Who does not like noodling? Staying in our bedrooms or music shops playing the best we can to (hopefully) impress ourselves and other people. However, noodling is being seen as an anti-practice by some. ‘Don’t noodle, go practice,’ they say but, why not both?
Practice is when we have a clear goal in mind of what we will be working on and being conscious of it the whole time, at least that’s how I see it when I practice. Meanwhile noodling is about letting it go and ‘be ourselves’. There is no bad note, no bad rhythm, no prejudice, just pure self-expression. *inserts motivation video*
Noodling doesn’t seem to improve our playing by the looks of it since it’s just whacking it away but wait, there’s more. It can also be seen as the purest of our playing since we’re ‘being ourselves’. Why not then take this time to ‘reflect’ as well because ‘being ourselves’ doesn’t mean that we’re right anyway.
So, besides just noodling mindlessly (which is actually essential in my opinion), pay attention to whatever we’re playing at the moment. Find out things that are too repetitive? Change. Vibrato sounds disgusting? Improve on it. There are times when we ourselves are our best teachers by looking at things objectively and critically. Improving on these little things that we find unsatisfactory in our own noodling is much harder than it looks because it is what’s natural to us. It’s similar if not the same as changing a bad habit.
I used to noodle a lot but not as much these days and I’m trying to get back into more noodling. I miss the thoughtless process of it and I find myself always being conscious of whatever I’m playing. It feels like a contradictory thing sometimes but I guess I will find my way out.