“It’s been over 2 months that I haven’t played; can I still perform the pieces I used to know? How will my voice sound as I didn’t sing for a few weeks?” These are the thoughts that might come across us on this end of summer as we consider getting back to a practice routine. If you have managed to keep practicing the whole summer, congratulations! If you haven’t, no worries. Being an amateur musician, it’s completely normal to slow down on performing music during holidays. As getting back to practice is key to your progress and your musical enjoyment, here are 5 tips to help you rebuild a good routine with your instrument.
1. Make yourself comfortable
Practice sessions have ups and downs. Getting back to practice after a holiday break can lead to surprises, and to us playing not exactly the way we would want to. To ensure smooth transition to a good practice discipline, be sure to make your sessions as comfortable as possible. Put something you like besides your practice routine that might help you think about this time as an enjoyable moment of the day. It can be anything: eating a sweet you like, going for a walk in a place you like as a post-practice reward, making a relative hear what you did during your practice time, making some tea or some coffee. Be creative! Each time you will have to practice, you will remember that some nice thing is coming besides, and it will come to your mind as a good moment instead of a dry constraint. Also make sure the material aspects are settled. Spending too much time looking for your sheet music or for a pencil might be unpleasant, try and have a fixed place to practice with everything available, to have an easy space where you can spend your practice time as natural part of your day.
2. Start small
Don’t start with the hardest pieces, even though you may want to learn them. It is always better to wait for a good routine to be established before we start preparing some challenging piece. The main issue for now is to get your brain to understand he needs regular practice. Then your practice sessions do not have to be long, they just have to be regular and productive. For example, it’s ok if you start practicing 10 minutes every two days at first, as long as you focus on a specific aspect of your score. You might for example focus on one note only and tell yourself: “let’s have a really cool vibrato there”. It might take you 10 full minutes to have the perfect vibrato you’re looking for, and it will give you satisfaction of improvement. On the next 10 minutes you might want to practice a different passage, and your practice sessions will naturally expand thanks to your eagerness to improve.
3. Let perfection aside for a moment
Good music comes from hard work. If you don’t manage to perform perfectly the pieces you used to play, it’s completely normal. One of the most important things in coming back to practice is to consider preparing pieces rather than just playing them. Directly going through a whole piece when you haven’t practice for a long time might lead you not to play less well than you would had expected, and undermine your confidence. To get back smoothly to good practice habits, be aware that your fingers or your voice might be numb at first. Don’t be too demanding during your first practice sessions, and avoid playing fast or particularly hard passages at the final tempo, although that might be tempting. To focus on playing slowly and controlling every detail of the score, Metronaut can help. The catalog features many recordings of leading soloists or orchestras that can adapt to your tempo thanks to AI, and accompany you in the core of your practice.
4. Be mindful
Only one practice session is enough to form a sane work discipline. A 2020 study by neuroscientists at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, shows that focusing mindfully on every sub-task of an activity makes you repeat the same movements naturally the next time you do this activity, and makes you adopt the habits you want more quickly. Then being careful about having a first rigorous and mindful practice session will make you naturally more productive on the following sessions. To get other advice on the way to establish a personal routine and be effective in your practice, don’t hesitate to check our article (5 Easy Tips to Find Time to Practice your Instrument | Metronaut : Music practice app for classical musicians (antescofo.com) on the subject.
5. Think collective!
Music can be a solitary or a collective way to enjoy yourself. In the latter case, playing with other people can lead to different and interesting emotions, and new practice challenges. Then, if you feel like sharing your music, don’t hesitate to play with other musicians through lessons or collective practice. Taking weekly lessons is a very good incentive to practice, since you are accountable to somebody. Practicing with friends is a very good thing too, and organizing regular rehearsal will make you accountable to the other musicians/singers: it’s always easier to get motivated when we’re not alone. Being part of an orchestra, a choir, or even forming a small chamber music ensemble with friends might be a really good idea in order to get back quickly to both an effective and enjoyable practice time.
Following this advice, it is up to you to make your musical activity as pleasant and effective as possible! Be sure never to forget that music must never be seen as a constraint, but as a language, a way to express yourself and unveil new colors in your personality. Thinking positive will help you practice more, and better. If you this article has helped you, don’t hesitate to share it or give some feedback on the website or on social media at @metronautapp!