I’ve noticed something profound. People who practice their musical discipline get better. Amazing news, I know. Who would have thought?!
So why do so many students have to be cajoled, convinced, and coerced into regular practice? Really. I teach students from 6 to 66 and every single age group has the same dang curse. They don’t practice regularly. When they do, they make superhuman progress. I have four or five students who currently practice like machines. Each of them make jaw-dropping progress. Oh, and every single one of them remember all the skills I’ve taught them. So WHY? Why don’t people practice. Kids have distractions, college students are tired, and adults are all very busy.
Unfortunately there may be no easy solution to being busy, tired, or distracted, but there are some great ways to remind ourselves to practice. Here are a few.
Write yourself notes. Any note is better than no note, but putting some pizzazz into your notes will mean you’ll be more likely to read your own reminder.
- Take a picture of yourself or your best friend holding a handwritten sign reminding you of the benefits of practicing.
- Frame it and place it in a prominent place in your home.Use red lipstick on your bathroom mirror with snide comments on your practicing efforts – make it playful – then update your personal messages from time to time and mix it up.
- Use magnetic lettering on your fridge with the words “Practice Today”. You can add a time or song project goal to remind yourself of specifically how much or what to practice and change it up daily.
Set an alarm. Most phones have the capability of beeping, dinging, and chirping as many times a day as there are minutes. Here are several strategies when setting reminder alarms.
- Consider setting the alarm for just a few minutes before a daily time you’re most likely to have free time. Most importantly, make the alarm fun!
- If you’re paying for your lessons, wouldn’t it be worth it to pay a dollar or two to buy your favorite song as a ring tone to plug in to your alarm?
- Or consider creating a vocal reminder. Ask a friend to put on their most annoying voice to record a reminder alarm to make it more fun.
Set up rewards for successes. What do you indulge in? Promise yourself a reward if hit your daily or weekly practice goals (hint: write down your practice goals and promised awards in a convenient place). Here are several ideas.
- Chocolate. Sure, it’s simple, but who can deny the motivational power of the promise of the delectable at the end of a satisfying week of practice. Every time you pass the candy aisle in the grocery story, you’ll remember to practice.
- Video games. This is one way of taking one of the biggest distractions to your practice time and turning it into motivation. Every time you think of the next level you want to get to, tell yourself that you have to make it to the next level on your instrument before you allow yourself to tackle the next video game level.
- Moolah. Add a quarter (or a dollar) to a jar every day that you practice. At the end of the month or the year, buy yourself a treat. This is a great way to create an ongoing reward system. Imagine saving enough to buy that new instrument.
So there you have it. Practice makes permanent. Practice well using the fundamental skills necessary for your instrument. Then practice regularly. You’ll be a pro in no time.
Do you have another suggestion on how to remember to practice (especially of creative reminder signage)? Share your thoughts here! Great ideas are everywhere, so don’t hold yours back from the rest of us!