Did you join the millions of people who set New Years Resolutions?
I heard an interesting change to the terminology that I find empowering: instead of a Resolution, it is a DETERMINATION. No matter the time of year, you can DETERMINE to make changes in your habits, including your musical habits.
- Be determined to attend more live performances.
- Be determined to learn a new piece of music by your favorite composer.
- Be determined to learn one new piece from each musical time period.
- Be determined to learn more information about your favorite composer or piece of music.
- Be determined to practice more.
Let’s focus on being determined to practice more. All of these suggestions are great for adults and children alike.
What does “more” mean to you? You need to be realistic about your current practicing habits and what you would like to change. Perhaps you are only practicing one day a week and “more” means 4 days week. Perhaps you are only practicing 10 minutes a day and “more” means 20 minutes a day. Figure out what your goal is and notate it somewhere.
What is currently impeding your ability to practice more? You need to think about your current practicing habits. Perhaps you typically practice at 8:00 PM and you would practice more if you started at 7:30 PM. Perhaps you do not have any rhyme or reason to when you practice and you would practice more if it was a scheduled day and time, notated on a calendar. Perhaps the location of your practice is a negative space and you would practice more if it suited your needs better. Set a plan in place and notate it with your goal.
What is your mental and emotional response to practicing? Not everyone jumps for joy at the thought of practicing. Perhaps you are not enjoying your current technique exercises & pieces and you would practice more with music you find enjoyable. Perhaps you are forcing yourself to practice and you would practice more if it was a reward versus a punishment. Really pay attention to you mental and emotional response and notate your observations with your plan and goal.
Here are some general tips to increasing and enriching your practice routine:
- Consider practicing multiple times a day for a shorter period of time. Instead of practicing for 30-45 minutes at once, you can break it down into 10-15 two or three times a day.
- Consider starting and ending every practice session with a song, piece, or exercise you enjoy. Keep the “hard work” or not-so-enjoyable tasks for the middle of the practice session.
- Consider a self-imposed (or parent-designed for child) reward system. Determine your goal for practicing (20 minutes a day, or 4 days a week, or 100 minutes in a week) and then a set a series of small rewards when you reach weekly or monthly milestones. I had a student once that loved plants, so her small reward for reaching her monthly milestone was a new houseplant. You could also add in a larger reward for bigger milestones, such as reaching 1000 minutes or being consistent for 3 months. This could be a treat from a local store or bakery or going to a movie or theme park. Whatever motivates you is a great reward!
- Consider a practice buddy, whether you practice together in-person, virtually, or just check-in with each other to stay accountable. Duets are also fun to do together and a great motivator!
- Consider competing with a practice buddy. For those of us motivated by competition, this may be a great motivator to practice more. You do not need to have the exact same goals, just compete on whether you are achieving your goals or not.
Don’t just resolve to practice more this year, be DETERMINED to practice more! You’ve got this.