If you’re like most music students, the activity of practice doesn’t thrill you.
While it’s great fun to get better on your instrument and be able to perform more challenging repertoire at a higher level, the actual day-in-and-day-out practice regime isn’t exactly exciting or glamorous.
One Solution From The World Of Fitness
A relatively recent post over by Dr. Noa Kageyama at TheBulletproofMusician.com uses data from the world of exercise science and psychology that may make your practice sessions a bit more palatable, though.
The experiment in Dr. Kageyama’s article involved a group of 46 participants who were split into two groups and assigned to one of two 15-minute exercise programs. One group’s program started off relatively easy and got progressively more challenging (the increasing-intensity group), while the other program started off challenging and got easier as it went (the decreasing-intensity group).
During each 15-minute workout, each group participant was asked to rate their enjoyment of the workout. After each workout was done, they were also asked how much they enjoyed it. Finally, the participants were asked at a later date about how enjoyable they remembered their workouts, and how much they predicted enjoyment for future workouts.
You can probably already see where this is going. While the overall enjoyment of participants was basically the same in both the increasing-intensity and decreasing-intensity groups, the decreasing group rated their enjoyment after the fact as much higher. They also remembered their sessions as more enjoyable and predicted more enjoyment in future sessions than the increasing-intensity group.
Not Perfect, But…
While this style of exercise routine programming showed an improvement in enjoyment, that doesn’t mean that you can copy this formula exactly in your practice sessions.
For one, generally practice sessions should be preceded by at least some warm-up. This warm-up material should generally start off in the mid-range, before progressing to the extreme registers, but you can certainly use the decreasing-intensity format you get into the “meat” of your practice session.
Additionally, there may be sometimes when it pays to save harder material for the end of a practice session. If you are working on endurance, for example, it may mean that you must practice some more difficult music or sections at the end of your practice session, to make sure that you are able to play these things even when you are tired.
However, if you are having a difficult time finding the motivation to practice, getting the most difficult stuff out of the way may help you with motivation.