Musicians sign a lifetime contract to commit to practicing consistently. Oftentimes, the hardest part is simply opening the case and committing to practicing – which is why you should embrace the power of rituals to increase motivation.
Although you might not be able to practice at the same time or in the same place every day, you can build tiny rituals that signal to your brain it’s time to switch to practice mode. Scientific studies have proven that rituals can provide us with a sense of control and can even improve confidence – both of which are beneficial for a productive practice session.
Here are a few suggestions to build rituals around your daily practice routine:
- Find things which motivate you to practice. I do enjoy practicing, but it can be hard to tear yourself away from the siren call of YouTube, Netflix, or a million other fun things to do instead. I transition to my practice mindset by making a cup of tea or coffee (don’t @ me for drinking these while I practice!). Find something to use as a cue to switch gears. You can try light stretching, drinking water out of your favorite cup, eating a favorite snack (just make sure to brush your teeth before playing!), or even wearing cozy socks – whatever gets you in your practicing mindset!
- Take breaks. To avoid injuries, I take a 15-minute break every hour. While I’m stretching, I enjoy watching YouTube videos (especially if they’re around 15 minutes so I’m not tempted to rest too little or too long). Give yourself a mini-reward each break to maintain motivation.
- Embrace routine. There is no exact formula for creating a balanced practice routine (although I’ve shared my formula in my guide to the musician’s practice pyramid). Prioritize consistency in your practice routine, but be open to smaller changes. For example, around 50% of my practicing is technique and fundamental exercises. This remains fairly constant, but I do change up the books and exercises I use on a daily or weekly basis so I don’t get bored. If you haven’t created a general practice plan, now’s the time to make one that aligns with both your schedule and goals!
- Reward yourself. While I’m putting my clarinet away, I love listening to music. Create small rituals to reward yourself for a successful practice session. Some musicians use stickers, planners, or other ways to track their practicing and reward themselves after so many practice sessions. At the very least, consider keeping a practice journal to note your goals and progress so you can see how much you’ve improved over time!
What rituals do you use before, during, or after your practice sessions to increase motivation and activity?