Making Progress in a Pandemic

Time has no meaning.  Days flow amorphously into weeks, which seamlessly melt into months. We’ve paused performances and rehearsals have disappeared indefinitely.  

With so little to prepare for, it can be difficult to muster the motivation and our practice sessions can begin to feel purposeless.

Here are some suggestions to bring a sense of purpose and progress back into the practice room and keep you improving through the lean months.

Start a project
Is there a song cycle or a set of etudes you’ve always wanted to master?  Now’s the time.  Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to explore a particular composer in depth.  Rather than getting things performance-ready, focus on depth of knowledge.  A lack of domain knowledge is one of the reasons why some musicians can practice for hours every day and struggle to make progress.  A specific project is a great way to build up your domain knowledge.

Commit to a publishing schedule
Whether it’s daily or weekly, commit to share your progress regularly.  You can share with a practice partner, a small group, on social media, on a Youtube channel, or wherever.  The deadline creates tension, which inspires progress.  The practice of sharing will help keep your standards high.

Keep a journal
Regular users of The Practice Habit know how valuable it is to keep track of what you’ve worked on.  It helps you identify recurring problems, problem solve, and strategize.  It also helps you see your progress over time.  That’s even more important now, when the days all seem to run together.  You don’t have to use our journal to see how much it can help—just try writing down what you’re working on for a week on a piece of paper.  At the end of the week, look back at what you wrote down and ask yourself “did it get better?”  Regardless of the answer, notice what happens to your practice session.

This pandemic may have scrambled your routines and made self-discipline more difficult than ever, but with a few tweaks to the way you approach your practice, you can come out of this better than ever.

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