Thoughts on Practicing

Last January, I taught a course on Efficient Practicing during Winter Term at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Fifteen collegiate students joined me for a fast-paced, three day workshop with the goal of increasing healthy, strategies and time-saving ways of practicing while balancing the stressful reality of being a full time student.

Year after year, I have seen students struggle with time management, self-care and goal setting, being overwhelmed, frazzled and consequently getting sick and often emotionally distraught from their stress and overwhelm. So much of this stems from students not knowing what a career means to them, nor having a clear vision of what they want to accomplish while being in school.

My vision for the course was to teach the students how to:

    • Clearly define their goals

    • Develop more self-awareness, self-assessment and analyze objectively without emotional criticism

    • Develop effective time management skills and learn how to strategically set goals even when “there is not enough time”

    • Transform an inspired goal into a strategic plan that is achievable in a repeatable way

Prior to the start of the course, I sent out a questionnaire to all participants to understand what they perceived as their biggest challenges regarding practicing and what they wanted the most help with.

Most students were confused about how to practice. Some of them had good practicing strategies put in place while others were at the beginning stages of implementing a disciplined practice routine. Mostly, they had vague notions and undefined concepts about what efficiency is and what effective results are.

Many were unsure of what to practice and about how to manage their time. Feeling unprepared for performances, being nervous on stage, and having difficulty finding inspiration while practicing were also mentioned.

Physical injuries and poor self-care strategies were a major concern for 90% of the attendees.

What we uncovered about goal setting is that only 50% of the attendees set goals at all, and those that did were unable to articulate what their goals were actually for. When asked what their larger vision was or what career looked like for them, they were unable to answer.

Finally, most attendees had no concept about mindset and how to utilize it for effective practicing and performance.

The overall results and experience of this introductory course were so inspiring to me that I decided to expand the material and to make it available to a wider audience.

Over the next few months, I will be sharing with you different material on practicing strategies, ideas about time and how we perceive it, time management strategies, and goal-setting strategies. I will also talk about some of my role models who have inspired me and shown the way to achieving excellence in music, the arts, and in life.

Be sure to follow my blog where I will share next week’s article on Practicing and Time Management.

If you’d like to go more in depth, you can join me at my summer intensive, Efficient Practicing August 2-4. Click here to register.