Whether you’re in music school, starting a job, or looking for a change, you may have to set a new practice schedule. With more/new responsibilities, you may have to adjust your current schedule.
And that’s perfectly normal. But change can be difficult. Especially if you’re used to the same old routine.
So, let’s look at the what, why, and how of setting a new practice schedule.
Why a New Practice Schedule
At this time of year, many people will probably have to switch to a new practice schedule because of the upcoming semester. If you’re in school, you’ll have a new set of classes and ensembles to work around.
And if you’re out of school but work as a teacher, you’ll also have to prepare for the semester.
A lot of students take the summer off from lessons, so the fall is when even private teachers have to readjust their schedules.
But, maybe you don’t have to switch to a new practice schedule. If that’s the case, should you change up your routine?
The biggest reason for setting a new practice schedule is that school is back in session. Unfortunately, you probably won’t have as much time to practice as you did this summer.
But that’s okay. You’ll have other commitments, from other classes to maybe even a part time job.
Changing your practice schedule because of school is totally normal and expected. It’d be pretty surprising if you can take your exact practice schedule from summer to fall.
And if that’s you, please comment below and tell me how you’re able to do it!
This one is for anyone who just graduated this spring or summer. Now that you’re out of school, you may have more time to practice. At least for now.
While you’re job searching, you may have some extra time to practice. And if you have aspirations of a performance career, or even teaching, take advantage of that time.
Once you have a full schedule, you won’t be able to practice that much, so enjoy it.
And if you’re still in school but find this post near the end of a semester, this is for you, too. Transitioning from the semester to a break can be just as stressful as the reverse.
So you may have to switch to a new practice schedule to cope with the changes.
The 9-5 grind
If you’re one of those musicians who can avoid working a day job, I’m jealous. For many of us, we have to take a day job to pay the bills.
And I’ll be honest. Those 40 hours of work took a toll on my practice schedule.
After a couple of months on the job, I was sick of being tired and having no energy to practice after work. So, I made a new practice schedule that involved getting up a bit earlier so I could be well rested to practice.
If that’s not an option for you, do what you can. Maybe you take your instrument to work and practice on your lunch break. Or perhaps you take a long lunch so you can come home to practice.
Either way, don’t let a day job get in the way of you pursuing your dreams.
Run your biz
Now, if you’re able to escape the 9-5 grind and work for yourself, you’ll also have to make some adjustments. You’re in charge of your time now.
So if you practice best at a certain time, make your new practice schedule with that in mind. And if you live in an apartment, try to practice during the day when most people are out at work or school.
Just be sure you don’t let practicing get in the way of you making a living. Otherwise, you’ll have to take a day job. And you may not want to do that.
Creating Your New Practice Schedule
Whether you’re experiencing a life change or not, you may want or need to create a new practice schedule. Even if you’re simply sick of your current routine, a new practice schedule can keep things interesting.
But you shouldn’t just create a practice plan out of nowhere. You should put some thought into any new schedule.
That way, you can account for things like your productivity, your neighbors, and your otters responsibilities.
The big picture
Before you can create a new practice schedule, you have to consider your priorities. If you’re in school, practice will probably be a bigger priority than if you work full time.
After all, music majors usually have at least one performance to prepare for. On the other hand, working adults may not have a performance or event requiring practice.
So consider your work schedule, school schedule, and anything else that might determine when/how much you practice.
Follow the rules
Next, you want to be a considerate neighbor/roommate/family member. If you live in an apartment, odds are your complex has a quiet hours policy.
Be sure you know what that is because it will dictate when you can and can’t practice.
But even if you can practice at a certain time, that doesn’t mean you should. If you live with family or roommates, consider their schedules.
Yes, even if you live in a house. You don’t want to disturb anyone when they want to sleep or have quiet time.
Once you determine when you can and can’t practice, consider what is practical. Can you practice for multiple hours? Or do you only have an hour or so to practice?
You don’t want to make an unrealistic new practice schedule. If your practice time is limited, make the most of it. You can always do some score study or listen to recordings when you don’t want to bug anyone.
Another part of practical practicing is working when you’re most productive. Once you know when you can practice, look at that schedule and figure out when your most or least productive.
For example, I know that right after eating, I am useless in the practice room. I need about 30 to 60 minutes to relax before I pick up my flute.
But you may not need that time. Maybe you work best right after you eat. In that case, schedule your practice sessions after meals. Just be sure to brush your teeth first.
How to Adjust to a New Practice Schedule
Once you create a new practice schedule, it’s time to implement it. You may have to switch to the new practice schedule slowly.
Or perhaps, you can switch almost immediately. Just be sure you do what works for you, otherwise, the schedule probably won’t last.
It takes time
Whether you can switch to a new practice schedule within a day or weeks, it can take time to fully adjust. After all, you may be practicing at a time that you’re not used to.
And if you’re in school, you may be practicing in a new environment.
So if something goes wrong on the first day or week, don’t call it quits. You may just need more time to get used to the new routine.
However, don’t be afraid to change what really doesn’t work.
Consider your goals
When adjusting to a new practice schedule, remember why you decided to change your schedule. Obviously, students may have no choice.
But even still, you probably have juries or concerts to prepare for. You may even have auditions to work on or maybe even a recital.
When the going gets tough, remind yourself why you practice and what your goals are. That might be enough to help you power through a rough practice session.
Consistency is key
Anything new will be difficult at first. The important thing is being consistent with whatever you do. If that means waking up early each day, do it.
Or maybe that means eating an early lunch so you can practice for a lesson.
Whatever it is, try your best not to slack off. The more you follow your routine, the easier it will be. And the faster it will become ingrained in your daily schedule.
Do you have to switch to a new practice schedule soon? How will you make the switch? Let me know in the comments!
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