Determining when and how to practice can be daunting or feel like a chore, especially for new musicians. It’s important to create a space free of distractions like TVs or computers. Mix up what you practice so you have the chance to play music you love and not just dry technical exercises. And find little ways to reward yourself after meeting your goals to keep you coming back to the practice room each day.
Block Sessions vs. Little and Lots
For some musicians, practicing once a day for a large block of time is the easiest way to maintain a consistent schedule. These chunks allow for deeper and more prolonged exploration on a single work or select group of songs. However, this approach may not suit everyone, especially children who have a hard time concentrating for long stretches of time.
The Little & Lots method can prove more effective by incorporating practice into small bursts throughout the day. For example, warm up for fifteen minutes in the morning and then work on a small section of music for twenty minutes to an hour three or four times throughout the course of the day.
Begin each practice session with a realistic goal in mind, like working on your rhythmic accuracy for a set of particularly difficult measures or singing through an entire piece without having to stop and look at your music. Having an outline for your practice gives structure to your time so you don’t end up spending an hour playing through old or easy music.
Along with setting daily practice goals, keep a record of when, how long, and how productive each practice session is. You’ll be able to identify patterns of when you were playing your best and when your mind might have been elsewhere (perhaps around mealtimes). Detailed records will also help you to create better and more achievable goals as you develop greater musicianship and technical accuracy.