Want to practice more? Write it down!

How do I get my kids to practice piano?

How do I motivate myself to practice?

These are questions we hear a lot! Like most tasks, practicing doesn’t just “happen”, it takes a plan.

Building consistent practice habits over time takes a good plan, and sometimes a little help. Whether you are an adult student looking to hone your chops or a parent looking for some help motivating your child, the best place to start when it comes to building a practice plan is simple.

Write. It. Down.

You can keep a journal or a notebook, or use a digital calendar or reminder app. It doesn’t matter where or how, just choose a method that works for you and/or your family.

Decide in advance which days are going to be the best options for practice, keeping in mind, consistency is often more valuable than quantity. 20 minutes a day, five consistent days a week will net more results than a 90 minute cram session the day before a lesson. Once you’ve mapped out the practice plan, write out those goals, and if you need some motivation, build in some rewards.

Once you’ve made your plan, the next step is to document. Whenever you practice, mark it down in your notebook, calendar, app, chart, whatever works for you. Be honest! Even if you only practice for 10 minutes,it’s better than nothing, so own it! Weekly lessons are a great opportunity for accountability and evaluating what is working (or isn’t) with your practice routine, so share your record with your teacher.

We are sharing some of our favorite tools for staying accountable with your music below. We’d love to hear your responses about what has worked for you in building your best practice habits!

For the developing musician who wants to seriously focus on bringing their skills to the next level, The Musician’s Way by guitarist and author Gerald Klickstein is a tremendous resource. The book and the companion website are full of both practical and inspiring advice about how to grow as an expressive musician through mindful practice. There is also a fantastic page of downloadable resources for creating a practice plan and assessing your progress. This is a must read for those preparing for a college audition or a professional career!

For the tech-savvy family looking to stay connected and accountable, the Family Tech group of apps, including Chore Monster (for kids) and Landra (for teens) allows parents and kids to set tasks and assign rewards for consistent habits. Although designed for chores and allowance tasks, these apps work well for setting weekly practice goals, and it teaches accountability as kids and teens track and report their own accomplishments.

If you just want to keep it simple and low tech, one of the handiest tools is still the tried and true Practice Log. Each week you take it to your lesson, set the goals for the week, make notes and then mark down your practice for the week. If you’re lucky, you might even get a sticker when you make your goals! One of our favorites fits in most instrument cases and is easy on the budget, My Practice Record. If you want a little more room to write notes or some guidance for structuring your practice, check out Alfred’s Basic Lesson Assignment & Daily Practice Record.

No matter what method you use, writing down your weekly goals and tracking your practice is a great way to work towards success as a musician!