Practice Challenge Insights

As a way to get people into the good habit of daily fiddle practice, I recently led the Fall Practice Challenge 2017, which I also participated in. There was a total of 105 “practicipants”. Pretty cool! I surveyed the folks who took part to better understand how it went and how it could be improved.

The overwhelming response: they enjoyed the experience and felt that taking the challenge improved their playing as well as their motivation to practice. Because of the good response, I want to do it again in the spring.

I’m going to share some of the results of the survey below. It’s interesting and it gives insight into how practice and motivation work.

Everyone felt their playing improved.

Simply put, the way to learn an instrument is to Play Every Day. If you can find a way to that, everything else follows: good sound, good practice habits and lots of fun. If you can establish this good habit, then you will naturally learn how to improve the quality of your fiddle practice.

Over 90% of the practicipants felt more motivated than usual during the challenge.

Some comments the practicipants made about this question of motivation:

“More than a little [motivated]; I guess I like a challenge.”

“Because I had people there supporting my practice, I told everyone on my Facebook and posted a video of the first and last days of practicing.”

“Marking X the calendar was really very satisfying.”

“I felt I had a good plan with enough options for variations on routine things to keep me interested. Jason’s technique videos also helped inspire me to vary practice methods.”

“I wanted to show how practice really DOES work to new fiddlers”

As for me, there were days where I felt a little resistance to practicing because I had so much work to do. But I really didn’t want to miss a day, especially since I got all these other people to do it! Once I started to play, the resistance was gone. It was in the thinking about practicing beforehand that I felt resistance.

80% of the practicipants played at least eleven out of fourteen days.

This is really good. In hindsight, I would have asked “how much more than usual did you practice”. But there were a few comments that indicated that people did practice more than usual. I played 13.5 days out 14 (on October 7th I only played a little, so I gave myself half an X).

What could be improved

Here were some suggestions for how the challenge could be improved. I’m going to do my best to incorporate all these ideas into the next challenge.

  • Rewards: I know playing well is it’s own reward but rewards are fun!
    • What fun rewards could there be?
    • Maybe you can create your own reward before you start and then give it to yourself if you reach your goal?
  • It would be great if you could interact with the other practicipants.
    • My question: through the forum?
  • Continue to use short daily videos on YouTube, wherein challenge participants can share their own daily experiences of various practice methods in comments, if they choose to do so. Enriching the contacts that reinforce that we are all in the same boat together is what I’m suggesting. Share the struggles and the joy. (two similar answers)
    • My comment: I did a practice webinar on the first day, but didn’t continue after that. I’ll do more of these next time.
  • Showcase videos or see a hashtag for twitter and see everyone’s videos to motivate ourselves.
    • How many of you are involved with twitter? I have a ton of work at the moment, but I would be more active on Twitter if people wanted that.
    • Where is the best place for online students to share videos?
  • I think that I need to set more realistic goals at the start so that I don’t try to over achieve.
    • This is a good insight. I will try to emphasize this in the next challenge.
  • Send ideas on how to practice for a hootenanny.
    • Good idea for a lesson.
  • I think maybe have it quarterly as a boost to get back on track. Here’s a similar comment: More frequently. Make a practice challenge each month or so. It really helps my motivation to get emails encouraging and inspiring me to play.
    • I like the enthusiasm! But let’s start with twice a year!
  • Ask for reflection by each participant at the end of each practice session. I need to know I’m a part of a group.
    • Another nice idea. Let me know if you think of a good way to collect these reflections.

A common theme seems to be that people want more involvement with other practicipants. For the next one I’ll set up a special forum post for the challenge. I also will look for the best way for folks to share videos of themselves fiddling.

OK, thanks for taking part. Let’s do it again in March or April…

Leave a Reply

4 responses to “Practice Challenge Insights

  1. Dear Jason, that is fab well done setting the challenge for everyone. I am sorry that I missed it. (I didn’t see it)
    I am a member of an online forum (a professional body) where the hosts award “prizes” to its members by awarding “stickers” and these accumulate and build up over time into a certificate (I think 10 stickers where you have contributed to a discussion on a topic give you a certificate). Once you have a certificate it is automatically pinned as a background to your photo, so whenever you chat or create posts on the forum other people can see the latest “certificate” you have been awarded. It is fun!

    I’m on day 3 of the 1000 hours practice on 2 bars of music (5 mins at a time for each bar) – which actually is having the effect of getting me to practice every day as well. Once I have started on those bars I always find myself wanting to carry on with some other bits. I keep my violin out of its box as much as I can as it is much more conducive to picking it up when its just sitting there. (only use the box when travelling with it).

    I’m not active on twitter although I do have an account.

    Would your forum be able to host a chat page for your members and a place they can post vids – perhaps even for a short time ? I am not very tech savvy I’m afraid. I use FB and that is where I usually pick up your posts, which I really love. I think you are amazing, thank you very much for being so motivating and making your knowledge and experience available to us all.