Freeway Music — Columbia, SC’s Premier Music School

Gaining Inspiration for Practice

by Drew Medlin

I’m excited for everyone to read my first blog entry. I’m going to talk about something that seems to plague all students, new, and old: Practice! I’m not going to rant about the proper steps to take when practicing, but rather how to get the inspiration to practice. Something I see a lot as a teacher is that new students start off great and fall off as they get going (not all of them, but some). Another problem is that veteran students go through waves of consistency and inconsistency. This blog post is for all of you.

What Got You Started

If you are a beginner on an instrument or you’ve been playing for 30 years, we all have moments of consistency and inconsistency. The hardest challenge of learning any trade or skill is dealing with how to be consistent. There are several things you can do to help your motivation. One is to think about what made you play in the first place. Did you take lessons because you wanted to sing your favorite song? Did you start lessons because you wanted to shred the guitar? Did you start lessons because you just wanted to finally try something new? It doesn’t matter, as long as you’re aware of why you started and if you have tried hard enough.

Get Your Shots

One thing I suggest to any student who needs inspiration is to go watch someone that inspires you. This “shot in the arm” is crucial to anyone because seeing someone do what you wish you could do is the ultimate motivation to practice. For most students, this inspiration is what made you start an instrument in the first place. You can do this by simply going on you-tube or by going out to see live music or going to see your favorite musician in concert. These things always get my practice juices flowing.
This process of seeking out what inspires you is so important because it forces you to self-evaluate. When watching or listening to something that inspires you, many things happen. First, you’re inspired. Second, you begin to ask, “how do I get there.?” Third, you begin to feel excited enough to try it. Fourth, you actually do it! This process always helps me get off my butt and practice.

Pressure Makes A Diamond

Another suggestion for practice motivation is a deadline. Our student showcases always bring out the best practice from students because they have to get it done by a certain day. Some students start practicing months before the showcase and chip away at it everyday. Others wait until the last minute and begin practicing furiously for about 2 weeks before and always pull it off. This may not work for some people, but it does for a lot of people. I seem to fall in the middle of this. I work well when there is a deadline, but sometimes I wait until the last minute and burn the midnight oil to meet a deadline.

It’s Who You Know

The last thing I would suggest to help fuel consistent practice is to surround yourself with people who are better. This is hard for a lot of people, but it works! The best way to be motivated is to be confronted often with what you need to improve. Forcing yourself to play and take advice from people who are better than you is always good. It may not feel that way at first, but the more you listen and see what this person does that’s better than you, the faster it rubs off on you and ultimately effects your practice and motivation to practice. This situation seems to be the best for more advanced players, because you have to react and force yourself to step your game up.

I hope these suggestions help all of our students. Seek out what you love, understand why you love it, and seek out who has mastered it and you will be able to do it. No one became great by thinking about being great. They became great by working towards greatness.

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