A quick one by way of an anecdote.
September 2008, and I’m preparing for a recital with my long-time collaborator, pianist Llyr Williams. We’re running through Finzi’s Let Us Garlands Bring, which we’ve performed many times before, but not for a year or more at this point. Something sounds different in the accompaniments – some meaty bass colours I’ve not been aware of before. I ask Llyr whether he’s changed something in the way he plays them. He tells me that he had a concert tour scheduled with an orchestra for that summer, which was cancelled at the last minute. He decided to fill the unexpected spare time with exercises to strengthen the little finger of his left hand.
You can’t always control whether you end up with gaps in your diary, but you are always in charge of how you use that time.