“The habits we groove become who we are, one minute at a time. A small thing, repeated, is not a small thing.” – Seth Godin
Whether you’re a parent of a budding musician or a musician in the making yourself we all know how important practice is in reaching our goals. We’re also aware of the effort it takes to get to the practice room on a regular basis. Then when we get there we’re not sure of ourselves. Is there a better way to make use of this important time?
As a long time musician I can attest that it still takes great discipline to practice on a regular basis. My world is far busier than it’s ever been but I’ve developed some simple rules and techniques that I’ve applied to myself as well as my children. The results, while not perfect, have proved very satisfying and beneficial for both my kids and myself. They’ve shown to be positive in both musical and mental well being.
1. Start Small
If practice is almost non-existent start with a humble goal. I usually suggest doing 5 minutes more days than not. For example, make a commitment to practice for 5 minutes on 4 days this week. It may not sound like a lot but it’ll make a big difference especially if we’re coming up from almost no practice. After a few weeks of this add a few minutes to each session. Repeat the process until we’ve reached a sufficient amount of time and it becomes a habit.
2. Make It A Routine
If we wait for the right moment to practice we’re not going to practice. Make it a scheduled daily event. It should be something that if we miss we’re acutely aware of it. Schedule it.
3. It’s A Workout
The Webster’s Dictionary definition of practice is as follows:
– to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient
The key word here is “repeatedly”. Doing a thing over and over again is how we get better at something. The more we do it the better we’ll be and the better we leverage our time the more we’ll do it.
Set a timer for each practice item and play it again and again until the timer is up. We should treat practice like a workout. Just like we decide how far or how long we’re going to run before we get on the treadmill we should decide how long or how many times we’ll perform a specific musical exercise. Like a good physical workout if we do it with intensity and focus the results will be superior and we’ll make the best use of our time.
In the spirit of tip #1 I’m going to stop here and pick up where we left off in an upcoming post but in the meantime I encourage those of you who are struggling to practice consistently to try something small this week. Do it with focus and accomplish it with a well deserved pride. Great music is built one note at a time and so is a great musician.
Looking forward to the music you’ll make!,
Owner and Director