Super-charge this years practice – Practice planning part 1

New-Year-Practice-Preparation-1At the start of any new year people across the world turn their attention to the year ahead. Thoughts naturally focus on what is to come and what might be. For many musicians it is also a time to consider their own playing and what they would like to achieve in the coming year.

However for many this mere wondering is as far as their planning gets. Some may take it a stage futher and make new year’s resolutions – I’m sure I’m not alone in having made a resolution to ‘practice everyday’!! Sadly this lack of thought and direction usually leads to disappointment after the first throws of enthusiasm dissapear.

In this series of articles we will cover some ideas on planning your practice more effectively. Even if you do not agree with all the ideas the very process of deeper consideration will in itself make your practice more productive. The ideas I present will give a structure which you can use to create and track your plan. My greatest hope is that you will find something of use to help use your practice time more effectively this year.

Before I cover the planning process we should consider a more fundamental question – Why is it important to plan your practice?

1. Wasted Time
We all agree that our time is important, right? If you don’t have a practice plan then you will undoubtedly be wasting some, if not all of your practice time. Instead of working towards where you want to go you will be playing for the sake of playing. You may improve but you will not know why you have improved or for what purpose.

2. What’s Next
Ever have that feeling of having practiced something and not knowing what to do next? With a practice plan you will always know exactly what to do next. Either you will have completed the tasks you set yourself for that practice session or you will move onto the next thing on you list.

3. Satisfaction
If you have a practice plan you will have a continual sense of satisfaction in meeting the daily, weekly and monthly tasks you have set for yourself. You will end each practice session knowing that you have made a small but important step towards you ultimate goals. Without a plan you may have a productive practice session but you will not have the same sense of satisfaction.

4. Progress
Musicians are some of the most self-critical people I know. I frequently hear of friends who question their progress. The issue is not the progress they are making but rather their ability to track it. Armed with your practice plan you can see exactly how far you have come and how far you still have to go.

Finally for this part an old adage which is relevant – 

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

In the next part we will deal with how to assess your current abilities as a musician. Make sure you don’t miss it bysubscribing.

Continue: Where are you now? – Practice planning part 2

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