How to build practicing an instrument into a crazy schedule: tips for adult and teenage students.
We all like to play music, but practicing can elude even the most enthusiastic of players. Getting into the habit of practicing is just like getting into the habit of doing anything else, like flossing your teeth. Here are a few of my favorite ways to remember to practice every day and to incorporate practicing into a busy schedule.
A Scale A Day. Make a rule that you HAVE to play a scale 7 days a week. It takes literally one minute to play a scale. I don’t care how busy you are. You definitely have a spare minute, so play a scale during that minute! If that’s all you have time for, then great, at least you touched your instrument and made some sounds. And chances are that you have a little bit more time than a minute, so you’ll continue to play and get in a practice session.
Practice less, more often. This is exactly like working out. You could do one 2-hour workout each week, and you’d probably gain some sort of benefit from it. But that’s not nearly as beneficial as getting in a 20 minute workout 5 times a week. Same thing goes for practicing: getting in 5–10 minutes of practice 4–5 times a week is way better than practicing for 2 hours once a week. This is particularly effective if you attach your practice habit to something else you already do on a regular basis…
Attach practicing to something you do on a regular basis. For example, if after dinner you normally read the internet, decide that you only get to read the internet after practicing 15–20 minutes. This can be very, very effective. Also, chances are that you’ll leave practicing feeling happier and more satisfied than you would have felt after reading BuzzFeed for 20 minutes.
Don’t assume that practicing needs to be limited to after school and work hours. What would it be like to get in your daily practice before work or school? What about attaching a few minutes of cello practice to eating breakfast? Make a rule for yourself that you can’t eat breakfast until you play.
Keep a practice log. Make your practice log as detailed or not detailed as you like. Your practice log could be your Google calendar, a spreadsheet, a notebook, in tally marks on the wall (chalkboard paint could be cool for this…).
For the visually-minded, try the “Seinfeld method.” Get a big calendar and hang it on the wall where you can see it. On days that you practice, write an X or some other mark of your choice on the calendar, making the mark big enough that you begin to create a visual design of Try to create an unbroken chain or a consistent weekly pattern.