The Amazing Practice Magnifier

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Wouldn’t it be great if you could make your practice more productive, more rewarding and more enjoyable? If you could magnify the results you got each time you practice?

It’s possible – with focus.

Just like a magnifying glass can focus the sun’s rays, you can focus your energies in your practice to get the kind of results you want.

This blog post is the first in a series of case studies that will show you how to create more focus – and more harp happiness – in your practice every day. The scenarios in these case studies are not related to particular harp students. They are composite reflections of problems common to many students. The names used are for illustration purposes only.

Case Study #1: Agatha

Agatha is a talented and dedicated student. She has solo music that she is learning and a few harp ensemble programs in the works. She is also a very busy woman with a full family schedule plus her volunteering and her crafts.

Agatha sets a practice schedule for herself but her practice is often interrupted with phone calls or texts from her family, friends or neighbors. Sometimes she just finds it hard to practice because her thoughts wander to what’s next in her day or things to add to her grocery list.  She finds it frustrating not to be able to keep her mind on what she is trying to learn. What can Agatha do to make her practice laser-focused instead of so scattered?

First, she can turn her phone off! Not just to” silent” or to “vibrate,” but all the way off.

Next, for those random thoughts like additions to the grocery list that she will want to remember later, Agatha can keep a notepad next to her music stand so she can jot down the ideas as they occur. This will keep the interruptions to a minimum. Remember that every time you are distracted from a task, it can take as long as 18 minutes to regain your previous level of focus.

Agatha loves her lists – checklists and To Do lists of all sorts. So she may enjoy using a Practice To Do List. This list will have no more than three tasks for each hour of practice she plans to do. Each task must be clearly defined with a crystal clear objective, so she knows exactly what she wants to accomplish, and how long she plans to spend at each task. This list will keep her moving and focused and prevent wasted time.

Agatha may also find it helpful to plan several shorter practice periods instead of one longer stretch of time. This tactic can relieve some of the pressure to stay focused, and at the same time, the shorter time frame can provide more motivation to get things done.

A couple more quick tips, Agatha – starting your practice with your most interesting work can help you focus faster. And never leave your practice session for the day without leaving yourself a note on your music stand of what you would like to work on the next day.

Next time, Betty Lou has plenty of practice time and plenty of music to practice, but as soon as she sits down at the harp, she has no idea where to start or what to do…


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  • Diane Renee Macdonell

    Thank you. I am going to apply this information.


  • winniferd

    How interesting and very motivating. I can’t wait for more.
    Thank you — no need to reply. Your great!


  • Annie Fortnum

    Good ideas. My life is a lot like hers and I will hope to try these ideas in my own practice. I too am an aging person with much busy-ness in my life. Thank you.


    • LornaOta

      Thank you, Anne. I actually found my FB key! I hear some of my harp teacher’s recommendations in what you’ve shared, today: Phone off; practice daily harp diligence…a reasonable time span for my lifestyle; study problem areas for better fingering technique (‘clues of patterns’) to make playing smoother; learn music I really enjoy; play for others, etc. I am so privileged to have my wonderful harp teacher and you to bolster my enthusiasm. My life is full in many other aspects, and the time seems to go by too swiftly. There never seems to be enough quiet study/practice time just for me and my harp(s), but I am inspired to succeed by my mentors. TYVM!


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