Establishing a Practice Schedule

It’s really important to establish some kind of practice schedule. Many times, I have new students (college or private students) who realize they have to practice between lessons but just never seem to get around to it. Before they know it, a full semester is over and they really haven’t made any progress, which is frustrating for everyone involved.

Most of the time, I believe that the good intentions are there. And yes, music majors take lots of classes and participate in multiple ensembles and have lots to do. With careful, deliberate planning, however, it’s possible to schedule the practice time you need.

Some general ideas:

– Actually block off time in your schedule designated specifically for practicing. Avoid using it for lunch, socializing, homework, errands, sleeping, and so forth. As a musician, practicing is part of your job, so treat it with professionalism.

– Write your designated practice time in your schedule. Or enter it into your online planner. Make sure it ends up wherever you will see it until it becomes habit.

– Arrange your practice time for when you practice best. Some people love getting work done first thing in the morning, before anyone else is around to be a distraction. Others work best late at night. Maybe right before or after lunch is when you’re most alert. Figure out when your most effective practice time is and make sure you schedule around that. A reasonable amount of focused practice is better than lots of unfocused practice.

– Your practice time doesn’t have to be one large block. Maybe you have 30 free minutes between classes early in the morning. That’s perfect for your warm-up! You can then schedule another practice session for technical work and repertoire, or you can split that work into two sessions.

Next post: ideas on organizing your practice time.