Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Power of Purposeful Practice

How's that title for alliteration? The Power of Purposeful Practice.  What a magnificent sounding phrase!  Sorry, I couldn't help myself!

I really do mean to write about something important today.  Something that many people, myself included, don't often enjoy.  That's practice.

Yesterday, I taught a piano lesson to a young girl.  It was only our second lesson together, but she did something that absolutely astonished me.  She played all of her songs from the previous week with confidence and told me she had already prepared for this week's songs ahead of time.  Translation: she practiced!

All of you piano and voice teachers out there can now join me in a dance because you know how wonderful it makes you feel when a student does what you ask them to and more!

After the lesson, I bragged on the girl to her parents, telling them she is going to be great at the piano.  And I truly believe that because she has the drive to do the hard work.  She's going to practice and that is only going to make her better over time.

Now, confession time: I often struggle with practice myself.  As organized as I consider myself to be, I am still the Queen of Procrastination.  Often before a Thursday night choir rehearsal, I wait until Thursday afternoon to review my set list and prepare what I'm going to teach.  But on those rare occasions that I prepare a few days ahead of time, I find myself feeling much more confident and prepared when it's time for choir rehearsal.  This leads me to believe that practice brings confidence.

Ah, but not just any practice will do.  The title of this post is "The Power of Purposeful Practice".  Meaning, the practice has to achieve some sort of goal to be the most effective.

For instance, if I am working on learning a new Mozart song on the piano, I could sit down and try to run through the entire song at first practice.  Honestly, I would probably get frustrated and not look at the piece for a few months (true story!).  OR, I could sit down and commit to practicing fifteen minutes on the first eight measures of the song.  My outcome will probably sound a lot better, and I'm more likely to show up for practice the next day if I've achieved my mini goal.  One example demonstrates practice without any clear purpose; the other demonstrates a purposeful practice.

This technique of purposeful practice doesn't just work for playing the piano or singing.  It can translate into any area of your life where you'd like to see improvement.  Even little five minute purposeful practice sessions each day can add up very quickly.

To implement purposeful practice into your life, try these easy steps:

1. Set a purposeful practice goal. Example: "I want to learn to sing the first verse and chorus of my favorite song".

2. Set a time limit. Example: "I'm going to work on this for the next twenty minutes".

3. Set a timer and practice.  When the timer goes off, stop the practice and evaluate whether or not you've met your goal.

4. Repeat Steps 1-3 every day, setting new practice goals as you need to.

We've all heard the saying "practice makes perfect".  Although in some cases that might be true, I propose a new saying: "purposeful practice makes confidence".

What are you waiting for?  Go practice purposefully today!

1 comment:

  1. Very good advice, Kristin. It's amazing what you can do if you can just keep yourself on track.