Use this simple tool to keep yourself accountable and motivated to get things done!
Sometimes I have a hard time concentrating when I practice. A really hard time. I generally have issues concentrating, and those are exacerbated when I sit down to practice violin efficiently. (It truly is a miracle I’ve made it this far.) There are a number of things that distract me from focused, efficient practice, such as:
- Food (food is very important to me)
- Calls from my student
- The mess in my house
- An itch on my nose
- The spider crawling across the carpet
- The ticking of the clock
- Bills to pay
- Telling my husband something “real quick”
- The inviting sunshine outside
The list goes on and on… You name it, I will start thinking about it in order to avoid focusing on practice.
So, what do I do to get myself back on task? I’ve heard many times of using a timer to help students practice, but I never considered it as a technique that would be applicable to me.
I’ve started using the TimeTag on my iPad or phone, and it has changed the way I practice. I can keep track of how much time I spend on each piece, write notes on what I did, and color-code everything. It makes my Type A brain so happy. Of course, you don’t need an app for this! You can use the timer on the microwave, or an egg timer, or whatever you want.
When the timer is running, I know it is time to practice, and therefore it is not time for anything else. It is not time for getting a drink, going to the bathroom, or sending a quick email. It is practice time. If one of those things absolutely must be done, I stop the timer, get it done, and come back.
It surprised me at first how slow the time went before I had reached an hour of actual practice time, but then I realized how much of what I considered my “practice hours” must have been filled with puttering.
As I mentioned, another perk of using the timer, is how I can keep track of how much I practiced each piece. When I have a TON of music to learn, it can be overwhelming! I create a “tag” for each piece on my TimeTag app, and then I can keep track of how much I have practiced each piece over the past months. It is important not to get too bogged down in one piece, I want to get through every piece or excerpt every two days. I give myself twenty minutes for each piece, and the timer keeps me aware of how much time has passed. Because I know I only have a limited number of minutes for each piece, I am more likely to focus and really get things done.
The timer has proved to be incredibly helpful as I prepare for auditions or recitals. When it’s crunch time, I really have to be intentional about how I practice violin efficiently. I highly suggest the use of a timer as a practice tool for students and professionals alike!!
So far I haven’t used this with my students, but you can bet I am going to be encouraging using a timer at home practice sessions for sure!
How do you stay on task when you practice violin? Have you tried using a timer? Do you think it helps or no?