Practicing music can be daunting. We get it. Whether it's because of school or work, you've had responsibilities all day, and having to come home to another obligation that requires your time and attention often leaves your practice session dead on arrival. Here are some tips to help get you practicing more often and more effectively.
1. Go for Shorter Durations
Is an hour-long practice session better than a 7-minute one? Well, yeah. Of course. But a 7-minute practice session is much better than nothing, and in fact, practicing 7 minutes a day multiple days a week is typically better than one long practice session a week. Muscle memory takes time to build, and playing or singing a song and some scales every day, even for a very short duration can make a huge difference over time. Not to mention that once you're practicing, you'll probably get a burst of energy and practice longer than the 7 minutes you promised yourself. Be realistic with yourself. If promising yourself a half hour scares you into not practicing most days, shorten the duration.
2. Practice the Hard Parts
You don't have time for everything, and while rehearsing a song over and over again can be fun, it's less effective than just drilling the hard part a bunch of times. If you rehearse the same mistake over and over again without fixing it, you'll likely always stumble in that spot. If you just isolate the hard part until you have that down, the whole piece will run more smoothly.
3. Remove as Many Barriers as Possible
It doesn't sound like a big deal, but sometimes just knowing you have to take the guitar out of its case can be a roadblock if you're worn out enough. So eliminate as many obstacles ahead of time as possible. Keep that guitar on a stand in your practice room instead of in a case. Keep all your materials together so that you don't have to tear apart your house just to sit down and play. Have the backing track for the song you need to sing geared up and ready to go so that you don't have to search through 20 tracks on a CD to find the one you need.
4. Have a Set Practice Time
In a perfect world, you'd just be able to sit down and make music when you have a burst of inspiration. But in the real world, that burst of inspiration often happens in the middle of other obligations, and you miss it. If you need to wait for a burst of inspiration, practicing probably won't happen past the first couple weeks of learning to sing or play an instrument. If you have a set practice time and make it part of your routine, you're much more likely to keep up with it.
5. Practice Wherever and Whenever You Can
I stand by what I said when I mentioned having a set practice time. But that doesn't mean that you can't also find other times throughout the day. As a singer, I love practicing in the car. I like warming up on the way to the freeway and then using my freeway drive to work to practice songs. It may not be ideal: it's nice to be able to stand and move when you sing, for example; but if I didn't have these car trips, it's likely that I wouldn't be getting any of my practicing in, and as I said before, some practice is infinitely better than no practice. If you're at your grandma's house, and she has a grand piano that inspires you, that's a perfect opportunity to sit down and work through a few songs. Get your practicing in wherever and whenever it's possible.