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The teacher asks, "Did you practice?"  The student replies, "I didn't have the time.  I had work obligations."  We have heard the saying all too often.  Whether an adult has been playing an instrument all their lives or just started to play in their early fifties, developing a consistent practice regime is difficult!  Work obligations get in the way.  Family commitments conflict with practice time.  The list goes on and on.  


Below are three practical principles adults can immediately put to practice.  These principles will help cultivate a steady practice schedule, despite having a busy schedule:


Select The Best Time That Works For You.


Do you remember going to high school class and choosing where to sit?  Chances are, you selected to sit at that same seat the following day.  We are all creatures of habit.  Research suggests that it takes at least 21 days to develop a habit in our lives.  Business author Brian Tracy says, "Bad habits are easy to develop and difficult to live with.  Good habits are difficult to develop and easy to live with."  This is very true!  As adults, we can be all over the place.  We have many responsibilities that consume most of our time.  As a result, very little time is left for personal development.  With this in mind, it's important to find the best time to practice that works for you and perhaps others in your household.  When is your home empty?  When are you at your best?  When are you less distracted?  It's important to address these questions as you select a time that works for you.  When you do, stick to this time on a regular basis.  If it's difficult to practice every day, you can choose every other day.  The key is to be consistent with your practice regime.  Selecting a time that works best for you will help you achieve this goal.


Put Away Technological Devices.


According to, the average person spends about two and a half hours on social media!  This has exponentially increased over the last few years!  Yet, we wonder where time goes!  Our phones and social media are significant time wasters.  Research now shows that social media leads to depression and anxiety.  A problem we all face is that our phones are always by us as we feel like we are missing important news or information.  We may be reading or practicing, and all of a sudden, we receive a notification.  We check it, begin to scroll, and completely lose our concentration and momentum on what we were doing.  Sound familiar?  So what is the solution to this?  When you set time aside to practice, put your phone in another room so it's out of sight and out of mind.  Your time to practice should be solely focused on your instrument.  The more focused you are, the more creative you will be.  You will make significant progress each practice time, because you are giving your undivided attention to your instrument.  This kind of concentrated practice is far more effective to do for 30 minutes each day rather than for two hours where you are all over the place!

Have A Plan!


Young children often have their parents hold them accountable to practicing.  However, adults have to take self-responsibility.  If we have one hour to practice a day, this is fantastic!  So what do you do during this time?  It is important to have a concise plan so you make the most out of this hour.  For instance, you can devise an outline that reads:


* 15 minutes to work on weaknesses

* 10 minutes to work on reading

* 20 minutes to work on the lesson material

* 15 minutes to work on creative development, which includes improvising


This is only an example.  The point is that if you have a specific plan on what to do, you will not waste time trying to figure out what to do.  Too often, musicians end up only reviewing or playing things they already know.  As a result, there is no incremental progress.  When you have a specific plan for each practice time, you won't waste time, and more importantly, you will find yourself progressing each time you practice!


As alluded to above, we are bombarded with many things to do in our daily lives.  Time management principles put into practice will help us control our time, and thus, enable us to find time to practice on a regular basis, regardless of how busy we are.  Finally, remember that practicing should always be fun!  Enjoy the process.  We are not in a race to be the best we can be.  Regardless of how fast or slow one makes progress, the key is to make progress!  Following these practice principles will assure diligence, efficiency, and progression in your playing.

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