What I've also noticed during this time are the stunning similarities between playing a musical instrument and the game of golf, especially when it comes to practicing vs. performing. Now I know I'm probably not the first person to ever make the comparison, but I figured I'd give my take on it as it has applied to me over the past year.
My teacher once assigned me a book by Bob Rotella entitled "Golf is not a game of perfect." Rotella is regarded in the sports community as the "go to" man for the elite in sports who maybe experiencing some sort of psychological block when it comes to performing in their given sport. Rotella's approach to performance is quite simple. You MUST trust your instincts and forget the physical aspects of what you're trying to do. He teaches to let go of any doubt in your mind about your ability to get the job done. Natural physical talent is what got them to where they're at but the mental side of the game is what will either make or break them when it really counts. See the parallels to music?
Far too often I see students focused on how it "feels" to play a horn instead of focusing on how it sounds. Negative thoughts fill their mind every time they see a high "C" in the music much like a struggling golfer would when he sees a sand trap next to a green. Over analyzation creeps into the brain and "paralysis by analysis" takes over your body. Rotella teaches, however, that the last thing you need in your head before attempting a tough shot is whether or not you have the right club or if your stance is correct. All of those things need to be hashed out during practice on the driving range, or a practice room for our purposes so that when you're at the tee box, the only thing you're thinking about is putting a good swing on it and getting it in the hole. I know it sounds cliche and maybe even a little obvious, but it's this revelation that Rotella preaches about in his book that has completely changed my approach to golf, and more importantly how I approach the horn when it comes to performing.
I'm sure this won't be the last time I share my thoughts on this subject because it's so incredibly important. If you want to improve your performing capabilities, do yourself a favor and buy this book. You don't even have to know anything about golf (ok it helps but it's not necessary). If you don't believe me, ask some other professional players. You're bound to find a good bit of them who have already read it.