There’s no doubt about it, December is a hectic time of year. Combine the holidays with the general end of year craziness, and it can wreak havoc on your practice schedule. This is especially dangerous for musicians, as many college and festival auditions are at the beginning of the year. While it might feel nice now to take some time off, you probably wouldn’t feel so great as your auditions approach.
Here are a few ways you can maintain an effective practice schedule during the end of year crunch time:
- Practice first thing in the morning. For me, there is nothing worse than the nagging feeling of having to practice hanging over you all day. I avoid this by practicing first thing in the morning (ok, after I’ve had a few coffees) so I can enjoy the rest of my day with a clear conscious.
- Schedule practice time in your calendar. This is a popular trick to committing to workout routines, and it also works well for practicing. Block off time each day during the holidays for practice, and treat this commitment with the same urgency as work, classes, and any of your other obligations.
- Decide your days off in advance. December is easily the most luxurious month of the year – it’s easy to treat yo’ self with the endless abundance of food, holiday parties, and festive gatherings. This lenient mindset can easily work its way into the practice room if you’re not careful, so make sure to schedule your practice breaks early in advance so you don’t make impromptu practice decisions (which might or might not be directly related to the amount of holiday cookies you just ate).
- Make your family and friends aware of your practice priorities. Family and friends are wonderful, but they can unintentionally derail your practice schedule if you don’t set some ground rules in advance. (“Just one more game of Settlers of Catan – you can practice later!”) Let everyone know in advance when you’ll be practicing, so you can enjoy some guilt-free family/friend time after you’re done.
- Recruit a practice buddy to stay accountable. When you’re home for the holidays, stay motivated and accountable by keeping in touch with a practice buddy. This is easier than ever with the power of social media – just make sure you choose your practice buddy wisely so you both don’t fall off the practice bandwagon. (Pun definitely intended.)
- Reward yourself. Nothing boosts motivation like rewards! Make a deal with yourself that if you stick with your practice schedule, you’ll reward yourself by bingeing Netflix, taking time off after your auditions, buying a new instrument accessory, or whatever inspires you to practice during the holidays.
Balancing life and practice can be tricky, so I hope these tips help you this holiday season. (Sidenote: If you’re looking for some festive ways to add some holiday cheer to your practice routine, here are a few of my suggestions.)
Thanks to my awesome mom for this article suggestion! She works with a middle school band and experiences firsthand the detrimental effects the holidays can have on students’ practice routines.
As always, let me know if you have any ideas for future articles and I’ll be sure to give you a shout-out!
Happy holidays, and happy practicing!