Every fall here in the Upstate, you can drive almost anywhere and be greeted by many breathtaking views and gorgeous foliage. The leaves are changing colors, and the mountains will soon glow with the vivid color of fire. It’s all paired with crisp, cool weather which makes it very enjoyable to go hiking through the mountains. But can you imagine starting on a beautiful fall hike only to stop and give up three quarters of the way through because you were tired and frustrated?
But sometimes that’s what happens at this point in the school year when it comes to practicing. We’ve been at it just long enough that it’s getting a little harder to be consistent or there is more music to learn to prepare for our special holiday performances coming up. So what do you do when you are feeling overwhelmed about practicing?
Go back and play through favorite pieces that you’ve already learned. You’ll not only realize how far you’ve come, but you’ll very likely rediscover why you wanted to take music lessons in the first place! You’ll also be able to remind yourself that you CAN get through your new pieces, as you remember the great feeling you had when you first learned the pieces that you are now reviewing and can play so easily!
Find a different time of day for practicing. Maybe you’ve been practicing after supper. Change it up and practice in right after school instead. Or maybe you’ve been struggling to get in all of your practice. Why not break up your practice time and get in half in the morning and the other half later in the day? Sometimes a change of pace is all you need.
Change up the way you practice. Start in the middle of the piece and work on the hard part first. Divide your music into small sections and go section by section. Start at the last section of the piece, practicing “backwards” section by section. Practice the hardest parts twice as many times as the easy parts.
Set a goal for yourself. Decide that you are going to learn one song or one part of a song in one or two practice sessions. Work on memorizing a section (or the whole song) by your next lesson. You might also set goals for repeating your pieces “x” number of times or practicing for “x” number of minutes each day.
Do some extra practice. That piece of advice almost sounds counterintuitive, but often it’s when we most feel like giving up that we are very close to having a big breakthrough! So that extra time invested in practicing more than you normally do has huge potential to really pay off.
Talk to your teacher. We can’t encourage this enough! Whether you’re a parent seeking extra help for your child, or you’re an older student or an adult student, you will find a sympathetic ally and lots of ideas from your teacher. If your teacher knows you’re struggling, but that you want to do better, they will do everything they can to give you tips, ideas, and helps to make sure you succeed.
The moral of the story? Keep on hiking! When you get to the top of the mountain at recital time and you look back at all you accomplished, you’ll be so glad you didn’t give up and quit.