By Cari Cole
The great thing about being a musician is that no matter where you are in your career, you could always be better. You can always up your game. If you’ve plateaued a bit and want to hit refresh, wouldn’t it be cool take it to a whole ‘nother level? Why not! It could be the very thing that reinvents you ;). If you want to see what you’re capable of right now, then commit to do it every day for awhile. Even if you’ve been a musician for years, you can always hit that next level with recommitting to a strong daily practice.
Take Lady Gaga for example. A few years ago, she decided to up her game. So she hired a vocal coach and worked with her every day for 6 months. Every day. She was preparing to sing Sound of Music” at the Oscars and she wanted to sound amazing. And she did. She upped her game and blew everyone away. BLEW us away.
Practice works. It’s just not so fun, especially at first. It’s kinda like going to the gym, or getting back on a healthier diet after the holidays when you’re used to eating carbs…
Here are my Top Tips for How to Build a Strong Daily Practice
1. Visualize What You Want.
Visualize what you want from your practice… a stronger voice on stage that people notice, better musicianship, agility, strength etc. Make a list of everything you want to experience. Everything. Write it down. Then practice hard for 6 months. Revisit your list ;).
2. Trick Yourself Into Practicing.
Start with 10 minutes a day. Make it simple, not hard. You can find 10 minutes. Do that for 2 weeks, even 3 or 4 if this is hard for you.
You have to start small, just get in motion. The more you do it, the more you’ll want to.
Increase to 20 minutes a day for another 2 weeks, then 30 minutes, then 1 hour of practice.
3. Find the Perfect Time.
Finding the right time is critical. It all depends on your schedule and your personality.
When I was going to music school and waitressing, I found that getting my vocal technique done at the start of the day before I left the house was the most successful time. And then I could feel good all day that I had done my practice. That worked then.
Now, I’m getting ready for a private concert in April, that I want to up my game for. Mornings aren’t good for my schedule now when I prefer to work out and work on business. So I’m going to try late morning once I’ve gotten that stuff out of the way. Right before lunch – and then my reward will be lunch.
Play with it until it fits your life and schedule and is sitting in just the right place. It helps.
4. Make it Non-Negotiable.
Whatever you do, whether you’re doing 10 minutes or 60 minutes, make it non-negotiable. Like showering or brushing your teeth, make it something you do every day. 5 days a week. Non-negotiable. If you miss a day, you have to make it up. Be your own boss!
5. Wean Yourself From Social Media.
It’s amazing how much time people spend on social media. Pull yourself away. Set a timer – seriously. An hour can go by in a flash. What other time wasters to you need to wean yourself from? What’s more important, your musical prowess or your social media status? Puts things in perspective huh!
6. Devotion vs. Discipline.
Luciano Pavarotti the famous tenor, said he treated his vocalises as a devotion not a discipline. I’ve grabbed onto that thought, and it helps me to enjoy it more.
“People think I’m disciplined. It is not discipline. It is devotion. There is a great difference.”
7. Say “No,” Put Blinders On.
Having a strong music practice takes time and attention and often that means saying no to other things that can pull you away. Family members, friends, social occasions etc. Don’t be afraid to say “no” and put yourself and your music first.