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No Time to Practice? Try 15 Minutes!

news practicing Jul 16, 2018

You have no time to practice?

Perhaps you’re getting ready for a trip or you have a special project at work. Maybe a family member needs extra care right now. Or maybe things are just crazy.

Whatever the situation, if you can find 15 minutes, you can do enough practice to tide you over the busy period.

Can’t find 15 minutes? I can help you with that too. But first let’s talk about why that 15 minutes is critical.

If you’re like most musicians, you would like to be doing an hour or two of practice each day. When that hour is used efficiently, you can experience growth over time, developing your technique, expanding your repertoire, preparing music to perform. An hour may not be enough to accomplish everything you would like as quickly as you wish, but it will get the job done.

I know how frustrating it is to feel that you have no time to practice. When things feel out of control, it’s so easy to tell yourself, “I’ll get back to it next week.”

When next week arrives, although you have the time to practice, it can be surprisingly difficult to get motivated to actually do the work. “The harp has a broken string.” “My calluses are worn off.” “I’m afraid I will have lost all the progress I made on my piece.” Fears like these create procrastination, which leads to frustration, which further erodes progress. Plus, you begin to feel guilty about not getting back to your practice.

The good news is that there is a lot of room between an hour of practice and no time to practice. Fifty-nine minutes to be exact. My challenge to you is to turn your “no time” into “promise” time. I call it Promise Practice, and it takes only 15 minutes.

With just 15 minutes of practice each day, you can stay connected to your instrument, keep the rust off your technique, and maintain, at least to some degree, the progress you’ve already made. No procrastination, no frustration and no guilt.

Your Promise Practice can be whatever you want it to be. You could do some technical exercises, run through a piece or two, review repertoire, work on some trouble spots. In fact, I would suggest that your Promise Practice include each of these in turn.

There is only one rule for Promise Practice: that you commit to doing it without fail. If you’re busy, tired, distracted or just unmotivated, keeping this promise to yourself will renew your energy.

Promise Practice doesn’t have to be just for emergency use. In fact, if you build the habit now, when life isn’t so crazy, you will be able to rely on that habit later when the going gets rough. I use it myself each morning. When I get my Promise Practice in (I actually do 20 to 30 minutes), I know that even if my schedule blows up later on, I will still have played the harp that day.

Are you convinced that 15 minutes of practice would be helpful, but not sure that you can create 15 minutes in your schedule? Here are some possibilities:

  • After your coffee but just before your breakfast.
  • While the dinner is cooking.
  • Just after dinner but before you do the dishes.
  • Before you go for a run.
  • Right after you walk the dog.
  • Just before your favorite show comes on.

The trick is to choose a predictable time, one you can almost always depend on having, and to put your practice before a tiresome or physically tiring activity. You won’t be too worn out to practice and you’ll approach that other task feeling like a champion.

No time to practice? There’s always time for Promise Practice!

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