How to Practice Less and Get More Done

How to Practice Less and Get More Done

Ever feel like there’s just so much music to practice?

Or do your students not practice piano?

We’re so hung up on practicing that we forget WHY we practice sometimes– to improve.

That’s why most practicing is a waste of time.

No joke.

I remember when I’d sit at the piano, “practicing” for hours. At one point, my teacher told me that I need to put in at least 5 hours of practice each day. I was a highschool student and I liked staying near the top of my class.

Needless to say, life was stressful and blurry.

Until I found out that most of what I did at the piano was a waste of time if I wanted to polish the piece.

And that’s why I’m telling you, practice less and get more done instead.

Why Practice Less Instead?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you have to work on everything at once… and practice for hours. That’s not true.

(Practicing for hours and hours is one way to damage your muscles.)

Here’s where the jam comes in:

Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia University, set up a free jam tasting booth at an upscale supermarket for a study.

(Upscale because there are so many choices at the ‘market…)

One Saturday, she put out 24 flavours of jam, and another Saturday, she put out 6 flavours of jam.

Guess: when did people buy more jam?

That’s the funny thing– when there were 24 flavours, 60% of people stopped by, but only 3% of those people bought some. When there were 6 flavours, 40% stopped by, and 30% of people bought some.

That’s 600% more buying with FEWER choices. 6 times more sales in the smaller display.

What does that mean? When there are fewer choices, we’re more likely to do something.

And we can use this psychology in our practicing.

How to Practice Less and Get More Done

How to Practice Less and Get More Done

Give yourself fewer choices, and less overwhelm.

When it comes to practicing, less is more.

{click to tweet this}

Narrow down a FEW things you want to work on for every practice and stick to it.

For example, you might want to make a certain passage very fluent. Or sight read one page.

Or even chunk it up and work on one tiny phrase.

Whatever the case, make sure you’re only doing very little.

If your repertoire is 10 pieces, don’t try to cram in practice for all 10 in one day. Your body won’t “buy into” that.

Instead, start small, with one or two pieces. Within those pieces, focus on one or two things.

Maybe later, you’ll find the energy and motivation to keep going after that, but don’t force yourself to sit at the bench for hours.

The Bonus for Practicing Less

When you practice less, you’ll focus on that one thing that’ll get very close to perfect.

And that’s much better than trying to do everything and getting nothing done.

It gets tiring quickly when you’re only focussing on perfecting one thing… but it’s oh-so-very satisfying. And time-saving.

Hello, smart & productive practicing!

(I’ve written about 4 deadliest practice mistakes ever and using muscle memory to practice smarter. Even an ebook on being great without the pain.)

But get started by doing less. I’d love to know…

What’s your favourite practice tip?

Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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