I Don’t Feel Like It
We all go through times when the last thing we want to do is practice our instruments. I always feel the hardest step is taking the instrument out and actually sitting down to play a few notes. Sometimes it helps if you have a looming deadline to perform. But here are a 7 Practice Motivation Tips to help you feel more inspired to practice and get better no matter what the situation may be.
- Listening to a really good recording of your piece. There is something really exciting about hearing a good recording of a piece you are playing. Already have one? Try finding a new one and compare and contrast. I often would have 3 or 4 recordings of the pieces I was trying to learn so I could pick out things from each one that I liked and try to portray them in my playing
- Just play for 5 minutes. I always tell my students that if you only had 5 minutes to play to spend it playing scales. If you really don’t feel like playing, perhaps if you just played a scale it might inspire you to play a little more and a little more after that. Before you know it, you are warmed up and ready to play a little bit of your music.
- Have a boost of energy. Sometimes a nice cup of coffee (or tea!) before you start is just the pep you need to get going. Or go for a nice walk to feel energized before sitting down. I find that I sometimes don’t want to practice because I’m feeling tired or run down. If I’m feeling cold, I definitely don’t want to practice either. Sometimes putting yourself into the ideal situation will create a good practicing mood.
- Have it all set up. Sometimes having to set up a practice space BEFORE you practice can seem like a lot of effort. If you can afford to have a little corner with your chair, stand and music set up then it will be a lot easier to start. Some people have cello stands where they leave their cellos out. I have mixed feelings about these because it could be dangerous around kids and pets, and the occasional clumsy accident prone adult (me!) but I do hear that more people are apt to practice when the instrument is already out constantly reminding them to “play me!!”
- Schedule it in. Now if you have kids who you are trying to inspire to practice, they NEED routine. It is like any after school activity, the more consistent you are with start and end times the more likely the kid will continue to stick with it. Bribery with treats, prizes etc is really not effective long term. Eventually you won’t have to always remind them to practice. If you are sick of reminding them, you can tell them to stick to it themselves or just stop wasting your money. (In a nice way of course) Because lessons with no practicing is pretty useless in my opinion. If you are older, setting a time in your schedule to practice will really be helpful. Setting aside the time as an appointment will really force you to commit to it a little bit more seriously. Just like exercising, practicing could potentially be a dreaded task, but scheduling it in will definitely at least give you the 5 minutes you need to get started. (see #2)
- Record yourself. Nothing like a good ol recording of yourself to inspire you to practice. I hate listening and seeing myself, but I definitely feel motivated to work out my playing issues when I see myself play. It is also a good meter for keeping track of progress you may be making when learning. Ever heard of #100daysofpractice? It is run on instagram and encourages everyone to practice their instrument for 100 days straight while documenting it on Instagram. It’s pretty neat to see the community there and how many people have committed to it.
- Sight-read new music. Sometimes you don’t want to practice because the music has become stale. This is the time to take out some new music you may want to learn in the future, or other music in other genres. I find it so fun and refreshing to try something different before turning back to my regular music. Plus it is good to practice sight-reading because it comes in handy many times especially when playing gigs. Make a list and keep a running tab of songs, or pieces you would like to learn. I guarantee you’d be inspired to play more if you think of how you can start crossing off those songs. Listening to categories on Spotify or other similar music platforms or radio stations can really help inspire you. Remember no music genre is off limits. You can learn to play other genres such as jazz, soundtracks, and pop songs, not just classical music.
There will be some days that you just feel completely unmotivated to do anything. Take a deep breath and know that you are investing in yourself to become better. You need to think of the benefits of practicing as opposed to the mountain of things you have to do, or somehow need to do more immediately. Just remember even the smallest step of improvement is still a step forward in improvement.