Practicing an instrument is a daunting task. I mean who wants to sit home and practice their keys and intonation or learn harder tunes just for fun? Who does that? Most of the time when I take out my fiddle, I just want to sound good so I play what I already know. That isn’t really practicing though.
It’s easy to practice when I have an upcoming gig, a dance, or a session that I’m planning to go to. But when I don’t, I need to stay diligent in order for me to actually motivate myself to work on something new or something that needs improvement. It’s not easy. But, without practice, you never get better.
So, here are some ways to stay motivated to practice the hard stuff and become the musician you were meant to be:
Music practice tips
Aside from having something to practice for, here are a few ideas on how to stay motivated:
- Keep a practice journal – Designate a specific music journal that is just for your practice. Write down what you want to work on and how you are going to do the work. For example, this week’s journal could include improving your intonation. One way to improve your sound is to practice scales with a tuner and stop each time a note is out of tune to fix it. Write down what you did to practice and what the result was. From my practice, I noticed that a lot of times my F# and C are consistently out of tune. Now that I know this I can make a conscious effort to improve that when I’m playing. Keeping a practice journal is also good to look back at over time and see how much you have improved.
- Set a weekly goal –Setting a weekly goal gives you something to aim for and gives you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the week. To use the above example, if you’re working on your intonation, you could set a goal to learn 3 keys by the end of the week and play them all in tune. I work full time, own a house, have a dog and do various other extracurricular activities, so learning more than that would be unrealistic for me. Challenge yourself but be sure your goals are achievable. When you achieve your goal it gives you a little inspiration to keep going. So set realistic goals.
- Find a practice buddy – It’s just like exercising, sometimes it’s easier to have someone there to hold you accountable. I’m more apt to go to the gym if I know my friend is there waiting for me. Plus, it’s so much more fun to practice with other people.
- Practice exercises in small increments – It’s less daunting if you just commit to the first 5-10 minutes of your playing to practicing something new. Sometimes if I’m learning a new tune, I try to run through the scale and intervals of the key the new tune is in. I limit myself to 10 minutes of this grueling task and then move on.
We all know practicing is no fun. But if you don’t practice you won’t get better. It’s literally that simple. It’s all about putting the time in and having some fun along the way.