Balancing Life and Practice Time
I find that the older I get, the harder it is to really set aside quality time for practice.
I have a 3 year old, a wife, career in marketing, and my passion in music is as equally important as taking care of my family. Honing my craft is a top priority for me.
Through my experience on how to balance everything, I’ve found that it’s important to stick with learning concepts. For instance, learning a chord progression in all 12 keys is more productive than trying to memorize 500 songs. I struggle to retain music. One might argue that I haven’t practiced the song enough so that it becomes a part of me. I then run into the problem of having enough time to get a bunch of songs in my system so that I don’t even think about them. If I learn concepts, I can apply those things to any song and it makes my ability to pick up songs a lot quicker and easier. I’m really starting to understand that being an expert at a couple of things is much better than being mediocre at a bunch of things. Safe to say, I still have a long way to go.
With all of my years of playing though, I recommend that you just practice in chunks. Take one concept, and play it until it’s instinctive. Stop trying to go over a bunch of things that you won’t retain. You will end up feeling overwhelmed and stuck. If it takes you 6 months to perfect 1 concept, then that is the time it takes. You will actually be able to see yourself grow. I’ve grown more in 1 year than in 5 with this new method.
Most nights I get 30 to 45 minutes to play and I try to make it as productive as possible. Focusing on 1 thing at a time has been so much better and I don’t feel the pressure to go over a bunch of material. If I’m learning a progression in a new key, I stick with that one key for the whole 45 minutes. I then can focus on a new key the next day, but I stay focused on 1 concept.
I hope this helps someone out there struggling to grow or who is feeling overwhelmed on what to practice.