The American Music Awards entertained us last night with glitz, glamor, celebrities and of course – music! Taylor Swift and Adele tied at three awards each, with Swift winning the coveted Artist of the Year honor.
These ladies have come a long way, and even if they make performing and winning awards look easy, one thing is for certain: they had to practice to get where they are now.
Sometimes, no matter what our age, practicing just might not sound appealing on a given day. If you’re starting to learn an instrument later in life, you might get home from a busy day at work and feel like relaxing on the couch instead of breaking out the book of scales and etudes. Unless you have a specific goal you’re working on, it can be all too easy to lose focus and think up a dozen excuses to avoid practicing. Sometimes it’s just easier to be stubborn.
Still, practicing is an unavoidable part of learning anything – so it’s about time to face your excuses head-on. Here, Lisa at the Music Made Easy blog tunes us into the most common excuses for not practicing… and how to overcome them:
1. Not Having Enough Time
Solution: This barrier is simply perspective. Sometimes you may feel like you haven’t got enough time to practice because you think your minimum practice time should be an hour or half an hour. It’s ok to practice for five, ten or even three minutes at a time. Doing these short amounts of practice with focus is still better than not doing any practice at all. When I ask students if they could find five minutes in the day to play their instruments, they always answer that they can. If you adopt this mindset, you will find you will practice more and feel better about your music.
2. Lack of Motivation
Solution: Most commonly, lack of motivation is due to not having any goals for your music or having unrealistic expectations of what your progress should be. So, start by setting some realistic goals for yourself, one that you can achieve in a single practice session, one you can achieve in a week and one that you can achieve in a month. Once you have something to work towards and something you want to achieve you will find your motivation levels improve.
3. Not Enjoying Practice/It’s too Boring
Solution: Make sure you have some goals for your music and design your practice activities towards achieving these goals. Having resources you like to work from is also important. Practice can only be boring if you are stagnant, repeating the same exercises and routines over and over. So try to change this if it is your habit. Try to have a practice goal for every session you do and collect resources that will help you achieve these goals.
4. Being Too Tired or Not in the Mood
Solution: If you practice a lot and this happens every now and then, that’s ok, take a break. However, if this is a recurring theme for you, you may need to do some reflection work and see if the cause is something a little deeper, like not feeling motivated or not having goals or not knowing how or what to practice. If the problem is simply that you are a busy person and tired at the end of the day, you need to have the mindset to just play your instrument for five minutes, beginning with breath focus and relaxation, knowing that this five minutes is like a meditation and a break for you. It means framing your music practice not as work and effort but as a relaxing and energizing activity.
5. Not Having the Right Equipment / Don’t Like Current Instrument
Solution: Firstly, don’t be under the illusion that you have to have the best equipment in order to learn music. You can definitely start simply and build from there. Secondly, if you haven’t got the money to get the equipment you need, you have to think creatively about it. You could borrow a friend’s instrument, hire a practice space, or rent an instrument. Where there is a will, there is usually a way!
Do any of these excuses sound familiar? As you can see, it’s all about mindset. At one point, you were excited to try a new instrument – set some goals and do what you can to get that excitement back! Speak with your teacher if you’re at a loss – they’re here to help! How do you overcome your own excuses? We’d love to hear! Stop by our Facebook page and share your thoughts with the TakeLessons community.