Donald Cerrone Doesn't Spar
So for my bros that don't follow the UFC, Donald Cerrone is one of the best fighters at Lightweight (155) and Welterweight (170). On a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Podcast, he talks about his current training philosophy at the 22 minute mark.
Cerrone, who's specialty is Muay Thai doesn't spar. Instead he just runs drills for what he thinks will help him in his upcoming fight (with the help of his coaches' insights). Part of the reason I think this works for him is he fights frequently compared to other fighters that only step into the octagon once or twice a year.
Get ready for a big jump...
Recently I've been applying this approach to my musical practice. How many of you play through tunes you already know on a daily basis just to "get better at them" in some vague, undefined way? I've definitely done a lot of that in the past. It's fun, but is it productive? Over the past month or so, I've just been running musical drills to address certain weaknesses in my playing in my daily practice. Then when I go out to play on a gig or session, I'm improvising musically and reacting to what other people in the band play (i.e. not treating it like a drill). I've felt like the fundamentals of my playing and control over my instrument is better. At the same time, I feel like I can react to the band in a more spontaneous way. Every night over the past month I've gone out to some music. Either I'm playing a gig, watching a gig, or sitting in on someone else's gig. 5-6 nights out of the week I'm playing my saxophone with other people.
Just like Cerrone fights frequently, I don't think this approach would work very well if I weren't going out to play with other people so often. I would need to practice improvising more freely because I'm not doing it on a nightly basis. I also don't think this would work if I had a lot of new music to learn. Right now, I don't.
What do you think? Could these perceived benefits be coming from just going out more often and have nothing to do with practice? Does improvising along with Aebersolds prepare somebody to play with a band well? Are there ways we can practice to a track that improve our playing in structured ways? Should we just limit ourselves to practicing long tones and nothing else? (I'm kidding on that last one) Let me know by commenting below.