See a more updated version of this theory: Goal Oriented Guitar Practice (revisited)
I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m not a huge fan of practice schedules. A lot of folks out there think they need absolute structure to their practice time:
10 minutes arpeggios
20 minutes scales
30 minutes etudes
5 minutes checking cell phone
20 minutes repertoire
There’s only question to ask yourself: are you improving? If yes, continue with current practice routine. If no, why? Lack of improvement could be any number of things, but that’s another blog entirely.
I believe that musicians should have a time only schedule. That is, “practice X hours/day.” This leaves a lot up in the air. Some time should certainly allocated to technique. I like to do that right away in the morning, for about a half hour–this is more to prepare my hands for the rest of the day than anything. After that I have a series of small goals to accomplish throughout my practice.
We often have the difficult sections of a given piece marked, or the parts that give us trouble blocked off in our minds. So work on them! Make it a goal for a unit of practice to perfect a small portion and reinsert it back into the context of the piece. I tried writing these goals down in a sort of practice journal, but I work better with the mental list instead. However, a practice journal can be a useful tool.
This allows a lot more flexibility than a strict schedule, and keeps practice interesting. And it works!
What’s your practice routine look like?