The Practice of Thanksgiving

Do you practice Thanksgiving, practice giving thanks?

I write a lot about practicing on this blog. In fact, there are 113 posts in the Practicing category. The frequency of the topic is not really surprising, since practice is the single biggest part of a musician’s musical life.

The word “practice” has many shades of meaning. It can refer to a habit or custom as in “practice random acts of kindness.” The term “best practices” means a set of standards or procedures. We can practice, or pursue, a discipline or profession, as in “the practice of yoga,” or “medical practice.”

I think music practice is all these, and something else as well.

Yes, practice builds correct habits. Through practice we seek to meet a certain standard, and it most certainly is a pursuit.

But consider what our music practice really does. It doesn’t just make us play better, or make wrong notes right. Our practice is about making connections. We connect notes to fingers to tone to expression to rhythms, patterns and time. And when we have strengthened all those connections we can perform well. And practicing daily makes those connections the strongest.

Giving thanks creates powerful connections. Have you ever noticed that when you thank someone, you are able to feel the flow of energy between you? Their face lights up, you smile at each other and create eye contact. Thanking someone can bridge emotional distances and create lasting bonds of goodwill. It’s difficult to hate a person who has expressed genuine gratitude to you.

Music practice is an inward discipline. We push ourselves to master our craft and measure our progress against an ideal standard.

Giving thanks is an outward discipline. It connects us directly to our fellow human beings and to God. And although we call it “giving” thanks, haven’t you always found that gratitude is a gift that pays the giver back?

How can you practice giving thanks every day?

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