Monday, April 16, 2012

30 Minutes to a Better You!

Sometimes in this crazy life, you might be lucky to get thirty minutes to yourself in a day. But, sometimes that is really all you need to make some significant strides on your musical goals.

Recently, I've been experimenting around with a business idea that has to do with goal-setting. In the process, I've been trying out different methods to help me achieve some of my personal musical goals. The first idea I had was to declare the month of April, "Make More Music Month". I know that sounds a little silly, being that my full-time job as a choral director involves singing and piano and when I'm not at school, I'm usually at church making music there. Really, though, my whole purpose for "Make More Music Month" was to focus my effort on some of my personal music goals and to be more present and aware when I am engaging in a musical activity.

Once I decided on "Make More Music Month", I came up with some key goals I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to spend more time working on some of my original songs that weren't completely finished. Also, I wanted to get some good practice time on some piano music I needed to learn to site read quickly.

Next came the practical application: how could I implement these goals in an already jam-packed schedule? I am reading this great little book I picked up on goal-setting, and out of it, I got the idea to schedule 30 minute increments into my weekdays for the specific purpose of working on my music. I even went so far as to set my iPad timer for 30 minutes and work until the timer beeped at me.

The first night I tried this , I confess I was concerned that I would get bored or would hit a creative block. And it did take me about 10 minutes to get into a good flow. But once I got there, I had no problem working until the timer went off. The next few times I used the 30 minute technique, time flew by so quickly, I ended up spending almost an extra hour in my music room because I had become so engrossed in the task at hand.

The result so far has been minimum effort on my part (I can do anything for 30 minutes), but maximum creativity and drive. By working against my self-imposed deadline, I am subconsciously priming myself to be more productive. And on those nights when I have only 30 minutes to spare, I don't feel guilty for quitting when the timer goes off. I've still logged my time for the day. As a result of this method, I can already say that "Make More Music Month" is a success. I have finished writing of one of my new original songs, written choral parts for it, and laid down a scratch recording. I have also made great strides in a piano piece I will be playing for one of my high school groups at State MPA. And I've had a lot of fun in the process doing what I'm most passionate about.

I believe this method can be valuable for any goal, but maybe it could serve as just the method you need to kick-start your own musical projects. Need to learn a new song? Employ the 30 minute rule for the next three days, and you'll probably come away knowing the song inside and out quicker than you thought. Want to study a new vocal technique or research new vocal warm-ups? Try the 30 minute rule. Set the timer and see how much information you can dig up online before the timer goes off. The 30 minute rule can even be great for a practice vocal session. Thirty minutes is the perfect amount of time to get in a great vocal workout or lesson.

I hope this method gives you great success and increases your productivity! Here's to becoming a better singer/ musician... thirty minutes at a time!