No doubt you are busy. On top of a full day you have a passion to learn a new instrument. You may find the idea of sitting and studying for 30min entirely too daunting. Discouraged you are tempted to stop practicing all together. Do not fear. There is a powerful and productive way to think about practice in small, incremental steps. Visiting your instrument for as little as ten minutes a day can reinforce new material and create a ritual that becomes an integral part of your life.
- Couple Practice with an Already Established Daily Activity
- Mark Calendar and Set Smart Phone Alert
- Practice Efficiently & Intentionally with Suggested 10min Breakdown
- Commit to One Week & Evaluate
Practice with a Side Salad or Toothpaste?
The key to practice is firstly designating a set time. Instead of leaving your practice time floating ambiguously in the ether of “later”, try coupling it next to an event you already do daily, like eating or brushing your teeth. Ten minutes directly before or after dinner is an easy target practice zone. Quickly, you start to develop your practice habit as a daily ritual instead of a chore that gets pushed to tomorrow.
Just What the Doctor Ordered
Give your ten minute practice time the same priority as you would a trip to the doctor’s office. When you have a scheduled doctor’s appointment you mark your calendar and even set an alert prior to the meeting. You can apply this to your practice. Use your calendar and alert systems on your computer and smart phone to their full capacity. Let technology support your practice and keep you respecting your time.
10 Minute Practice Break Down
1 min: Breathing and Visualization
Approach your practice with a calm and positive mind. Take a minute to breath deeply and visualize yourself actualizing your musical goal. Try and maintain a “can do” attitude and dismiss any harsh criticism of yourself. You are learning. This is a process. Be patient.
2 min: Review Notes
Take a moment to recall your last lesson. Read any notes from the teacher and identify the points you specifically need to focus on for this practice. Limit your focus to one or two items to improve upon. Don’t try and tackle everything at once. For example: This practice I’m focusing on counting and dynamics. Your next daily practice might focus on memorization and phrasing.
5 min: Work on Targeted Assignment
With these one or two items in mind, approach your current assignment. Write down any questions that arise during your practice to ask your teacher at the next lesson.
2 min: Review Previous Completed Song/Exercise
Reward your focus by reviewing a previously completed assignment that you feel confident about. Have fun playing and realize you are slowly building a repertoire.
Decide that you are willing to give this method an earnest try for one week.
Reward yourself at the end of that week for meeting your goal. Then reflect on your experience. Is your daily practice coupled with the appropriate daily event or do you need to move it to a different event? Did ten minutes feel too short, too long or just right? How did you feel before, during, and after your practice? Do you feel more or less inspired? Look at your experience and evaluate.
Congratulations! By the end of one week you will have achieved seventy minutes of intentional and structured practice. Any music teacher will be thrilled by your report and excited by your commitment to steady progress. Of course, if a burst of inspiration hits you and ten minutes turns into twenty, then great, go with it. The ten minute challenge is a starting point. Good luck!