Ideas, Strategies, and Motivation for Music Practice
Although learning music has the ability to enrich the mind, build physical and cognitive skills, and enhance each and every one of our lives in numerous ways, it can be hard to find the motivation to practice on a regular basis. Now, in the midst of an ongoing pandemic and with limited gig opportunities, the struggle is more difficult than ever before. Here are suggested ways to practice consistently and effectively, while trying to work through the difficulties of finding motivation to stay performance ready.
How to Encourage Children to Practice Music
It’s difficult to motivate children and young people to be diligent about practicing music when they view it as a daily chore to slog through. Some tips for improving their practice experience and motivating them include:
- If your child dreads their music homework, try having them do it at a different time of day when they may feel more alert and focused
- Reward your child for practicing or make a game out of aspects of practice; find motivation for them to gain or win something from each session
- Allow your child time to play what they want, such as a song by their favorite artist or even TV show themes
How to Practice an Instrument Effectively
Merely going through the motions of practicing isn’t fun, and it doesn’t do much to improve musical skills. Rather than having your child phone it in for a set amount of time, teach them to keep intention in mind with these strategies:
- Have a specific goal for each session (other than filling time) to accomplish, such as playing a certain passage of music accurately and with ease
- Plan out what will be covered in the practice session in order to accomplish the goal
- Practice in an ideal environment: a private, quiet place with minimal distractions
- Break up the practice routine: practice a variety of passages and techniques in differing ways in order to challenge the body and brain
Finding the Motivation to Practice
- Set small goals. You’ll find that the task of accomplishing small goals – such as memorizing one passage of a piece instead of the entire piece – is far less daunting than trying to get it all done at once. And, those smaller goals will get you closer to your larger goal over time!
- Find ways to make your practice feel new or exciting. Part of what can make practicing feel unengaging is the familiar routine of it all. Practicing in a new environment, trying a new genre, or perhaps practicing with friends can make things feel fresh and more exciting.
- Be open about your struggles with others. You’ll find that many other musicians are going through, or have gone through, the exact same thing. Knowing you’re not alone can be hugely validating, and being able to share your experiences together can ease your worries. Plus, you might get some good tips or suggestions from others that you chat with!
- Don’t force it. If you push yourself too hard, the likelihood of experiencing burnout is even higher, and you will come to associate those negative emotions with practice more frequently over time. It’s okay to take a break if you need to.
Music education and practice provides far more than just the ability to play an instrument or appreciate the fine arts – it’s a lifelong journey which has an impact on all areas of our lives. While the journey might ebb and flow, don’t be discouraged by the low points along the way. We hope that you’ll remember these whenever you may be struggling with the motivation and inspiration you need to continue playing!
If you’re a Boston resident interested in reaping the benefits of music education for yourself or your child, visit the Community Music Center of Boston (CMCB) and consider enrolling in a music class today. You can also support the nonprofit organization so that all local residents can enjoy these benefits.