By Robert Callus
Do you want to put more time into practicing your instrument, but can’t seem to find it anywhere?
Nearly every musician faces this problem – there are so many things to learn!
Yet, many great musicians didn’t have the luxury of time either.
Since, no one is born with the ability to play an instrument, let alone to master it, they must have found ways to make it.
The following tips will help you find more time to practice your instrument without having to give up on anything that matters.
Because that’s what “making time” is. Adding time to do what you want to do without having to sacrifice it from something else that has value for you.
- Make practicing fun
This is the single most important thing when it comes to increasing the time you spend practicing.
The reason why advanced musicians always seem to find the time to practice, even if they have jobs, kids and other commitments, is that their practice time is part of their recreation time.
There are many things you can do to make practicing more fun such as measuring your progress, recording yourself and playing with others.
However, the single most important thing to make practice more enjoyable is to always know what you want to achieve and above all, why you want to achieve it.
There was a reason why you chose your instrument and started learning it.
Even if you’re struggling at the moment, if you’ve reached a plateau and feel that for some time you haven’t improved at all, if you keep in mind the reasons why you’re doing this, you will soldier on.
Which is what matters. We all have plateaus, they’re part of the learning process.
But only the ones who don’t get discouraged and carry on, are the ones who overcome them and actually master an instrument.
- 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle, states that 80% of your effort produces only 20% of the result you desire, while another 20% is actually accomplishing 80% of what you want to accomplish.
The way to apply the Pareto principle is to identify what the minority that is achieving most results is, and do more of it. Or else, see what’s making it more effective than others and emulate what you’re doing in that area to the less productive areas of your life.
If you persist in applying the Pareto rule you will not only have more time to practice your instrument, but you’ll also make your practicing more efficient and effective.
- 5 minutes to greatness
Did you ever notice that most people who smoke, no matter how busy they are, always seem to find those extra “5 minute breaks” to smoke a cigarette?
Even if he has deadlines, and smoking is not permitted in the whole building, a regular smoker will, once in a while, run to the first place where smoking is allowed and have his fix.
Imagine if you manage to fall in love with practicing so much that you will want to fit it in every little extra time you have here and there, like even the busiest smoker manages to do for his cigarettes.
The good news is that those 5 minutes here and there, coupled with longer stretches of practice when these are possible, rather give you lung cancer and drain your wallet, will turn you into a great musician.
And yes, 5 minutes of correct focused practice will achieve a LOT if done regularly.
- Browse less
There are efficient and less efficient ways to use the Internet.
Browsing aimlessly on the Internet is eating away more of most people’s time than they actually think.
If you are, for instance, looking for guitar lessons, you may end up spending more time browsing what lesson you’re going to choose than actually practicing.
One solution to this is being specific in your Internet searches. If you search for “guitar lessons”, you’re going to get the same results whether you’re a beginner, or an intermediate player, or whether you like classical guitar or heavy metal.
This means it will take a lot of time searching through to find what you need.
If, on the other hand, you’re noticing that many of the songs you’re learning involve pull offs, and type in “how to play pull offs correctly on guitar”, you’re most likely going to find what you need on the first attempt.
- Practice away from your instrument
Yep, you can practice in your head, unless you’re doing something else that requires a lot of concentration.
Keep in mind that when learning an instrument, the part of your body that has the hardest job, is your mind.
This means that if you run things like scales, intervals, or rhythmic patterns in your head when you don’t have your guitar on, you will need to spend less time figuring things out or memorizing them when you’re practicing on your instrument.
All that would be left is to get your fingers (or whatever part of your body) to implement what you already know.
Hopefully these five tips will help you increase the time practicing your instrument so that you’ll become a better musician, sooner.
Robert Callus is a guitar teacher, songwriter and music education blogger from Malta. Read more articles about music theory, guitar playing, songwriting and the pursuit of happiness on www.learnguitarmalta.com