How do you stay motivated to practise when everyone around you is relaxing, going out and having fun? Read this article for some tips to keep you motivated during the holiday season.
It’s almost that time of year again when we can finally stop work and RELAX!
If you’re on this side of the globe (Southern Hemisphere), you can finally spend the day at the beach, have “barbies” (barbecues) with friends or escape the heat in an air-conditioned shopping centre.
Or you can go skiing, have snow fights and read around the fireplace if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere!
But what about piano practice? Can’t you just take a break and resume when the holidays end?
You could but unfortunately, if you do that, you will inevitably regress, your fingers will get rusty and your brain will become sluggish…
Ideally, you want to keep your mind and fingers active, even for 10 minutes a day, but how do you even bring yourself to the piano?
In this article, I’m going to share some ideas you can implement to help you stay motivated to practise during the holiday season.
I know that the word “routine” is not particularly inspiring but try to maintain a practice routine X times a week on the same days of the week and around the same time.
Try to schedule your practice in the morning so that you have the rest of the day to relax and do other things. If you need to, think of the outing as a reward for having practised in the morning.
If you can, try to plan your activities around your piano practice rather than the other way round. If you tell yourself that you will practise when you have time, you probably won’t get to it!
Keep a practice diary
A practice diary can be a great way to keep track of your progress as well as to write down the pieces you want to learn, the pieces you’ve already learned, the pieces you want to memorise, etc. It’s also a useful way to reflect on your practice and jot down notes on how the practice session went, what you could do better next time and any revelations you had in your practice.
If you’re not much of a diary person, you could post about your piano progress on Instagram so you have recordings over time and followers can encourage and spur you on.
Play with friends
Get together with friends and play music together. You can laugh at your own mistakes and have fun.
Have a practice buddy
You could find a practice buddy amongst your friends and organise a day where you play one or two pieces for one another. Setting a date will give you the motivation to practise.
Find new repertoire
The holidays give you plenty of time to look for new repertoire so go ahead and seize the opportunity! Go on IMSLP and browse through the large collection of pieces, look through the pieces on the Free Piano Sheet Music page or go to book fairs and find some piano collections.
While it’s tempting to stay up late and sleep in, eat whenever and whatever you feel like, drink and binge watch Netflix, try to eat well at reasonable hours and try to get enough sleep. Keep doing the things that make you energised because you’ll find it hard to stay motivated to practise if you feel tired and lack energy.
Work on your weaknesses
Use this extra time to work on your weaknesses. Maybe you’ve always had trouble playing octaves or trills. Or maybe you’d like to work on your scales or improve your sight-reading. Whatever it is, now is the perfect time to work on these areas.
Reorganise your practice space
Take some time to tidy up your practice space by sorting through your books, rearranging your sheet music, putting sheet music in folders, etc. Look after your piano and have it tuned if necessary because you’ll enjoy playing a lot more if your instrument is in tune.
Also, make sure your seat is comfortable, and that you have good lighting. The more practical, inviting and organised your practice space is, the more likely you will come to the piano to practise.
Aim to practise several times a week
With outings, last-minute invites and family gatherings, it’s sometimes hard to keep a regular practice schedule but aim to practise several times a week (pick a reasonable number), even if it’s just 5-10 minutes. The idea is to go to the piano on a regular basis and make it a habit because the more days you skip, the harder it will be to return to the practice room.
Do the things that inspire you. Listen to recordings of your favourite artists or composers, watch Youtube videos or online masterclasses, attend concerts. or take a walk in nature, read poems, go to an art gallery. Anything to leave you feeling inspired.
Be kind to yourself
There will be days when you just don’t feel like practising or when there’s too much going on and you won’t practise. But that’s okay. Be kind to yourself. There’s no need to beat yourself up for that. Just make sure that you do return to the practice room the following day or as soon as possible.
Do some mental practice
Mental practice, which a lot of top athletes and musicians do, involves rehearsing mentally and imagining yourself playing the notes with the right sound and the right fingering. It can be an excellent way of memorising music or practising note-reading.
Mental practice can be as beneficial as normal practice so if you’re travelling, take your sheet music with you and when you find some quiet time to yourself, do some mental practice.
Mix things up
If you feel unmotivated to practise, it could be that you need to mix things up. You don’t have to practise the same pieces the same way each day. Try other pieces or other ways of practising a passage. If you get stuck on a passage, be imaginative and think of new ways to practise it. You might have an “aha!” moment which will boost your motivation.
If you lack the motivation to practise, try some of the things I’ve suggested in this article.
If you still lack motivation, it could be that you need to shift your mindset. Avoid thinking of practice as work – think of it as a fun way to make progress and you won’t ever want to leave the house!
What are some things you do to stay motivated in the practice room? Share them in the comments below.