Practice does not have to suck. Shift your mindset. Give yourself permission to enjoy it. What can you change so that it’s fun? What aspects of the practice do you already enjoy? Try to cultivate those moments and bring it that joy to the aspects you enjoy less.
Enjoy the process of practicing music
Enjoy the feeling of Just Practicing Movement.
Enjoy getting a good sound on a single note. Enjoy making it through a whole song for the first time even though it’s not perfect.
See the challenges as fun instead of cause for despair. How is this like a game? Break down the challenges into manageable chunks. This is the Small Steps, Small Wins approach.
My Mom never enjoyed practicing the cello. For her practice was just a means to the end of accomplishing something on the instrument. As a result, she slowly stopped playing because she was having zero fun.
Having fun and enjoying practice doesn’t mean that you just goof off the whole time. It involves a mindset shift in which you see the daily work as a game or challenge.
Enjoy the journey of improvement as you practice music
There’s joy in making a nice sound, or in playing music with others. But there’s also joy in the daily process of practicing and seeing small improvements. Every time you improve a little thing, allow yourself to feel good about what you’re doing.
Track your progress using a Music Journal and Recording. Reflecting on how far you’ve come will help you to appreciate where you’re at. And it will give you faith and confidence that you can learn newer and more challenging things.
In this way you play a long-term game. In the short run it may not seem like you accomplish much each day. But these small gains compound into noticeable and satisfying progress over longer time periods. 📈
On a side note, this fiddlosophy is something I need to put into practice in my personal life. I’ve entered the “sandwich years” in which you have to care for children as well as elderly parents. I don’t feel up to the task. But knowing that I’ve overcome other difficulties and challenges gives me more confidence that I can overcome this. It helps me to move behind the emotional reasoning that says “This is way too much for you to handle,” to “I’ll figure this out somehow.”
Balance Practice and Play
Find the balance between Deliberate Practice and Play. Deliberate practice leads to measurable progress. You’ll feel joy as you make progress.
You’ll feel a different kind of joy from just playing with music. Set aside a little time each session to wander and mess around. This helps you discover new things to learn and different ways to practice.
Sincere music students often get too serious. They’re too hard on themselves. By allowing for play, you give yourself to let go of that seriousness for a bit and goof off 🤪.
Know why you practice music
This will keep you consistent and help you to overcome negative emotions. Some reasons why people practice:
- So they can play with others.
- Self-improvement and personal growth.
- It’s fun.
- They want to model a growth mindset for their kids.
- They want to keep their brain sharp as they age.
Do Your Best, Accept The Rest
You can’t instantly become Jimi Hendrix on your instrument.
But ask yourself, “What can I control? How can I alter the way I practice so that it’s rewarding and fun?”
Through the practice of Chunking, you can take Small Steps and have Small Wins each time you practice.
Allow for creativity. You can practice a given thing in many different ways.
Set yourself up for success by establishing a good practice ritual. For most folks, this is something they can control. Do it at the same time in the same place. Create a nice space that invites you to practice. Light a candle or ring a bell to begin the practice. All these actions help to signal to your brain and body that music is about to happen.
Take on the identity of a musician when you practice music
Being a musician doesn’t mean you’re famous or make a lot of money doing it. The simplest definition of “musician” is a person who consistently plays music in their daily life.
Make practicing a part of your identity. Become the kind of person who plays every day. Start with just two minutes a day. This establishes the outline in your body and schedule. Gradually lengthen the time you practice. It might just happen naturally if you start to enjoy it.
Get creative with how you work practice into your day. Maybe you have two short sessions. Maybe you practice daily listening to songs you’re learning along with recordings of yourself from the last session.
I put the word conclusion in scare quotes because practice never ends. It’s an infinite game that slowly starts to permeate your life. If you continue to play (and I hope you do!) you’ll continue to keep learning for the rest of your life. I’ve been doing this for 40+ years and I’m still learning major things.
Enjoyable practice is productive practice. The activity becomes its own reward. If you can enjoy your practice today, you’ll do it again tomorrow.
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