During a lockdown as well as the holiday season, many of us tend to lose our routine. The paradox is, when working from home or just spending time with our loved ones, we anticipate having lots of free time - which swiftly slips away from us, unless we're successful in establishing a routine.
Here are a few simple tips that will help you get your practice under control:
Step 1: Take a piece of paper and write down the time of day when you are at your best for:
1) piano technique
3) sound production
5) theory understanding
7) playing or performing the pieces in their entirety
Write down which part of the day suits each task (morning, afternoon, tea-time, or evening).
Step 2: Analyse your work schedule. Write down what time you begin working or have your family and social engagements, when you have breaks, and what time you finish.
Step 3: Combine both schedules together.
For example if you start your morning work at 8.30 and your technique is also best in the mornings, dedicate between 15 and 30 minutes to practising technical studies before starting your work. This means that even before you start your work day, you have already practiced and your fingers are in a good shape and even getting better.
Another example, if you say that you do your best practise on sound and artistic expression in the evening, note what time you finish your work or your family dinner. After your working day, make the time to do the exercises advised in the 'Transform Your Practice' video tutorial, which will help you change your energy and focus on your evening practice. Even making only thirty minutes is enough to accomplish work at the piano. Finally, if you find that you have a lunch break and your sight-reading skills are best in the afternoon, then schedule 10 to 15 minutes for sight-reading during that time (possibly after lunch, which can give you extra energy for your practice).
By doing this, you will be setting patterns in your brain which will help you to establish a regular practice routine and, therefore, make greater progress. This will be your practice foundation.
Here is a final note for perfectionists: if one day you miss your practice, please do not beat yourself up! We are all human. Forgive yourself and move on. :-)
If you want to hear more tips on how to organise your practice and establish your priorities, balance your energy, and keep improving your piano technique, please see my video tutorial 'Transform Your Practice.' This eleven-stage video programme is full of detailed suggestions, practice plans, exercises for concentration, performance fright management and more.
Enjoy your practice during this holiday season!