Image of a notepad with the words 'Plan of Action' and 'Practise' written on it

Lockdown has brought different challenges to different people. You may have discovered that you’ve got tonnes of time to practise. Maybe you’re juggling multiple responsibilities and need to make your practice time as efficient as possible. Or you might find that having lots on your mind means you can’t concentrate very well at the moment.

We are here to help! We have loads of tips to help you increase motivation to practise and make your practice time more effective. Do you have any more tips to share? Let us know by email or social media.

Let’s get motivated

Make like Mr Motivator and get yourself pumped for practice! Getting started is the hardest part, so set a regular schedule for yourself. It will soon become as easy to fit in as brushing your teeth.

Try setting an alarm for starting your practice – the same time each day, if you can, or work out a time for each day of the week. Put this in your calendar and set up reminders.

Ever heard the term ‘eat the frog’? If you’re finding your practice hard, start doing it first thing in the morning. Getting it done early means you can relax for the rest of the day without worrying when you’ll fit it around your other commitments (those TV shows won’t binge themselves).

Try a practice challenge. We have charts available all the way up to 100 days on our Resource Base. Set your goal and give yourself a prize at the end of it. There is a special covid-19 day practice chart in our free resources bundle.

Making it count

Now we’ve got going, how can we keep our focus and make our practice really effective in the time available?

Make your practice goal-focused. Be specific. Instead of thinking ‘I’m going to practise this piece’, think ‘I’m going to improve my dynamics in this middle section’. Write down a short list of goals for each practice. This is best done at the end of the previous practice session, as it means you can open your book and get cracking without having to plan and think too much.

Don’t always start from the beginning. If you start in the same place each time, you’ll get really good at that initial bit. Your brain will soon become tired and you will stop in the same difficult places each time. Start with the hardest/least familiar section.

Practice makes permanent! In order to improve, you need to work on playing things more times ‘right’ than ‘wrong’ (‘right’ being the way you want it to sound, rather than the way you’re unhappy with). Find your small tricky section – really reduce it down to the specific bit you need to work on. Repeat this until you can play it 3 times in a row exactly how you want it. Made a mistake? Go back to zero. Once you’ve managed 3 in a row, can you do 5 in a row? 10? Go wild!

Slow down. Your brain and body need time to process. Practise slowly and you’ll reap the rewards!

If you practise something slowly, you forget it slowly. If you practise something fast, you forget it fast.

Itzhak Perlman – violinist

Rewarding yourself

Life is hard enough at the moment. Be kind to yourself and take stock of what you’ve achieved, rather than focusing on the things you’d like to improve. Managed to improve your bow hold? Great! Is your intonation much better than 6 months ago? Look at you go! Is your ear so good that you notice when your tone isn’t AMAZING? Well, look who is one step closer to their virtuoso career!

Put on a concert for friends and family – this might be over the internet, phone, or even through the window. There aren’t many concerts happening at the moment, so you’ll really brighten someone’s day. It is a great practice goal to aim for too.

Give yourself a treat for all your hard work by playing something really fun at the end of your practice session. It makes all the technical work worth it.

Send us your videos and we’ll share our favourites on social media. Tag us @figurenotes or use #FigurenotesAtHome. We’d love to hear more of your practice tips too!