How To Make Time To Practice Your Instrument
In most pursuits, the better you are at something, the more you enjoy doing it. This is true no matter whether you’re in elementary school or navigating retirement. Then, because you enjoy what you’re doing, you get better at it, and this virtuous cycle continues on and on. Learning to sing or play an instrument is no different. The more hours you can devote to playing the guitar, drums, flute, violin, or whichever instrument you’d like, the better you’ll get.
This is far from rocket science. The real challenge, for many, is finding the time for consistent practice. In order to help you overcome that challenge, here are our three keys for making time to practice your instrument:
1. Make The Most Of Your Commute
It doesn’t matter whether you’re taking the bus to school, grabbing the subway to the office, driving to the doctor’s office, or walking to your friend’s house, you’ve got to commute at some point. This time is a valuable opportunity you can take advantage of.
If you’re driving or walking, sing; if you’re taking the bus to school, strum your guitar quietly; if you’re taking public transportation, drum on your legs. Or, make use of the time in another way. If you’re studying a language, use audio lessons; if you’ve got homework, read your assigned chapter before you get home; if you’re driving, listen to the news on the way home and skip watching the news on TV once you’re home.
Take the time you would otherwise spend on these activities and devote at least some of it to practicing music. There are plenty of opportunities to multi-task in a positive way. Figure out yours and you’ll suddenly find an extra half hour or more a day.
2. Turn Your Phone Off
Really, do it. This can be scary at first, but if you turn your phone off for a half hour and completely put your mind to learning one specific skill or piece of music, you’ll have much more success than if you respond to every text. Plenty of time is lost due to checking the clock and immediately responding to every single notification your phone launches at you.
The world will not end if you turn your phone off. Plus, once you turn it back on you’ll get the added bonus of feeling really popular when 16 emails/texts/Facebook chat heads pop up. That’s a win-win. While your phone is resting, move on to tip number three.
3. Play Less, Not Less Often
Yes, we just recommended playing less. More is probably better, but you don’t have to play for six hours a day to stay sharp or improve - unless you’re a professional musician or want to be one, in which case you should prioritize music above almost everything else. For the rest of us, shorter periods of focused, distraction-free practice each day can make a huge difference. But, make sure you keep up a schedule. Practicing for two hours on Sunday and then not picking up your instrument again until Thursday isn’t going to cut it. The two hours on Sunday are great, but if you can turn that into 30 minutes daily from Sunday through Wednesday, you’ll be better off.
According to expert flute teacher Lish Lindsey, “consistency is key” to improvement.
“Even achieving 15 minutes of quality daily practice is better than one 60-minute cram session right before your lesson,” she wrote in “Four Tips for the Best Online Music Lessons.”
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