There is no other path to mastery than practice, lots of it, and over a long period of time. However, practicing an instrument is not always as fun as it seems. Sometimes, it can even feel like a chore rather than something you do because you love it; yes, even if you started out very enthusiastic about learning a new instrument and exploring your passion for music.
Does this mean it’s just not cut out for you? Definitely not. Even if practicing your instrument feels like a complete drag right now, it doesn’t mean you should give up. Instead, you should find ways on how you can motivate yourself to practice more, and not just out of a sense of duty.
Here are some tips to help you practice and love your instrument more than ever:
Figure out why you hate practicing
First things first, why do you hate practicing your instrument? If ‘hate’ is too strong of a word to describe what you feel about the practice, then why do you dislike or dread it? Similar to the question of why you wanted to practice your instrument in the first place, there is an answer to why you suddenly hate it.
Is it because practice tires you out? Are you feeling too much pressure from your family or friends? Is your instructor more intimidating than motivating? Are you not progressing as fast as you expected?
Figuring out the reason for your negative feelings about practice can help you fix them and, in turn, make practice less of a chore and more of a fun activity.
For example, if you are not progressing with self-teaching strategies, then maybe you need professional piano lessons to take your skills a little further. Or if you feel too much pressure to keep up with your colleagues, then it might be time to revisit your personal goals and remind yourself that you’re doing this for you.
It is much more effective to practice for half an hour every day than to spend a whole afternoon on the weekend trying to catch up. Not only is that tiring, but you might also not get the results that you want by cramming your practice into a span of a few hours.
Short yet regular practice sessions tend to be more productive than sporadic yet drawn-out ones. Thus, make it a point to spend at least 20 minutes to half an hour on practice every day. It might seem burdensome at first, but 20 minutes go by faster than you think.
Find a good mentor
For many musicians, having a good mentor to guide them is the best kind of motivator. This person can be a family member, a fellow student, a music teacher, or a performer. Find someone that is a master at the instrument you’re playing and is willing to guide you in your own path to mastery.
If you already have a mentor but find their guidance doing more harm than good, there is no shame in finding a new one.
Does practicing for half an hour already sound like a chore to you? That’s okay. Instead of pushing yourself to do it, try taking baby steps. Tune your instrument. Play a few notes instead of a whole song. Practice for five minutes. If you still don’t feel like practicing, put your instrument away and try again later. The only other scenario is that you get motivated enough to continue with your practice session, but don’t beat yourself up if this doesn’t happen.
Perhaps the reason why you dislike practicing is that you go into it with too many thoughts in your head. Perhaps you’re thinking about your last performance, or all of the songs you have to memorize, or maybe the mistakes you keep on making and can’t seem to get over. You may even be preoccupied with non-music related stuff, keeping your mind cluttered and unable to focus properly on the music.
An excellent way to solve this problem is to meditate for at least five to ten minutes before practice. Clear your head from negative thoughts. Re-center. Focus. When you are relaxed and have enough headspace, practice will likely be more creative, productive, and satisfying.
Practicing music should give you positive feelings, relieve your stress, and make you more confident in your skills. But if practicing makes you hate it instead, then it’s high time to recollect yourself and figure out why you’re feeling that way. Dig deep. There is likely a reason why you don’t like practicing your instrument; a reason that will always be fixable.