Have you hit a roadblock in your music lessons? Maybe your motivation is dwindling, or you’re feeling frustrated with your progress. Don’t worry – it’s completely normal. Luckily, there are some strategies you can try for tackling these challenges. Read on to see Snellville, GA teacher Mark W‘s advice..
Hi everyone! I would like to share with you my tips and tricks for keeping yourself motivated and moving forward in your musical adventures. I think you know what I am talking about here. You have been taking your lessons like clockwork and making some good progress. Maybe you even have a few concerts under your belt. That is excellent and you should shine with pride at your accomplishments so far. But progress is all about moving forward and improving on what you have built.
First and foremost, remember that just attending your music lessons is not enough to move you forward. You must take the information and skills that your teacher passes on to you and grow it with practice outside of the lessons.
First, schedule a time for yourself to practice, just like your lessons have a set time. When you are consistent, you train your brain into knowing, “Hey, it’s time to practice!” Whether you practice better in the morning or evening, but pick a good time and stick to it.
You’ll want to put in 15-30 minutes of practice each session when you are first starting. You can crank it up later on, but for now that is plenty for a session. My teacher always used to say it was better to practice 10 good minutes than 20 bad ones, and he was right. I recommend shooting for two sessions a week for beginners. If you want to get some serious musical mojo going, 5+ sessions a week is not unreasonable. Just find a comfortable number and stick with it.
Next, find a comfortable spot to practice. Seriously, we are creatures of comfort for the most part; when you are comfortable, you relax and everything becomes much more enjoyable, including practicing.
Finally, set music goals for yourself. Consider short-term goals to start. For example, make it a goal to complete a phrase without stopping at all by the end of your practice session or practice a difficult passage 10 times in one sitting. Once you are comfortable, set longer-term goals like memorizing a piece or performing a recital. Having goals motivates you and that moves everything forward.
If you get stuck on something, don’t bash your head against the wall trying to fix it all in one go. Move on, play something different, take a break. If it feels like work, then change what you are doing. Say ‘no’ to the idea of practicing without desire. What little good that might accomplish will be undone by the damage that is caused to your enjoyment of the music.
Coda: I will leave you with one final note! Music is about making a long journey with lots of small steps. Get psyched by each small progress you make and before you know it, you will be making music and not just practicing.
Mark W. teaches violin lessons to students of all ages in Snellville, GA. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Applied Music from West Virginia University, and his specialties include classical solos, orchestral audition prep, and the Suzuki Method. Mark joined the TakeLessons team in February 2013. Learn more about Mark, or search for a teacher near you!
Photo by NazarethCollege