If you are taking piano lessons, having a practice plan could help you to reach your musical goals considerably. Might you be willing to try it for even a week just to see if you accomplish more than usual? When we were in school we had assignments with due dates and deadlines that we had to meet. But now as adults, we must discipline ourselves, which is not easy! Here are some suggestions for creating a practice plan:
- Keep a chart- It is very satisfying to write in the number of minutes you practiced each day on a chart or calendar page. If you are really motivated, write how many minutes you spent on each piece or exercise. Bring it in to show your teacher, or if you prefer, keep it to yourself and note your progress from week to week. Do you notice a pattern? See what you were motivated to practice the most, and the least. What could you have spent more time on to further your progress? Make yourself a note to get to the things you under-practiced in the following week.
- Pair your practice with an event- Rather than setting a strict time to practice, pair it with an event such as: Right after washing the dinner dishes; First thing in the morning after you get up (a great time to practice when your mind is receptive); Or just before bed (another great time to practice; the brain embeds new skills into long-term memory more easily when we go to sleep right after playing).
- Form a habit- If you’re usually free on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday evenings, make those your regular practice evenings, and don’t let yourself get waylaid or distracted!
- Make a plan- As best as you can, make a practice plan each week when you get home from your lesson. Determine your goals for the week. What needs increased focus? When will you fit in review? Remember to work your exercises into your plan. Exercises improve your technique and help you to understand music structure so that you can read sheet music more easily.
Of course we can’t always stick to our weekly plan, but without a plan we’re less likely to practice consistently. If you have any motivational techniques that help you get to the bench, share them with us! Sometimes the best ideas come from students.
With love and music, Gaili