The New Year is here and with it comes a flood of New Year’s resolutions. Along with “read more books” and “lose those 10 pounds”, I have been seeing lots of people posting about the musical goals that they want to achieve. Here’s a secret: all of those musical goals from learning piano skills , learning how to improvise or how to clap a quarter note triplet all have one thing in common: YOU WILL NEED TO PRACTICE. In this post, I will share with you my top tips to establish a practice routine in 2022.
PLUS – you can download a FREE “don’t break the chain” practice sheet. Click here to get it NOW.
I have read every productivity book out there and almost all of the experts from James Clear to Gretchen Rubin agree: you need to start small. Almost all of us have made those dreaded New Year’s resolutions to go to the gym, learn a foreign language, or lose those dreaded Last Ten Pounds and by Valentine’s Day we have fallen off the wagon and feel like a failure.
I know you probably think that I have been diligently practicing every day for my entire life. I hate to burst that bubble, but I have gone through a great many years where daily practice was extremely challenging. When my son was born, I went from having luxurious hours of practice every day to barely touching the piano unless I was teaching. When my son was a bit older and I had the time in my life to devote to music making, I was shocked to discover how difficult it was to get back into it. Why? Because I was out of the habit. I worked hard to establish a practice routine in 2022 and here are my tips for you!
Here are my top tips to establish a practice routine in 2022.
1. Schedule your practice
In my life if it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done. At the start of every week, take a look at your calendar and write in when you will do your practicing each day. When you block out that time, you will be more apt to actually use it.
2. Pick the right time of day for your practice routine
When I started teaching my son to play piano at age 4, I knew that he would be too tired to practice after school. I wanted to make music something enjoyable and not turn it into a big fight. Since he was an early bird, I figured we should do it before school. So at 7:30am every day we would meet in the studio for practice time. It became part of his morning routine: eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, practice piano.
3. Stack practice into your day
Find something you do every day and stack your practice either right before or right after. If you work from home, maybe you could squeeze in a short practice session right after lunch. If you have a little bit of downtime after you drop the kids off at school, carpe diem! If you pair a regular task with your practice, you will be more likely to automatically do it.
4. Hold all “treats” until you do your practice routine
This is the practicing equivalent of “you can’t have dessert until you have eaten your vegetables.” If you like to relax in the evenings with Netflix, a glass of wine or a little Instagram scrolling (or all three!), then don’t allow yourself to partake in those activities unless you have practiced. This is a great way to offer yourself a reward for your work and will make your glass of wine that much more refreshing.
5. Just practice for 5 minutes
If you are feeling daunted by a 45 minute practice routine, just commit to doing 5 minutes. Set the timer, sit down and just do something. Often you will find that once you get started, you’ll get on a roll and spend longer playing.
6. Don’t break the chain
This is a game that Jerry Seinfeld has used since his early days as a comic. Every time you practice, make a black X (or put a star sticker) on your calendar. Once you have enough black X’s on the calendar, you won’t want to break your streak. Download your very own “Don’t Break the Chain” practice tracker. Click here to get it NOW.
7. Trade things out
The best way to find time in your life is to remove the tasks that are not valuable or could be done by somebody else. Could you cut down on your social media scrolling, trade out that long phone call with your chatty mother-in-law, hire a neighborhood kid to mow the lawn or delegate some household tasks to your kids? I bet you there are a lot of things in your life that could go. Now is the time to say bye-bye so you can make time for this.
8. Remind yourself why you are practicing
What is your why? Maybe you are living out a lifelong dream to play piano; you are building skills so that you can get better gigs; or you are trying to get your skills together so that you can make more money. Whatever your why, you need to write it down and keep it in your practice area. It will keep you motivated and inspired to practice, even when you don’t really feel like it.
Find what works for your practice routine
The point of any of these tips it to find what works for you. Once you get into the habit of practicing, it won’t be such an effort to do it. PLUS – the more you practice, the more your playing and musicianship will improve and that is the best motivation of all!