One of the things I find can bottleneck anyone’s progress on an instrument is not having clearly defined goals to work towards. And it might be the case at times that one of my students, or someone who’s just started lessons with me HAS set goals for themselves, but these goals might be unrealistic taking into account their experience at that time. Now, it’s a good thing to have a vision of where you want to be and what you’d like to do with an instrument; but if all your goals are set too high, with no planning for the work you’ll need in between, these “goals” might be better described merely as dreams, or even as fantasy. So i’d like to share the method I encourage my students to adopt, and the one I use myself.
Something I discuss on a regular basis with my students is splitting up their practise time to help them get better results. After a while of playing and maybe getting invloved with different bands, school music projects, or studying for grade exams (or maybe doing all those things at the same time), the list of things that you need to work on can seem overwhelming. It could also be that you’ve got personal goals you’d like to meet with your playing, but feel at a loss with where to get started when you have the time to practise.
It’s a tale as old as time itself, for beginners and advanced students alike. You have the instrument, the books, the online tutorials all at your fingertips, and still can’t find that motivation to pick up your instrument as often as you’d like.
Over the years i’ve been teaching this has been a frequent problem, and when it comes to discussing it with my students, it usually boils down to the same handful of reasons. Some people have demanding jobs and work irregular hours, limiting their available time. Others will feel a bit overwhelmed, with practising feeling like it’ll be a chore, especially if they haven’t done any all week, and their lesson is tomorrow.
But, the common thing I have found in pretty much all cases, is that the person hasn’t really established any kind of routine for themselves; they’ll often treat their instrument practise as some special, separate thing, while at the same time attend a regular sports practise, or maybe visit the gym twice a week as a matter of course.
The overall theme here is to establish a routine, and to stick to it. This routine can be reviewed or altered to suit your needs at different times, but there needs to be some underlying element of structure to your practise, to make any siginificant progress.
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