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Task Oriented Practice Schedules

One of the benefits of goal oriented guitar practice is that is builds in motivation to practice the next day. The notations made in your practice log supply a never ending stream of daily goals.

Previously, the suggestion was for you to spend (insert number) minutes on each goal. I’ve been thinking on this lately, and there’s another way.

Efficiency

As I explained in the most recent CG Blog Newsletter, effeciency is vital in the practice room. And one of the most effective ways to be efficient is to manage repetition.

A good way to manage reptition is to set limits. Decide to only practice a given passage (insert number) of times.

This is the heart of task oriented practice schedules.

Make a To-Do List

When practicing, keep a pencil and pad of paper near by. Write down stuff that you feel will help work out problems in the next practice session. Those tasks become your daily goals–things to accomplish next time.

Making a task oriented practice schedule revolves around dealing with those tasks and managing their repetition in such as way that you (1) get better and (2) don’t spend all day practicing — there are other things to do.

To that end, your task oriented practice schedule should resemble a to do list.

  • Practice measure 4 thru 6, with rhythmic alteration, 7 times
  • Run measure 8 seven times very slow
  • etc.

Notice that each thing on the to do list includes three things:

  1. A specific portion of a piece to practice — getting things done in the practice room is about zeroing in on small sections
  2. A specific practice method or idea — slow practice, rhythmic alteration, slow/fast alternation, chaining
  3. A repetition limit

After working through each practice item on your list, it’s time to stop, or, if you have more time, you could try other practice methods or repeating the list.

Notice that no time limits are mentioned anywhere in this article. They aren’t needed. This sort of method is a great way to spice up your practice schedule if you find yourself watching the clock.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. 2010 July 2
    Chris permalink

    Christopher,

    Your insights into practice scheduling and the inner mechanics of practicing are wonderful. I have found that this very topic is one of the hardest things for me to get a good grasp of. I am mostly self taught and have a great deal of information about what to do but not so much about how to do it and put it together into a workable routine, which is pretty fundamental to improving (I believe).

    Many thanks.

  2. 2010 September 8

    I agree. A good practice schedule will make everything so much easier, and it also makes it very easy to track progress.

    Instead of repetitions though, I usually tell my students to time themselves, with the amount of time spent on something depending on how difficult the passage is, and how large a tempo the student can play it at.

    Usually no longer than 5 minutes on one specific thing.

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