It doesn’t matter how old you are. Young or old, working or retired, a kid in school or an empty nester, it’s always the same dilemma, “finding the time” to practice. Parents blame electronics for why their kids haven’t learned a song. Adults blame work. In all honesty, I’ve heard it all and it comes down to one fundamental thing.
How important is learning to play music?
I get it. When a kid tells me they had two hours of algebra homework every night that week, then by all means, that’s far more important; at least as far as the SAT is concerned. But in a world where binge watching Netflix is the normal form of relaxation, I would like to suggest we all look at “practice” from a new perspective.
Replace “Practice” with “Pamper”
Maybe practice isn’t just one more thing to add to the “to do” list. Feed the dog, fold the laundry, get groceries, practice the piano. Instead, “play guitar for 30 minutes” could be right up there with other positive forms of self care like going for a run, getting a facial, or sitting down to finish reading the last paperback from the stack of books you bought at the beginning of the summer. Pamper yourself with the chance to learn to play a song you love.
The Break Up Method
Just like brushing your teeth, sometimes, breaking up the practicing so that it fits neatly into a routine is also helpful. I often refer to this as the “brushing your teeth” form of practicing. Get up in the morning, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth and practice ten minutes before you head out the door. At night, before bed, change your clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth and practice for another ten minutes.
Set a Hard Deadline
Some students, I find work better under pressure. If you’re a deadline kind of person, set a date for a concert. By concert, I mean, set a date for anything from playing for the elderly neighbor who needs some cheering up next door, to a 45 minute set at the local hospital to debuting the latest song you wrote at open mic at the local coffee shop.
The trick to setting a deadline is to go public. Tell your friends and invite them to whatever form of performance you decide upon. Friends will keep you honest and prevent you from backing out as the deadline approaches.