How Often Should I Practice Music?Sep 19, 2023
How often should you practice, you ask? Well every day, of course! Without fail. You certainly want to practice on any day that ends in a “Y”. C’mon, don’t you know that?
If you think that’s not practical, you haven’t been reading our articles. Remember, you will never find the time to practice; you have to create time to practice. Once you create time in your daily life, you will have all kinds of time available to work on your musical skills.
But do you really have to practice every day? I mean…really, really have to practice every day? I mean…every…single…day??
All right. I’ll let you off the hook, but just a little!
If you are just starting out on your instrument OR if you haven’t practiced consistently in the past and really want to make big improvements on your instrument, then YES, you must practice every single day.
But I’ll also make it a little easy on you: practice every single day for just the first 30 days.
Why 30 days? Well, research has shown that it takes at least 21 days to create a fully-ingrained habit in your daily life. In order to do this, you need to engage in something every day for at least that amount of time. Whether it’s anything from working out to practicing music, you psychologically connect to your habit after doing it, day in and day out, for at least three weeks.
At least three weeks!
Never let it be said that we will only do the least we can do, right? In my own personal experience (40 years in music and counting), practicing every single day for one month really sets the musician up for being consistent with their practicing in the future. After 30 days, you will actually feel weird and unsettled if you don’t get your practicing in. It’ll feel like something is missing in your day.
After 30 days, it’ll actually be more psychologically difficult for you NOT to practice! Imagine that!!
Another important thing about practicing every day for the first 30 days is that learning music is a physical skill. Physical skills need one thing more than anything else…consistency! It’s the consistent physical movements that become part of what is commonly known as ‘muscle memory’. Practice every day, and you'll be working with the effective learning strategy of 'compounded learning'. If you take a day off during this crucial first 30 days, your body almost has to re-learn what it did before. This’ll make learning music take much longer than it needs to.
Plus, how cool would it be to have your own little “30-Day Challenge” to share with your friends? You can post videos of yourself sitting down with your instrument and saying something like “Well, I’m on Day 23 of my 30 Day Challenge. I’d love to hear your support!”.
…and you’d get it, right? How many people on social media love challenges, especially when they can just be supportive and not have to do them!
Just know that you won’t do any of this unless you have created something to drive you to practice. If you aren’t driven to pick up your instrument and improve your skills, no cute social media campaign is going to motivate or inspire you.
So what happens after 30 days?
If (and that’s a big ‘if’ at this point) you go 30 days in a row with your practicing, then you will have been rewarded with your fully-ingrained practice habit. At this point, taking a day off from playing or practicing won’t be as counter productive as it would’ve been before. Remember, the name of the game is ‘consistency’. The more time you take off from practicing, the longer it’ll take to get your skills back up to shape.
Be smart about all this too. Don’t schedule your practice time when you know you’ll be tired or busy, because this will just sabotage your intentions. If you have a particularly busy week, you might think that practicing on fewer days is the best solution. DON’T DO THAT! It’s better to practice for a shorter amount of time each day than to practice less days.
Why? Consistency, silly! That’s why! Have you not been listening? How long you practice is not as important as how often you practice. If you have to cut back, cut back on how many minutes you practice and not how many days you practice. Know that a little time, over time, equals BIG improvement!
The last thing you want to do is to get off your practice ritual completely, because it’s much harder to get back to your practicing than to maintain your practicing. If you’ve done your own 30-Day Challenge, it’ll be quite difficult for you to quit practicing completely. Not impossible, but quite difficult.
Remember that if you truly know why you are putting yourself through the rigors of learning music, schedule your practice in advance, understand that the road will be challenging, and get rid of any preconceived timeline you have, you will be amazed at how well you’ll stick to your new Practice Ritual. In time, you will see massive improvement. In time, you will be amazed at what you can do. In time, you’ll become a true Practice Warrior!
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