Just because lockdown is drawing to a close, it doesn’t mean that your time learning a new instrument has to.
Whilst the worldwide lockdown has inevitably led to the end of life as we knew it, it has also enabled people’s most imaginative and creative side to emerge.
With countless festivals, concerts and new releases postponed by the pandemic, the silver lining was that for the first time people across the globe were able to take up the hobbies that they otherwise had no time for.
From home-workouts to painting, baking to gardening, a whole array of new past-times emerged during time away from the office. However, none was more common than the decision to learn a new instrument.
Now, with the lockdown coming to its end and regular life gradually beginning to remerge, many are left wondering how exactly to maintain their practice as life goes back to normal.
If you fall into this category, take a glance at the tips below to help juggle everyday priorities alongside a newfound passion!
1. Set a Schedule
Once back to your normal daily routine, the first thing that will hit home will be the sudden lack of time to pursue what you previously had unlimited hours for.
In the same way that you have wake up at a specific time on a daily basis, set yourself a strict routine with your time off too.
You’d be surprised at how many renowned guitarists spend a relatively short time practising their instrument regularly and still see impressive results. Megadeth’s lead guitarist, Kiko Loureiro, for example, practises for merely one hour per day as part of his routine, alternating different techniques that he wants to work on.
So, if you’re serious about learning an instrument, you’ll need to take it just as seriously as you would for any other commitment. Find a specific time that suits you and devote yourself to it! You’ll be surprised, just one hour of focused practise a day will give you severely better progress than five hours of half-minded practise a month!
2. Prioritise What Works Best For You
Just because you’re scheduling your practice, it doesn’t mean that working towards your goal has to be challenging. Keep in mind that, regardless of what anyone tells you, there is no right or wrong way to learn a new instrument.
If you find it difficult to stay motivated and follow your schedule, chances are, you have probably lost enthusiasm somewhere down the line. Take a quick glimpse at what you enjoy about your instrument, what techniques are your strongest and what you immediately play when you first pick it up.
Simply analysing what your habits are will allow you to cater your practice specifically into what you will most enjoy and, inevitably, develop from.
If you don’t like theory, don’t make your limited time revolve around learning it! If you hate learning chords, try learning to play a section from your favourite song instead. Nobody is forcing you to learn, so teach yourself in a way that you’re bound to enjoy (and, therefore, stick to) and you’ll see results in next to no time.
3. Be firm with yourself
As with starting anything new, it can be all too easy to make excuses. Whether it is knowingly deceiving yourself, saying that you’ll skip practice ‘just this one time’, or convincing yourself that you just can’t find a moment spare, you need to be completely and brutally honest with yourself.
Once you catch yourself trying to talk your way out of a practice session, acknowledge that the only thing truly standing in your way is your mindset. Everyone can find an hour spare a day, and if you are determined to be an exception, question why exactly you want to avoid it.
Whether you’ve gotten yourself into a rut or simply lack confidence, if you force yourself to power through with your schedule, you’ll see yourself quickly surpassing those around you who choose to make excuses.
4. Remind Yourself Why You First Started
Whilst incredibly rewarding, learning an instrument can also be one of the most mentally-challenging things to put your mind to.
As time goes on, you’ll realise just how much there is to know about an instrument- from how many ways there are to play the same chord to, more generally, how much skill is involved in taking your playing to the next level.
Just because more challenges seem to arise as you progress, that doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative thing. As you face these challenges, remind yourself why exactly you first started learning.
Look back at musicians who inspired you as a kid, songs made you want to pick up an instrument and live performances that always stuck with you! Simply revisiting the music that made you passionate is vital in reconnecting you with your motivation and helping you surpass your goals.
5. Be Patient
Finally, like mentioned before, once little aspects of your normal, day-to-day routine begin to fall back into place, it can be challenging to convince yourself to overcome obstacles that arise.
At times it can seem daunting to persevere when your progress starts to slow down, but the most important thing to do is to be patient and forgiving to yourself. After all, if it was easy to excel at playing an instrument, everybody will have already done so.
Keep in mind that you are trying to force your mind into learning a new skill and that it takes time. You are quite literally manipulating your hands into shapes that you are unfamiliar with and trying to maintain rhythm simultaneously.
No matter how long it takes you to learn, always remember that, regardless of how difficult it may feel, it can always be done if you’re willing to be consistent and put time into it. Just look at musicians such as John Frusciante and Walter Trout- two incredibly well-renowned guitarists who retaught themselves from scratch quite late on in their lives.
Once you realise that no matter how long it takes, it can always be done, you’ll eventually find yourself becoming more forgiving about your progress and, therefore, be able to stick with your practice for sufficiently longer than you would by constantly putting yourself down.
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