A common question for amateur musicians is: How to find time to practice when you are totally busy? Lack of time is one of the main reason for quitting music. Here are some tips to find time to practice.
1. Schedule it.
Do you plan your practice sessions? It’s really important to do so, otherwise there will always be something more pressing, or you will just totally skip it. Every week, take your calendar and schedule your practice sessions, even if it’s only for 15 or 20 minutes four days a week. When it’s done, don’t forget to set up reminders. Ideally, associate your practice session with another habit, like your morning coffee, the goal is to add this practice time into your daily routine.
When you are scheduling your practice time and need to find a time slot, ask yourself: Is this other activity more important than my passion for music? Try to make music a priority, at least sometimes. Another question to consider is when is the best time for you to practice. For example you can wake up earlier (even just 15 minutes) and use this time to practice, when you are still fresh. You will begin your day with a moment for music.
2. Organise your practice time and set goals.
The best way to maintain your new resolution is to set goals. Before every practice time, you have to know what you are going to practice, how and for how long and what you want to achieve by the end of the week. If you have a teacher, it is easier, as they will probably give you some exercises and practice goals for the next lesson. Although, it is important to see the big picture and have a long term goal, always try to set small goals as well, that are manageable and realistic, in order to stay motivated.
You don’t need to practice 2 hours every day, 15 minutes a day can be sufficient. You have to practice smarter, not longer. Shorter periods of focus are better suited to help you keep your routine and improve your memory. Consistent practice is more important than long sessions.
3. During your practice session: Avoid distraction & enjoy!
Well done, you have stuck to your commitment and are ready to play. Here are some important tips for your practice time:
- Avoid every distraction: Put your phone on silent and close your laptop (except if you are using applications to practice, which can be a good idea to make your sessions easier and more enjoyable), tell your family or housemate that you are busy… Just make sure that this time is dedicated to practice.
- Don’t forget to set a practice time and stick to it, it’s important to respect your planning and to avoid long sessions if it was not scheduled. Otherwise you risk to be discouraged later if you spend too much time on practice when you had other commitments.
- Finally, enjoy this moment. It is a privileged moment for you and music in this busy life with many responsibilities and not much time to focus on oneself. This moment can be a way to revitalize yourself, so take time to listen to you, repeat your movements and watch yourself progress.
4. Track your sessions and take notes
Ideally, set up a practice journal and describe your sessions on it. Note the date, practice duration, your goal during this session, and what you practiced (which piece, scale or technique?). You can also record yourself to see your progress. It is the best way to stay focused on your goals, and you will see the benefits of your sessions over time.
5. Don’t forget to practice away from your instrument
Even if your instrument is not always in the room, there are many ways to practice. Many musicians visualise their movements, read their music sheet, watch videos or listen to the piece they are practicing, or just practice their fingerings. You will always have time, during a train ride or your commute time to immerse yourself into music and practice in your mind.
With these few tips, you should find time to practice efficiently, even for short periods. Keep in mind that regularity is the key to progress. Lastly, don’t forget that practicing music is a way to reconnect with yourself and to spend time on a personal project.