Nicholas Barron: Performance As Practice

That’s what a lot of people do; they practice in a room and they don’t get anywhere. It’s really about practice being life, and life being practice.

~Nicholas Barron


Chicago singer-songwriter Nicholas Barron is another musician I interviewed for The Practice of Practice who told me, “I never practice.” What he meant was that he didn’t do conventional kinds of practice, the kind that’s done for classical and band music. You know: sitting in a room alone, playing scales, etudes, excerpts, and repertoire. Nicholas struggled for years with that kind of practice. He said that kind of practice “actually hurts my brain.” Nicholas has struggled with ADHD, and this has made it hard to focus in the practice room. Nicholas discovered that he could practice by performing. He took to the streets, playing in Boston, London, and eventually landing in Chicago where he played in the CTA stations on the south side nearly all day every day for four years. He says that’s he practiced. By performing.

In school music, we don’t perform enough. Three to four large performances a year (not counting marching band). That’s just not enough performance. Professionals perform that many times in a weekend. There’s something special about the demands of a performance, demands that push your skills and awareness to a higher level. We should all do more of it. Check out Nicholas Barron, singing Crazy below with Ameerah Tatum. (Side note: Nicholas is also a visual artist. The painting in the background was done by him. Check out his website.)

Want to learn more about getting better through performance like Nicholas Barron? In The Practice of PracticeChapter 42: Performance Practice, covers the details about harnessing the power of performance to get better. To learn more about the book, check out a sample from The Practice of Practice.




Interview: Nicholas Barron on Practice(mp3)

Nicholas Barron’s Music:

Mentioned in the Podcast:

Here’s a video of Nicholas singing the song Angeline from the John Martyn tribute record:


3 Comments Add yours

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