What can you do to bring the spark back to practicing?
Why do we practice? Because most of us want to improve and we know that it’s only possible through regular practice. And, while we know that practice is the proven path to success, why do we get tired of doing what helps us to accomplish our musical goals and become better musicians?
Personally, the time I spend practicing gives me a sense of accomplishment. I look forward to learning new songs, riffs and techniques that I will incorporate in to my performances.
Still, with all of the positive benefits from practicing, why do we get tired of the one thing that helps us improve and achieve our musical goals?What can be done to improve this situation? What can we do as musicians to bring the spark back to practicing?
Reward Yourself - Staying focused during practice sessions can be challenging. First, set attainable goals and create a short list of gratifying rewards. For example, let’s say that you set a goal of practicing one hour per day for the week. Buy yourself a delicious dessert or go to your favorite restaurant. Sure you’ll probably go there anyway, but with the mindset that you’re rewarding yourself for achieving your weekly goal will add more value to the reward.
Hold Yourself Accountable - Committing to regular practice makes sense for many reasons. However, we all have different sides to our character. For me, there are times when I would rather be outside working in my yard or taking a ride with the top down. Still, I know that it’s important to grow musically through practice.
If I find that I wander away from my scheduled practice time, I penalize myself by doing something I loathe. For example, last week was a tough one to stay on track and I missed two practice sessions. For my penalty, I cleaned the dishwasher. I despise doing this.The more I think about cleaning that dishwasher, the more I realize that I can avoid it by staying on track. Find those tasks that you hate doing and use them as leverage to stick to your practice schedule.
Get a New Instrument - If you find that practicing is a challenge or worse, no longer enjoyable, consider a new instrument. Sometimes the instrument you’re currently playing may be outdated or in need of repair. If your instrument no longer inspires you or it’s difficult to play due to its age or condition, then it may be time to replace it. If you can’t afford a new instrument, it might be helpful to have your instrument checked out by a repair shop.
Switch Things Up - Maybe everything is fine with your instrument and you find that there are other factors contributing to your lack of desire to practice. Then it may be time to switch things up! Start with analyzing how you practice. If your sessions are longer, try breaking them down into shorter 10 – 20 minute intervals. This will allow you to mentally check out for a few minutes between sessions. Match your practice sessions to your individual attention span. Make the most out of how your mind works!
Teach Someone Else - There‘s nothing like realizing you don’t know what you thought you knew when you start teaching others to play! Back in college, I started giving trombone lessons and I quickly realized that I needed to spend more time learning about alternate slide positions. By guiding beginners and introducing them to new techniques involved with playing the trombone, it caused me to learn more about my own instrument!
Hopefully, these 5 tips will provide you with the insight and inspiration to remain dedicated to practicing. With a few minor tweaks and creativity, you’ll find ways to minimize the negative feelings and replace them with more positive thoughts and dedication. The results will be worth the effort!