So, a few months ago I wrote about starting your musical New Year’s Resolution. How are you doing with your practice routine? I must admit I failed after two weeks! I got sick with bronchitis and then there was a death in my family. If you remember my blog I noted that “internet research indicates that you have a whopping 20% chance of sticking to your New Year’s resolutions this year. That’s kind of depressing. So about 20% of us will be successful and sadly about 80% of us will fail in restarting or reenergizing our new, good habits. After a month 50% of us will still be successful with our resolution goals. As a music teacher I wonder what the odds are of you are practicing this year on an instrument?
So, I’m about to get back on my horse again and practice. I’m going to break it down into smaller achievable goals and find 4 days per week to get in a good 20 minutes on my goal, to better my sight-reading skills on hymns played on the piano. I mentioned in my last article to try to remind our students and ourselves that doing less, but doing it well actually accomplishes more. This builds skills and confidence and gives that happy feeling a start in your brain that hopefully helps to make practice more fun and tolerable at least, so that I, and you will continue to progress.
I mentioned in the next paragraph staying educated, and I do read a lot and love to talk techniques and materials with my colleagues. With myself, I find I get lazy with my music. To help pull me up from my “hole” I do a lot of listening and playing along to tracks. I need a goal and my forte is my ear, so I leverage that and make my musical practice a study to copy the sounds of another performance. But I put the time in on the practice of the sheet music first, writing in fingerings and breaking things down into smaller parts to chew on. Then I get excited to try to do the play-a-long. I also have a special software that allows me to slow the mp3 down to play exactly with it at a reduced pace. YouTube now has this feature on a menu button in the lower right corner, and there you can adjust the playback speed of the video from 100% down to 75% or 50% speed.
There are 168 hours of time available to each of us every week, which divides into 336 half hours per week and 2016 five-minute periods every week. If we subtract out our work, sleep, play, eating time we use up 90% of our time each week on the day to day things, I still mathematically can prove we have about 34 thirty-minute spots free each week and 201 five-minute practice session spots available to us during the week left over as the 10% we are not overscheduled. So, finding 7 free periods to get some work in, one practice session each day (either 30 minutes or 5 minutes) still looks doable and possible using the above math. I admit I am not taking full advantage of these yet!
Make your goals smaller, realistically start practicing every other day, put a reminder in your calendar, find 5 or 10 mins to get going again. Be excellent in your practices, don’t just play the material; study it, find your weaker areas and work on them. Count and play if you need to, stop and read the notes if you need to. A little effort goes a long way. Don’t be afraid to FAIL as FAIL spells First Attempt in Learning!
Reward yourself after you practice! Let’s get restarted and recommit together!
Best wishes in your studio and in your own practice in this New Year!