Benjamin Coy

Trombonist

Balancing practice priorities

April 29, 2015 at 2:59 pm

I previously posted about the compact form I use to log my practice in place of a free-form journal. The purpose of this form is to promote efficient notes about my practice without needing to invest a lot of time writing when I should be practicing. I designed this form based on my normal schedule, in which the bulk of my practice time is spent preparing for one major audition or performance, while any other concerts can be worked out with a negligible amount of time that fits in between my guiding practice priorities. There are certain times of the year, however, when my calendar gets busy, and my practice plan can’t be that simple.

When preparing for multiple events, a strategic plan becomes even more important. Focusing too much on any one event will result in poor performance at the others. It is vital to develop a long-term strategy to make sure each event gets sufficient preparation.

For each week, I make a general chart of the calendar, assuming there are basically three opportunities in a day for dedicated practice time. I start with my scheduled rehearsals and concerts, leaving time to rest before performances so that I can still do my job well. After allocating sessions for routines and fundamentals, I am able to see how much time I have available to work on repertoire. Here’s an example of what a week could look like (though not in any way a recommendation).

week_partial

There are eight practice sessions available in this week for working on repertoire. Currently, I’m working toward an audition and a concerto performance. The audition is first, so I’ll weight the practice sessions a little bit in that direction, while still giving quality time to both priorities.

week_complete

In the back of the binder I use to keep my practice music organized, I have a stack of these; one per week. I print them out on standard letter-size paper so that I have enough room to leave white space under each practice session to take notes on what I did and where I had problems. Basically, this serves the purpose of 7 of my little forms on one piece of paper, with the added benefit of providing a disciplined structure for when I work on which repertoire.

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