photo of violinist practicing“We first make our habits and then our habits make us.”
–John Dryden, poet
The Musician’s Way, p. 20

When you practice, are you consistently focused and productive?

If not, the reason may be due to chronic habits that undermine your attention and creativity.

Here are 7 ways to replace unwanted practice habits with those that foster deeper learning and higher creativity.

Seven Ways to Upgrade Your Practice Habits

1. Reinforce Positive Thoughts and Actions

To acquire effective habits, we have to cease repeating unwanted actions and steadfastly employ desirable ones.

A classic example would be when we want to undo habits of excess physical tension: we need to remind ourselves to stop forcing and, at the same time, take pleasure in releasing. Similarly, we nurture our creativity when we cultivate positive habits of thought.

Overall, we need to practice joyfully yet deliberately, emphasizing habits of excellence.

2. Work On Accessible Material

Choosing accessible material permits us to learn music quickly while allowing for the mental space we need to be spontaneous, monitor ourselves, and improve essential skills.

Conversely, overly difficult music floods our capacity, making it impossible for us to be creative and evaluate how we’re doing.The Musician's Way book cover

3. Set Specific Practice Goals

When we identify small goals and attain them one after another, we boost our productivity and fuel our motivation.

The guidelines in The Musician’s Way equip us to pinpoint and accomplish short and long-term goals.

4. Employ a Deep Learning Process

Given that our brains and bodies imprint, it’s crucial that we’re organized, accurate, and expressive from the start of the learning process. Conversely, if we practice haphazardly and ingrain wrong notes and rhythms, then we’re burdened with undoing faulty habits.

The Musician’s Way spells out deep practice methods that empower performers to be both precise and artistic.

5. Alter Your Practice Environment

We can support fresh habits by adjusting our practice spaces, even if we merely point a chair and music stand in a new direction or modify practice room lighting or decor.

6. Keep to a Schedule

Consistent practice sessions are far more productive than scattershot ones.

Moreover, to stay optimally focused and imaginative, we do well to work in 20-25 minute episodes with breaks in between. Ideally, we’d practice multiple times per day.

It also helps to mentally review our objectives before we sleep and then act on them soon after we rise.

7. Enlist a Teacher

Like athletes, we musicians benefit from the feedback of coaches.

But beyond mere advice, skilled teachers help us stay motivated and, over time, achieve our dreams.

See Part I of The Musician’s Way for comprehensive practice tips and guidelines.

Related posts
Assessing Your Practice Habits
Beautiful Repetition
Better than Patience
A Different Kind of Slow Practice
Optimizing Practice Time

© 2012 Gerald Klickstein
Photo © VILevi, licensed from Shutterstock.com