Last week I shared some tips for thinking creatively about how to schedule all your the necessary practice each day. But once you get into that practice room, it can be difficult to know how best to spend your time. Here are my thoughts in part 2 of "Mastering Your Practice":
Step 2: Control Your Time
1. Develop necessary categories of playing that you must exercise every day; consult with your studio teacher on this (mine are sound, technique, and repertoire). For myself, and for my students here at University of Wyoming, I suggest the Practice Triad of Triumph, which I've also shared here before. You can review it here, and feel free to sub in your own favorite sources for each category.
2. Create a to-do list under each category. Under sound I have tone in each register, flexibility, articulation, vibrato; technique includes scales, arpeggios, chords, and high register fingerings, etc. Again, this comes from the Practice Triad.
3. Decide how your budgeted time blocks, above, will correspond to your to-do lists for each category every day.
4. Insist on maintaining your focus (which is hard after a while!). Consider the Pomodoro Technique: 25 minutes of work followed by a 5 minute break. Give it a try for a couple of days and take stock--when do you start to space out? That's how long your work session should be. How short can you make your break, and what;'s the best way to spend that break so you feel refreshed quickly? (I like to stay off social media, which can suck me in for far longer than 5 minutes at a time!)
5. Keep a practice diary with problems you're tackling and the solutions you're currently testing. Keep lists of practice tempos for different passages you're wood shedding (more on that next week). And if you're a student, keep track of questions you would like to bring up in your next lesson.