Happy New Year from your administrators and instructors at North End Music & Performing Arts Center (NEMPAC)! As you embark upon the first few weeks of 2019, we hope you take a moment to reflect on the musical successes you had in 2018, as well as the resolutions you have for yourself as a musician and a performer in the New Year.

Regardless of where you find yourself in your musical journey, we hope that one of your New Year’s resolutions includes maintaining a consistent practice schedule in 2019. Regular rehearsals will help you grow leaps and bounds as a musician, while giving you the self-confidence to shine even brighter during your upcoming performances this year.

To support your achievement of this music resolution, below you’ll find four approaches to rehearsals that will ensure your next practice session is as productive as it is rewarding:

1. Measure by Measure, Movement by Movement

Ever stared at pages and pages of sheet music, unsure where to begin your practice session? Just as you use your project management skills to complete assignments for school or presentations for work, you can apply these same principles to your rehearsals.

As you assemble your instrument and gather your sheet music, think about what you want to get out of the practice session ahead. Whether you’re determined to master the musical run in the first movement of a piece or perfect measures one through 25 of another piece, the goal you set before each practice session will bring focus and purpose to your rehearsal.

To decide on your goal for a practice session, follow these steps. First, count the number of days until your next music lesson or performance. Second, count the number of measures or movements in the musical composition you’re learning. Third, divide the number of days until your next music lesson or performance by the number of measures or movements in the piece.

The quotient is the number of measures or movements you should commit to learning during each daily rehearsal. For example, if your instructor assigned you a piece complete with 50 measures and your next private music lesson is five days away, strive for learning 10 measures of the piece each day. This measure by measure, movement by movement approach to your rehearsals will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and ensure you are making steady progress.

2. Maintain a Can-Do Spirit

Your mental chatter can make or break a practice session. During your next rehearsal, take stock of whether your thoughts are mostly optimistic or mostly self-deprecating. If you find your thoughts are overly critical of your musical abilities or your performance, replace them.

Instead of “I can’t play this piece,” tell yourself “I can’t play this piece yet, but I’m making solid progress. I’ll get there.”

Rather than “I’ll never be ready for the performance,” tell yourself “I’m not quite ready for the performance right now, but between my practice schedule and my private lessons, I’ll be more than ready for the concert.”

In lieu of “This song is too hard for me,” tell yourself “While this song is difficult to learn, it is not impossible to learn.”

During particularly challenging rehearsals, think back to the first few weeks or months of learning your instrument. Musical pieces and techniques that seemed daunting then are certainly easier now, right? Maintain a can-do spirit, and remind yourself that a piece or a technique that seems daunting now will become easier in the weeks and the months to come.

3. Creativity Is Key in Carving Out Time to Practice

There are only 24 hours in a day. It’s difficult to squeeze in a 30-minute rehearsal or an hour-long practice session into an already-busy day.

Nevertheless, if you are committed to maintaining a consistent practice schedule in 2019, creativity is key. While you’re brainstorming when you’ll carve out the time to practice, think about how you can convert any free time you have into a productive rehearsal.

For example, the next time you’re watching your favorite TV show, mute the commercials. Use this time for a few extra minutes of practice.

4. Same Time, Same Place

While some musicians and performers thrive on switching up their practice schedules by finding different pockets of time each day to rehearse, others prefer a more regular practice schedule. If you fall into the latter category, think about the times of day and the places in your home that are most conducive to a productive practice session.

Would you prefer to rehearse in the morning after breakfast, or would you prefer practicing right after you get home from school or work? Is your homework room or office the best place to practice your instrument? Reflect on the times and the places you’ll be able to have your best rehearsals.

Whether you’re just starting out as an aspiring musician or you’re a seasoned performer, these tips will help you commit to a consistent practice schedule and achieve your music resolutions in 2019.

What are your go-to tips for sustaining a fulfilling rehearsal schedule?