Feel like you are getting worse? You are not alone. This is a phenomenon that faces many musicians - your time feel doesn't feel as solid, your creativity is lacking, or even noticing that our brain and fingers are not working together as well as usual. All very familiar experiences. Whilst studying with Ian Godfrey back in my undergrad days in Melbourne, Australia, he shed some light to what was really happening in these instances:
As we progress musically, we are improving both our ability on our instrument, as well as our ears (ie. our ability to hear on a deeper level). Suprisingly, our ears actually develop slightly faster than our ability:
Musicians tend to overlook this fact. We forget that our ears improve as we are so focussed on improving our abilities on our instrument. We fall into a belief that our hearing capabilities are static and do not change. If you tilt the graph to represent this belief, you get this:
Now we can see that when we believe our ears are remaining constant, it creates the illusion that our ability is declining.
So it is not that our creativity is lacking, or our time is getting worse, it is simply that our ears have progressed to hearing lines and melodies on a deeper level, yet our ability (whilst still improving) is yet to catch up.
So next time you feel like you are getting worse, or things aren't working as well as they usually do, tilt the graph back up the right way and recognise that your ears are improving. See it as a success - your ears have reached the next level and your ability on the horn will catch up soon enough!
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!