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4 Practice Strategies that NEVER Work (You’ve Tried at Least One!)

Is your practice strategy failing you?

In this third part of our Spring Cleaning Challenge blog series, I challenge you to look at how you might be sabotaging your practice. If you’ve missed parts one and two of the series, you can read them later. This one is critical!

Let’s face facts; practicing is hard work. It takes patience, self-discipline and energy. It takes concentration, motivation and perseverance. It takes time. If you’re like me, those are qualities that are often in short supply. And when the going gets tough, sometimes it’s hard to get going.

Certainly springtime can inspire you to new bursts of energy. But it doesn’t always inspire the right energy to practice. It may seem even easier than usual to succumb to distractions that take you away from practicing. Often those distractions are subtle and sneaky ways to procrastinate, so subtle that we don’t even notice the damage they are causing.

In fact, they may show up in the guise of good practice “strategies,” ones that seem designed to ensure that we do our best work when we sit down to practice. The problem is that they all encourage us to put practice on the back burner.

Sometimes my students have shared their strategies with me, proud of their dedication to their music. I try to warn them that these strategies aren’t going to produce the good results they want, but such warnings usually don’t carry much weight. Then a few weeks later, as their progress starts to slow, they wonder why they aren’t learning their music more quickly.

I’d like to keep you from making a similar mistake. Let’s look at four common practice “strategies” and how you can keep from falling into the same traps.

Strategy 1: Waiting until after you do your chores.

If you’ve ever said, “I work better when the house is clean,” you’ve been in danger of falling into this trap. That fifteen minutes that you plan to spend straightening up leads to starting a load of laundry, sorting the mail, and getting dinner organized. By that time, you need to sit down for a few minutes. As you begin to regain your energy to practice, the phone rings, and you’re off and running in a different direction. Not practicing.

You may feel better and more clear-headed when the chores are done, but those chores don’t have any actual impact on your music. Yes, it is even possible to ignore that pile of music on the floor next to your music stand.

Practice first; clean later.

Strategy 2: Waiting until the house is quiet.

Some people find it difficult to focus when there is extraneous noise. I understand. But if you think you might ever need to play for a wedding, a party or a prelude for a church service, there will be plenty of noise, talking and distraction. It’s actually very helpful to learn to tune out the noise and focus on what you are playing.

Perhaps you like to wait until everyone is out of the house because it makes you nervous to think they may be listening. Be assured that they probably are more engaged in whatever they are doing. After all even a virtuoso’s scales aren’t that much fun to listen to.

Strategy 3: Waiting until you’re in the mood.

Practice is the number one mood lifter. What is more fun than practicing, perfecting and playing music you love?

If you need a boost, sit down and play your favorite piece. Play it again. And a third time. By the time you’ve played your favorite piece two or three times, you should be ready to practice.

Having a regular warm-up can serve as a focus trigger, a habit that draws your mind into your practice even when your mood isn’t right. Keeping a regular practice time is even more powerful. Both of these create habits that will help you practice even when your energy or motivation is low.

Strategy 4: Waiting until you have more time.

You will never have more time. Time is a finite resource. How you spend your time is your choice. Reserving a small amount of time – even just 15 minutes – for practice each day will help you stay connected to your music and keep the procrastination demon away.   

Waiting is a dangerous strategy where your practice habits are concerned.  Your time is now, when you’re thinking about it. Even if you don’t have much time or the room is a mess of the kids are making noise in the other room.

Wait no longer. Do it NOW. Speaking of now…

Don’t miss my April 24th webinar, Discover the 3 Steps to Filling in the Missing Pieces So You Can Finish the Music You Start and Play the Way You Want. It’s a long title but the three steps are short and sweet!

And when you register for the webinar, you will be directed to a self-assessment to help you prepare for creating your personal 3-step plan to fill in those missing pieces and play the music! CLICK NOW TO REGISTER

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