“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
In the November issue of Clavier’s Piano Explorer (a wonderful little magazine for piano students), there was an article on creating good practice habits. The challenge was for students to practice 100 days in a row. Students that completed the challenge get to have their names printed in a future issue of the magazine. To motivate my students to develop the habit of practicing every day, I adopted the 100-day challenge in my studio, offering prizes to those who complete the challenge. In addition, I decided to take the challenge as well!
Recently I completed the challenge along with a handful of students. Practicing every day became a habit that I made time for. Part of committing to the challenge meant that practice did indeed have to happen every day, no matter what – like brushing your teeth. For students that went on vacation and had no access to a piano, listening to a recording of their piece was an optional substitute for practice, but only if absolutely necessary.
Personally, this challenge was very inspirational to me. Teaching, running a business and everyday tasks take up the majority of my time. In my younger days, I always found time to practice every day, but once a busy adult, it became easy to let days go by without practice. I found that if I carved out a bit of time at the end of each day, I was able to stick with it. After about 30 days, I couldn’t imagine life without practice. Though a bit juvenile, putting a sticker on my calendar each day reminded me of progress and once I had built up several days of practice in a row, I hated to lose momentum by missing a day and having to start all over. So, I persevered and not only did my playing improve, but I also found a sense of peace and calm in my practice. I found that I am much happier when I set aside time for my own practice. Though my motivation to practice was different than my students, they had the same reactions upon completing the challenge. Here are just a few of their comments:
“When my relatives visited, I wanted to spend time with them but still practice, so I gave a recital of all my pieces for practice.”
“I even practiced when I had a fever!”
“I practice every day between 6:00 – 7:30pm. I just know I have to do it every day.”
“Practicing every day has made my playing much easier. I am like an athlete. I have to do it every day to stay in shape.”
How do you motivate your students to practice? How do you find time for your own practice? I would love to hear your ideas!