We all have those times where we just don’t want to pick up our instrument. It may scare you. You may feel burdened by a new piece that you have been assigned. You may simply just not be in the mood. That third reason is what I am going to focus in on today. I am a music major (if you were not aware), and not only that, but I am a performance major: flute to be exact. That means I have to practice a lot. Quite a bit more than music ed majors and even other performance majors, based on their instrument. If you are curious about my thoughts on how much to practice, click here. Now on to the part about what to do when you just can’t find the energy to get to a practice room, take out your instrument, and get your music out to just go through the motions.
If you don’t want to practice, I don’t think you should. Well, I think you should keep consistent with your practice schedule, but don’t force yourself. If you are not engaged with what you are working on, you will not be as productive. If your mind is on something else, you will not get anything done. You will just be fingering along, bowing or blowing into your instrument with the end result being that you are unhappy. It is a lose-lose situation.
Of course you need to practice to get better, but you shouldn’t have to force yourself to do it. You should practice and study music because it is what you want to do, because nothing else would come as close to satisfying you as music. If it is a struggle to practice everyday, music is probably not for you. Keep playing your instrument, but if you major in music in college, you will have to play everyday for a decent amount of time. Are you up for that?
As a flute performance major, I usually don’t have a problem practicing. I always have some sort of goal (or a few) that I want to accomplish that day. Goals help. Making a to do list or a schedule can help. I have a weekly practice log that I use to track my practice, which I may offer in the future if there is enough interest. I have tried using an app to log my practicing, but it logged time, and I just felt really bad about not reaching my goal. When I got close, I would “practice” just about anything to reach my goal. I would just go through the motions, not really thinking about the results. Don’t be like that.
Ever since I dropped the app, my practice productivity has improved. I now think about what needs to get done during a particular week, day, or practice session. If that goal only takes 30 minutes, that’s great. If it takes two hours, then so be it. If I am warming up for a lesson and still haven’t mastered that week’s etude, that would be a good goal for that session. If I have a rehearsal with an accompanist coming up, I would make it a goal to polish the piece that I would soon be rehearsing. But having goals does not always make it easy to practice. Maybe I am having a bad tone day and nothing seems to help. I don’t want to get in the bad habit of a less-than-stellar tone. I will put my flute away and come back to it later.
I think it is normal to have days where you just don’t want to practice, as long as the days you are excited about it outweigh the days where you dread practicing. If the opposite is true, you might want to consider majoring in something other than music. You can still play in an ensemble or two, but when your grade depends on it, practicing is not something that you can just throw to the wayside on a regular basis.
I am also working on a post about how to make the most of your practice and how to motivate yourself to do it. Check back soon or follow me on social media so that you will always know when I publish new stuff!
Thanks for reading!