• Sandra Howe

Find Practice a Chore? Change your Thinking and Cue Success!

Do you find yourself avoiding practice? Do you put it on your to-do list of chores along with putting out the bins and doing the ironing? Let’s see if we can’t change that today (at least a little) and reignite that passion for practice!

Piano close up

Much of the time, the difference between who we are and who we want to be is all in the mind and a simple change of the mind can produce changes in how we behave. The best thing you can do for yourself is find out why you feel practice is a chore and change that. Here are some ideas:

1. Not “you” Enough

Is your practice time, a time for you? Think about it: is it a reward, or a punishment? How do you feel when you practice? If you feel frustrated and you talk negatively to yourself while you practice it is no wonder it feels like a chore. Create a safe pleasant space for you. Change the environment to one that you like and enjoy. Make sure you have everything you need and talk kindly to yourself. Prepare the room and organize your practice in a way that you’ll love and enjoy and view this time as a gift to yourself. Your “me” time.

2. Setting your sights too high

If you have a goal of playing a Chopin’s Nocturne and you’ve only had 2 lessons that could be why practice is off putting. Having a goal that’s too high can lead to impatience and frustration. It’s perfectly fine to have big goals but you also need little goals too. Large goals can weigh heavily and put you off practice because all you think about is how far you have to go and just the thought of that can be tiring enough. Work on a small goal that is achievable within a couple of weeks, a week or even one practice session. Reaching these goals can actually give you energy rather than take energy away and you’ll find yourself running to the practice room!

3. Procrastination

This is one of my major obstacles! In fact, procrastination, even though we think it gives us more time to do other things, it does the exact opposite. The amount of time and energy it takes to hold something in the mind as a mental reminder is surprising. You know the drill. “I’ve got to do some practice”, “I’ll do it later” repeat ad infinitum. It takes up time and energy. Instead resort to a schedule. Have a set time that you practice, make sure it’s a realistic amount of time that makes you want to practice rather than run away. If your goal is 2 hours and that gives you a headache just thinking about it, it’s probably best you schedule a shorter amount of time. Personally I schedule a longer time and allow myself a relaxed practice time – one where I can have regular breaks with cups of tea and enjoy myself. Do whatever works for you. Once you’ve practiced you’re no longer procrastinating you won’t believe how light you’ll feel.

4. Too many Limitations

What is practice to you and could you broaden your definition? Most of us assume that practice time is time playing your instrument and nothing else. This can limit our practice and limit our learning. Practice can be many things. It can be listening to music, recording yourself playing, doodling on your instrument or even doing some research. It could be using an app or performing some finger exercises. Often these non-instrument activities indirectly help improve our playing and I count them as practice too.

Give yourself time to think about why your practice is a chore and work to find ways on changing that so you not only want to practice, but you can’t wait!

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