Monday, September 27, 2010

Finding Practice Time

I'm still adjusting to the demands of a career in music.  Now that my student days have passed, I find myself juggling responsibilities.  Sometimes it is difficult to fit everything in.  I'm finding it most difficult to schedule practice time.

Practicing is essential to the success of any musician.  Since it only requires one person -- me -- and my instrument, I try to fit it in between other activities such as meetings, classes, and coachings.  Here are a few of the things that I have found to be helpful in my own practicing.

1.  Realize the value of working away from the instrument.  Lots of musical decisions can be made without playing a note, including phrasing, articulation, and dynamics.  Analyze the form of the piece and its harmonic structure.  Study difficult rhythmic patterns.  The more of this advance work that I do away from the piano, the easier the playing itself goes.

2.  Listening is practicing, too.  I have recently realized how valuable reviewing recordings can be.  I am listening to not only professional recordings, but also to studio tracks of my own playing.  These rehearsal recordings are invaluable in revealing rushed passages as well as sections that are not coming across as I imagine in my mind.

3.  Small practice segments are perfectly acceptable!  It's much easier to find 20 minutes throughout the day to practice than to set aside 2 hours for uninterrupted practice.  The shorter sessions are also healthier!  My body has a chance to recover, my mind analyzes my playing, and my energy is renewed.  I find that several short sessions scattered throughout the day are much more productive than one long rehearsal that drains all my energy.

4.  Schedule it!  Whether I write it down or just plan it out in my head, I have a tentative schedule daily.  While including other tasks, make sure to fit in time for practice.  if I know where it's coming in the day, I find myself looking forward to it and fight to protect its appointment from being stolen by other activities.

I am certain that there are other tricks you have found to insure practicing fits into your busy life.  I'd like to hear from you -- so share your experience in the comment section below.