Perfection: The Enemy of the Good

I practiced yesterday, but only for about 45 minutes.  My long day at work kept me from it until after 7 pm, so I decided to play for a few minutes while Michael was making dinner.  I’m not much into playing after 8 pm – it seems that the earlier in the day I play the better I am.  Unsurprising, since that’s true of pretty much everything in my life.

I’m a person who likes to do things start to finish – I don’t want to be late, I don’t want to leave early, if there are little pleasantries around the peripheries of scheduled events I tend to want to be there.  I want to do it (whatever it is) fully.  That’s probably especially true of the violin.  I like my warmup rituals, my progress through past pieces, and my slow workup to my current challenges.  Under an hour feels too short.

But there’s a lot to be said for just taking the violin out and starting playing.  Sure I warmed up with some scales, but last night my main goal was to get in some reps on the second half of my Bach Bourree, which I began in Tuesday’s lesson but haven’t touched since.  I’ve found the number of days I practice to be quite a bit more important than the length of time in one session.  That’s the way humans learn best – it’s cross-disciplinary – ten minutes of studying pretty much anything per day beats two hours once per week, hands down.

I’ve noticed our national discourse tending toward two views of pretty much everything:  good and evil, however you define them.  Well, that’s never been the world I live in.  Everything in our universe is about shades of gray; the reality is that black and white are figments of our imagination.  No white exists that is perfect.  No black exists that is total void.  Extremely expensive laboratories exist to try to make things (all sorts of things!) pure – “they” get very close, but they never make it perfectly pure.  “Imperfection” is the nature of the universe and absolutely everything in it.

So perfection exists only in our minds. Yes, I love my hour-minimum practice sessions, but if I weren’t open to not getting the full hour I would have missed out on last night’s session, which felt great and really added value to my day.  A little is better than nothing.  Perfection should not be the enemy of the good.

Thanks for reading,



  1. Yes–I always tell my students that consistency is the key!! 10 minutes per day is better that 45 min twice a week!

    1. Yesterday I had another short one! Tough week…

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