#MondayMusicMotivation: Growing Your Practice Goals
Updated: Aug 18
What I have noticed during my time out of school is the lack of motivation when it comes to practicing.
When I was in school (even during the long summer breaks) it was easy to feel motivated by preparing for auditions at the beginning of the year, recital repertoire, ensemble music, and anything that we were given to work on before studio class.
Since I’ve been freelancing, my main thought when it came to practicing said,
“If you don’t keep up with your skills, you will lose them and never make it in this world.”
Having that in mind, my practice consisted mostly on working basic technique by spending 1 to 2 hours working on tone and scales alone. Yes, these aspects are vital in our playing skills, but I began to feel exhausted and burned out when the time came to play actual repertoire. The more this routine progressed, the more my interest in playing the flute regressed.
It wasn’t until this past January that I fell ill with a bad cough. This put me in a gradual strain with my body that eventually led me to an urgent care trip. It turned out, I had coughed so hard that I pulled my right intercostal muscle, so after that trip, I took it easy on both my body and mental state by putting practicing on hold and treating myself with the respect it needed to rest and recover.
Fast forward to early March, COVID-19 is labeled as a pandemic, and “most” of the world has shut down. All the schools I taught at were put on hold, some of my students took a break from doing virtual lessons, and even my part time job at the coffee shop provided fewer work hours. I first took this all negatively, stressing about finances, but then I told myself,
“Catherine, maybe this is the time for you to GROW."
One of my goals with growth was picking up my flute again and feeling inspired to re-learn my skills and enjoy playing music.
When I began my regular practice sessions, I went back to the same habit of just focusing on the technical aspects again with a few additions. I wanted to put myself back into performing shape as well as challenge myself with a set of etudes I had longed try to finish but always gave up on. Each session was always logged in a journal, and I would create the habit of looking back to see WHAT I could work on in the next or current session.
As weeks passed, I began to feel the burn out yet again. On my days off, I would rather focus on other tasks than taking a couple of hours to play my instrument. I realized that I didn’t want to fall back into this trap, and as much as journaling helped me, I needed something to MOTIVATE me to play music again.
That was when I wrote down 1 goal for myself, whether it was before or at the beginning of my practice sessions. Sometimes the goal was:
“Sight read an orchestral piece that inspires you.”
“Conquer the ending of Andersen #4 and try recording it yourself. Let those nerves go!”
“Pick up your alto flute and play it for once!”
As this continued, I began to discover more goals for myself, and I felt even more motivated to pick up my instrument and actually play music again.
Today, practicing feels more fulfilling and less like a chore. Because of this revelation, I wanted to share this sheet to other musicians who are going through or have struggled in their own practice sessions in a similar way.
Maybe you need a motivational boost to pick up your instrument, or you need some guidance in your practice sessions that will help you win a competition or a future audition. They can be small goals for your warm up, so you can feel better with a certain scale or control your intonation. Maybe you have a bigger goal like taking on an excerpt that straight up scares you, but instead of living in fear forever you want to take up that challenge.
ABOUT THE SHEET:
The sheet has 3 goals written on there, but it doesn’t mean you ALWAYS have to have 3 goals for each practice session. Some days I have 3 goals in mind, and other days I may have less. Write whatever goal(s) come to your mind, whether it's the day before or right at the beginning of your practice.
There are 5 days that structure this sheet, but it doesn’t mean you HAVE to practice 5 days in a week. Let's face reality for a second; the will be some weeks that will be busier than others, so if you get 3 days of practice down within a week, GREAT! If you happen to get all 5 days of practice within a week (maybe more) that’s GREAT too!
Don't think of this as a contest to see who has the most goals and days practiced. Instead, think of this as your own personal journey to grow your musical mindset and technical skills with your instrument.
If you want to create goals for yourself in your next practice session download your own Practice Goal Sheet HERE! (Did I mention they're free?)
Also I think you will notice all the different choices available to you with this practice sheet. I feel most inspired wiht colors & imagery when I perform music, so why not apply it in the practice room? You will find a wonderful set of different colors & combinations because the excitement in sharing this to you all led me to get way too carried away on Canva.
To close this up musician friends, I encourage you to pick YOUR practice goal sheet, write down a goal or two, and continue to make the music that inspires you!