The one question that I get asked the most from all levels of students, whether beginner or advanced, is “how should I practice?” There is no one GOOD answer to this question. It varies heavily from person to person and instrument to instrument. However, here are some helpful tips to get you going.
Believe it or not, before I was a music teacher, I was a chef. The number one rule of working in a professional kitchen is having everything you need to make a certain dish within arms reach, or as the French say, Mise En Place meaning “everything in place.” How does this translate to music? Before you even play your first note, set up a corner in your room (or an entire room if you want) where you have everything YOU need— so a music stand, a comfy chair that lends itself to good posture, your music, and some water. Make sure that your back faces the “household distractions” and your view is uncluttered. Need other things to feel more centered/relaxed , and aligned? Set them up! A scented candle, different colored or dimmed lighting— whatever YOU need to prepare for practice. Mise En Place also means organizing your music! Put all your music together in one binder or folder— have all of your warmups/scales together, followed by any kind of etudes/exercises, and then your repertoire. This ensures correct practice method by starting with the easiest thing and finishing with the most difficult. , https://food.unl.edu/article/use-mise-en-place-make-meal-preparation-easier
2. Baby Steps!
Practice can be overwhelming, which can cause you to not practice at all. Ponder on this: when you climb a ladder, you don’t jump onto the fifth rung off the ground, right? Instead, you step up one rung at a time. Practicing works the same way, so don’t think you have to start practicing an hour a day, 7 days a week. Start with whatever you can manage. Only have 10 mins on a Tuesday and 7 mins on a Friday? That’s GREAT! Start there. The following week, you can do 15 mins on Tuesday and 10 mins on Friday. There is no harm in small practice sessions, as long as you can build off them. https://www.classicalguitar.org/2009/06/micro-practice-for-big-results/
3. Are you in school?
If you’re a student, whether in elementary, high school, or college, use your study breaks as small practice sessions. Lots of studies have found that music is a good way to relax and clear the mind. Even Einstein used to play his violin (that’s right— Einstein played the violin!) in between lab sessions when writing his theory of relativity. https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/uncommon-blog/15-15-minute-study-break-ideas
4. Add it to your daily checklist!
Are you the kind of person that likes physical, analog checklists? Put practice on your checklist and check that box once you are finished! This can prove to be more effective than a mental checklist. I got this helpful tip directly from one of my adult students and its been a wonderful incorporation in my own practice habits. https://www.richarddally.com/why-are-checklists-so-powerful/
5. Give yourself the time of day
When do you feel the freshest and most alert? Morning, afternoon, or evening? Some people feel the most alert in the morning, and some people feel most awake after work when they get home. Whatever time of day it is that you feel best, take that time to get a practice session in. https://medium.com/taking-note/here-are-the-most-and-least-productive-hours-of-the-day-cfed65ce12f9
6. The power of envisioning
Last but not least, use your imagination to envision yourself playing whatever it is you want to play. If you’re a guitarist and learning Eruption by Van Halen, and you really want to get there, picture yourself on a stage, shredding it up with a cranked 5150 and the Frankenstrat, and the crowd going crazy. Visualization can help you take your practice to the next level. https://meditationmoments.com/focus/visualization Happy Practicing!