the coming months. I have been focusing lately on developing technique in the upper thumb position regions on my bass, a lot of bowing drills, and intend to get back into expanding my Bach repertoire on the guitar. I still consider if I should just bag the orchestral strings once and for all and finally focus on solo playing exclusively. It is obvious I’m never going to have the time to play orchestra, but there is always the occasional chamber music event that I just can’t resist. Maybe I need two basses! 😀

Hosting nightmares

I had to change web hosts. The old one was down way too often. Unfortunately, this one seems to be not without their own set of issues. Still trying to find out why Unicode characters didn’t import right into the database and why .htaccess configurations continue to fail. Hmmm…

Oh and for some reason the old theme doesn’t like the new server. It was time to go anyway. Thanks for all the fish! I’ll figure something out as we go along.