Part of productive practicing is working with yourself. You have to practice when you practice best.
That way, you won’t waste time or energy. And you can still reach all of the same goals you set for yourself.
Here’s what you need to know if you want to up your practicing game
We all work a little differently, and so it makes sense that we all practice a little differently. While no two people practice the exact same, there are a few things that you should pay attention to in order to practice best.
Of course, some factors can be hard to get around. If you live in an apartment, you have to abide their noise policy. Living in a dorm is similar to that.
However, knowing what can help you practice the best is a good first step.
The first, and most obvious, thing to consider is when you practice well. Do you work well in the morning or are you better at night?
If there’s no specific time of day that works best, consider when works best for your schedule.
Very few of us have the luxury of practicing when we can practice productively. However, you can avoid the times where practicing will do more harm than good.
Next, you want to consider where you plan to practice. If you’re in music school, you probably have access to practice rooms. However, you still may want to practice at home.
Depending on your home life, you may or may not have a dedicated space to practice. When I lived at home with my parents, I practiced in a corner in my bedroom.
Now that I live on my own, I still practice in a corner. The only difference is that I’m in my living room.
You may not even have a dedicated corner. If that’s the case, you’ll also have to consider your practice schedule. That way, you can plan ahead and have a space to practice for when you have the time.
I won’t get too much into this, but you also want to think about what you need to practice. It may sound obvious, but you shouldn’t practice just to practice.
Make a plan of attack. Figure out what tone or technique exercises you need to do. Go through your current repertoire and decide on what needs the most work.
Knowing what you need to practice will keep you from wasting time. That way, you can take full advantage of your practice time, even if you don’t have much of it.
Finally, you want to consider how long you will practice. I’ve gone through phases. Sometimes, I practice the best in short bursts of 20 to 30 minutes. Other times, I feel like I practice the best when I power through for over an hour.
You have to figure out what works, and change something if it stops working.
Of course, your schedule could dictate how long you can practice. When I worked full time as a bank teller, I had 30 minutes to an hour to practice before work. I couldn’t practice again until the evening.
So figure out if you practice better in bursts or longer sessions, and do what works for you.
You can use a time tracking method like the Pomodoro Technique to help you manage your time.
How to Practice Best
Aside from those considerations, I have a few tips you can use to practice your best. Even if you can’t practice when or where it’s ideal, you can use these tips to improve your practicing.
If possible, try and practice when you’re most alert and focused. That might be first thing in the morning, or it may be later in the evening.
Now, if your schedule doesn’t allow you to practice when you’re most productive, find another time of day when you’re at least somewhat productive.
It could be on your lunch break or just before dinner. But if your most productive hour isn’t available, go for second most, etc.
Away from bed
As someone who used to practice inches from their bed, I can tell you practicing in your bedroom isn’t the best place. I would often sit or lay on my bed during practice breaks.
Those breaks could easily last for over an hour. Sometimes, they would even turn into full on naps.
Of course, I didn’t have any other options. All of the bedrooms were occupied, and none of the common areas had much space to set up. So since I had the space in my room, I used it.
However, if you have a spare room or office, use it. It will be much more difficult to put your instrument away and take a nap.
Tone, technique, scales, oh my!
Now, I can’t tell you what you need to practice. I don’t know your playing abilities or your goals. But in general, you need to practice the fundamentals for your instrument.
For flute players, that includes tone development, technical exercises, and scales. If you’re working on something specific, make sure to include that.
For example, as a music major, you often have to play a scales test. If that’s coming up, be sure to rotate through your scales regularly.
Maybe vibrato is one of your weaker areas. In that case, work on vibrato each day.
If you don’t know what to work on, consult a local private teacher. They can listen to your playing and assess what needs work based on your current level and future goals.
Most of us have to do more than just practice each day. You might have classes, a job, a family, or all three. That’s why good time management is critical.
If you know you need to hit a certain amount of things in one practice session, don’t waste time on that first thing.
Know when to move on. Because you can’t practice your best if you waste your practice time.
Always Practice Best
I’ve shared what you need to consider when practicing and some tips for how to practice best. But there’s a bit more to it.
If you want to always practice best, you need to know when it’s okay to put your instrument back in the case.
When you’re sick
If you’re feeling ill, the last thing you should do is practice your instrument. Instead, you need to rest, drink water, and give your body time to get better.
Now, sometimes you do have to power through and practice at less than 100 percent. I’ve had to perform with a cold or fever multiple times. But when that happens, only do what you need to.
It can be tempting to maintain your regular routine before a performance. However, overworking yourself can make it harder for you get better.
When you’re bored
This is a tricky one. Of course, you need to practice enough so that you improve. But if you’re mind is elsewhere, practicing might not be productive.
If you’re straight up bored with practicing, first switch to something else. Revisit an old piece you love playing. Try and figure out the melody to your current favorite pop song.
Do what you can to “trick” yourself into practicing. If nothing works, then take a break and revise your instrument later. Hopefully, you will then be able to practice best.
When you just can’t
There are other times when you won’t be able to practice best. If you can’t practice because you’re on vacation or you need to focus on school or work, that’s okay.
You shouldn’t be ashamed of having other things going on. Just be ready to return to practicing when the vacation or crunch time is over.
How do you practice best? Leave your thoughts on practicing in the comments!