For many of us, finding the time to practice is challenging. Even for me, finding time for practice often takes a back seat to the business aspect of music and the many things we have to take care of in everyday life. Finding practice time is challenging in part because we think we need a lot of time – 30 mins or more. However, it may seem more manageable if we think about aiming for 10 mins a day. A smaller chunk of practice time done consistently tends to be better than 30 mins or more once or twice a week. Consistency is the key to improvement.
Therefore, I am issuing a 7 day 10 minute practice challenge! I got this fabulous idea from the wonderful Michelle Stewart. Michelle, who is also from my home town of Sydney Mines, is an incredible bodhran player and teacher who has an extremely successful online teaching site: bodhranexpert.com. Michelle is also learning the fiddle and last September on her blog she issued the 10 Minute a Day Practice Challenge.
I am going also going to take this challenge- who is taking it with me?! If we can do it for 7 days then we can do it everyday! I will also be announcing this on my Facebook fan page and will keep you posted on my progress. I hope you will do the same!
Some ideas for making the most of your practice time:
Leave your instrument out of the case– Keeping your instrument handy and ready to use provides a lot more incentive to practice than having to dig it out of the case.
Listening and observing is also practice– If you don’t have time to physically pick up the instrument, get some listening time in while driving, doing the dishes, etc. Or if you are working on the computer, take a 5 minute break to watch your favorite player on youtube. Make note of a new tune you want to learn or take good notice of their technique- bow hand, fingering hand, etc.
Visualize the tune you are learning– Again, if you don’t have time to pick up the instrument, take 5 minutes when you catch a short break to visualize playing through a tune or just part of a tune that you are working on. Picture every fingered note and bow stroke, slur, etc. If the mind can do it, the body will be sure to follow soon enough
Make a clear, focused plan- Instead of just playing through a tune, take the 10 minutes and pick a phrase that is particularly troublesome and loop it. If you play piano or some other accompaniment instrument, pick a chord pattern that is difficult and loop that. You may choose to work on issues in bowing, coordination, intonation, etc. For example, if a 16th note passage is giving you trouble in a tune, try spending the 10 mins doing an exercise like I’ve outline in this video:
Please join me in this challenge and let me know of your progress! Who is with me?!