How do you start practicing?
Quite literally, what are your actions as you begin a practice session?
Do you whip the case open, throw your instrument together and hurriedly begin your scales only to stop thirty seconds later when your phone dings with a text message or email notification?
Are you still thinking about what your friend said between classes or that test that didn't go very well?
Maybe you're working your way through all the major keys in a technical exercise, stop, and then can't remember which key you were on (full confession - this is what I struggle with!).
You get the idea - it can be difficult to turn off external and internal distractions, and we all know that there are endless amounts of them.
If we want to have productive and satisfying practice, we have to consider how we begin.
It's not always fun to set boundaries or use discipline to create structure, but if we are willing to do it we feel calmer and more satisfied within ourselves, and less attached to the external validation that distracts us.
Consider the first note you play in a practice session. How do you get there? Most of us immediately place the instrument to our face after we put it together and start blowing. It can take forever to feel like we're warmed up and in the moment, and by then our practice time might be up.
Alternatively, imagine how much more focused, more satisfying, and more productive your practice might be if you don't move instantly from taking your instrument out of it's case to playing scales as fast as possible like a technique maniac.
Taking even a few seconds to focus inward before beginning lets us practice with intention.
Here are some ways you can set the tone for focused practice:
This may look like a lot of steps, but the whole list together takes around 2 - 5 minutes.
By giving yourself the time to quiet the space around you and connect with yourself and your goals, you will save you much more than 5 minutes in distracted practice.
Give it a try - what do you notice as the biggest benefit of intentional practice?