How To Practice On Your Instrument When You Have Limited Time (and Still Get Great Results)

How To Practice On Your Instrument When You Have Limited Time (and Still Get Great Results)

One of the biggest challenges music students, especially older ones who are working and have families, is the limited time available to them to practice.

Here are 5 tips to help you are pressed for time but still want to improve.

  1. Be as efficient as you can be in your practice time
    Practice the right things to move forward and toward your goals. Practice with intent…don’t simply pick up the instrument and mindlessly wander through a few songs or play a couple of exercises without focus and consider it ‘done’. Be observant of your playing, work on that which you need to, be disciplined to ensure you play the pieces or exercises correctly. 
  2. Practice Consistently
    Some teachers will suggest you must practice every day. This is a great thing to do, but if that isn’t possible I would suggest 5 days a week. Short periods of 5-15 minutes of focused practice is more beneficial that one long session once a week. 
  3. Focus on Developing More Than One Musical Skill At A Time
    Work on exercises or songs that will develop more than one skill at a time, and also that develop concepts that are transferable to other songs or styles of music, and this will help you maximise your practice time.
  4. Use A Practice Diary
    Plan out practice schedules. Determine how much time you have for any given session, what you wish to achieve in that period of time, and how you will do so. If you are getting lessons make sure you jot down any questions you have between appointments so you don’t forget to ask them when you next see your teacher.
    Using a diary is also a great tool to track your musical progress and development. Use it to evaluate what is working and what isn’t, reflect on your achievements, and note any future goals as they appear.
  5. Look For Opportunities To Practice Away From The Instrument
    When I was a school kid I couldn’t have the guitar in my hands as much as I wanted to, but I knew I could work on my musicianship away from the guitar anyway. Sitting on the bus going to school I would listen to music and attempt to work out songs by ear without having the guitar to check it as I went. And then when I got home I normally raced into my room to see how I had performed. Some days I was so excited to have done well…other days I was nowhere near it!
    There are other things you can work on such as rhythm (clapping or tapping beats against your foot, which acts as a metronome, or clapping a rhythm with one hand whilst the other keeps the beat), phrasing for improvisation by humming or singing lines, committing song structures to memory, ear training for things such as intervals and chord types and inversions…and probably more I cannot think of now!

    Having a good teacher can also help with all of this. They will have the experience to suggest ways to improve according to your musical goals and current level of experience, can keep refining your practice routine with you in light of this, and also hold you accountable to your commitment to the instrument.

    Engadine Music have been offering quality music lessons for all popular instruments and singing to music students in the Sutherland Shire for over 30 years. For more information email the shop or call (02) 9520 3044 and ask for Marie.
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Helen Butters - July 1, 2018

Hi there!
I am considering taking up guitar lessons at the ripe old age of 51, having never played before!!! I am curious to know how much per lesson and for how long? My daughter used to learn, so I have a guitar. I would prefer a lesson during the day, rather than the evening, if available?

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