Tips to Apply for more Focused Practice

As I have spent the last year working on my Piano technique and building repertoire almost every day (322 out of the last 365 days to be precise) I have noticed how difficult on occasions it is to maintain focus. Sometimes at the end of a long session other unrelated thoughts and worries break through with increasing regularity. This is very frustrating when I really want to stay focused but my brain doesn’t let me. I start playing a particular passage and by end I have drifted off again. To combat this I have been looking into how people from around the web deal with a drifting mind and I will apply some of these techniques over the next week to see which I have success with so I know what to recommend to my students and the wider world.

One recurring tip is to set clear goals for your practice. That is to know before you start what you are going to play and why you are playing it. It sounds obvious written down like this but do I really have clear goals in mind when I sit down to play? Not always…and mabey that’s when I drift.

Another regular suggestion is to take frequent breaks. I find this is easy to not stick to when you really get stuck into a practice session. I try to have a cuppa along side to keep sipping away at as I play but many times this has gone cold before I take my first sip. A break every 15 mins is a suggestion…I’ll give this a go!

I am also going to incorporate a more strict plan for each session involving a short warm-up with several changes of piece in shorter sessions. I rarely engage in a fixed warm-up routine as I’m playing every day for many hours I hardly feel my muscles need warming up, but perhaps my brain does? It works for my rehearsals with amateur singers and musicians so perhaps it will for my own routine.

So these are the tips I am going to apply over the next week…

  • Plan each practise sessions with a repertoire list and points to work on
  • Warm-up with technical exercises
  • Break every 15 mins
  • Contemplate if the goals were achieved.

I’ll report back next week with my personal findings.