“I don’t have time to practice...”
“I have so many things going on...”
“I will practice when my schedule is less crazy...”
Sound familiar? My friend, I’m sorry to say that if you find yourself saying something to this effect on the reg, nothing can help you.
You see, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. And before you say that some people have more free time than others (which is true), scavenging for lost practice hours is first and foremost a mindset.
In order to find time to practice, you have to be willing to look for it. Can you shorten your screen time? Can you wake up earlier in the morning? Can you skip going out every now and then?
You have to remember that where there’s a will, there’s a way. That being said, however (sorry for lecturing you), let’s dive into these tips to help you uncover some extra practice hours.
SOME PRACTICE IS BETTER THAN NONE
Most (young) music students won’t believe this, but the golden rule of practicing anything is consistency over quantity.
What I mean by that is it’s better to practice everyday for 15 minutes, than once a week for 1.75 hours.
Whether that's 30 minutes, or even 5 or 10 minutes, going to your instrument and moving your fingers is always a good idea. Granted, you will not accomplish as much during a short session as you would during a longer one, but as you add up your weekly hours, it’s much better to spread them out evenly over a longer period of time than to cram them all at the end of the week.
Not to mention, your piano teacher can most likely tell when you’ve crammed your practice right before a lesson. You’re not fooling anyone (except maybe yourself).
So, if it’s any consolation, you can make time for a teeny practice session even on your busiest day, and keep moving that needle forward.
DEFINE YOUR PRACTICE GOALS
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
- Parkinson’s law
A surefire way to make the most of the limited time you do have is to make a clear-cut list of all the things you want to accomplish in a given week. The catch? You don’t even necessarily have to accomplish all of it! Simply having the list is enough to use your time more wisely.
Apart from that, of course, writing down your practice goals along with how long you would practice in a perfect world can help you pinpoint how big of a time gap you are actually looking for in your daily schedule.
Whether that’s two 15-minute sessions, or 4 1-hour sessions, putting a number on it will make you a lot more likely to find and use that time efficiently.
DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP
Finally, don’t beat yourself up on the days you don’t practice. We all have those days.
Now, I have to be careful with saying this, because there are lazy practicers out there who are always looking for excuses not to practice. If you’re one of those, you’ve just found one 🤨.
I’m talking more to the overachievers, the musicians who hold themselves accountable, sometimes taking it to the extreme. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Whether it’s finals week, or an important project at work, or maybe you are just feeling burnt out and need some time to yourself, take some time off.
It’s just as important to take time to yourself as it is to put time into your practice. If your cup is empty, how can you expect to fill your music with passion and feeling? Always try to make sure your battery is charged as much as possible, and at the very least, you are not running on empty.
Take a break and give yourself some TLC.