At a dinner party once I listened intently as a musician, a violinist of some standing around town, was talking about the life of a working player, a professional artist. She eventually came round to the subject of practice and in response to the question “do you practice every day?” she explained something that really stuck with me, “I practice every day. I have to because, if you miss one day of practice, you know it. If you miss two days of practice, your teacher knows it, and if you miss three days of practice, the audience knows it!”
Practice is a big part of the life of a professional artist. A good friend of mine who is a painter, always has a sketch pad and crayons with her. She finds time to draw every day. She says that she must in order to “maintain”. As a young actor I was taught to practice daily. As soon as I left the conservatory and began my career I let the daily practice thing go. Heck, I was working a lot and felt I didn’t need to practice. Was I right? Was I wrong? Who knows? That’s how it went.
Now I’m decades down the road and seeing my profession in a new way, as an artist and as a small business man. I am my small business and in order to have success, my one and only product must be in the best shape possible. So now I practice daily. When a job is pending I’m looking at the script. When an audition is coming up I’m working on the sides. When nothing is going on I’m learning a new monologue, or going back over an old one. I take exercise daily, keeping the body and mind sharp. If I’m to practice my profession at a high level, I have to have high standards.
To any young colleagues who might read this, take note. We are all talented, and some of us work harder than others. Those that work harder also work more. Talent will never replace hard work.