We all have dreams and goals, but achieving those dreams and goals is not easy. There are endless traps and distractions. Often the hardest part is just getting started.
Maybe you’re the type that can’t sit down to practice until all your other daily chores are done, leaving you tired and uninspired when it’s finally time to start.
Perhaps that tricky passage or that lengthy piece your teacher wants you to practice seems like too big a nut to crack.
Maybe you have an exciting new project on the horizon – a recital, a composition, a work project – but you can’t see how to get over the first hurdle.
Here are a dozen quick ways to fight inertia and get your personal ball rolling!
Can’t sit down to practice?
- Go for a 15 minute walk. Not longer, not shorter. Fifteen minutes is enough to clear your mind of cobwebs and leave you with new resolution.
- Start with the hardest thing you have to do. Have you ever put off practice because you can’t face one particular piece or passage? Do it first, pat yourself on the back and move on to more enjoyable playing.
- Play something you love first. This puts the carrot before the stick, and is a great way to move your mind into practice mode. Do give yourself a time limit though, or you may find yourself out of time to practice and your work not done!
Work out a difficult passage (other than hands separately, of course!)
- Alternate measures, odd measures then even measures. It’s a peculiar game, but useful for keeping your mind involved, and it really works!
- Work backwards from the end of the passage. If you know the later measures in a passage very well, you will find it easier to play all the way through without getting stuck.
- Work across barlines, measure 1 to measure 2.5, bar 2.5 to bar 3.5, etc. This helps you see the passage as a whole and prevents hesitations between measures.
Begin a new monster piece (think Fauré Impromptu)
- Get a quick synopsis. Try learning the first eight bars, the last eight bars, and the middle page. Eight bars is too much? Try four bars. Not long enough? Try an entire page.
- Learn the last two pages first. I love to read the final sentence of a novel before I start. It’s not a spoiler, just a tease that takes on meaning once I’ve read the whole book. The last two pages of a big piece allow you that exhilaration of the big ending, which makes them a great place to begin.
- Make mini pieces. Look at the structure of the piece and divide it into sections, or mini-pieces. You can learn these one at a time, plus these sections will be helpful later on as well.
Start a new project
- Make a list of action steps to complete the project, and (this is the crucial part!) do the first one before you put your list down.
- Create a deadline. Having a due date, like a lesson, a performance, or a meeting, will ensure that you get moving.
- Act before you are ready. Sometimes committing by taking a more or less public step, forces you to do the background work you keep putting off. Are you forming a group to play weddings? Advertising the group will force you to have your repertoire and press materials together.
What are you waiting for?