Practice anxiety: Tool #11

Braving the elements to go out and practice somewhere that's not your bedroom can nevertheless be well worth it. Photo from Horn Blog.

Braving the elements to go out and practice somewhere that’s not your bedroom can nevertheless be well worth it. Photo from Horn Blog.

Go practice somewhere else + 2 extra tips

Why? If you’re like me and do a lot of your practice at home, you’ll know the struggle that is a gazillion competing distractions (internet, comfy couch, books, long to-do list, snack grazing…) that present you with many options for NOT practicing. On the other hand, when you step into a practice room somewhere else you have one purpose in mind. Granted we’ve all had those times in conservatoire practice rooms where you’re scrolling on your phone and decidedly not practicing, but it’s far clearer that you’re not doing the thing that you’re there to do.

What? So, if there is any possibility for you to practice somewhere that is not your bedroom, jump at the chance! Can you ask your music teacher if you can get special permission to turn up at the music block an hour before school (or stay an hour after) to practice? Chances are there’ll be ensemble rehearsals on anyway and you can occupy one of the practice rooms. If you’re studying music at uni, get up early and snag a practice room before the rush. It feels so good to knock some basic tech practice over early in the day. Book practice rooms during busier times. Or is there some other options available to you – rooms available at a local studio that you can book for a suitably low rate? Can you join up with some friends and rent out a small warehouse space and make a practice schedule between you? Think outside of musicians, practicing amongst other kinds of artworks can be very stimulating! Some libraries have practice rooms you can book. Is there a church in your local area that will allow you to practice there in return for maybe playing at their weekend services? Take advantage of resonant spaces – they make you want to practice more (I spent last week practicing in a ballroom and it was AMAZING)! Or if you work an office job, see if you can get access to turn up before anyone else arrives to do your scales before knock on – I used to do this when I worked as an arts administrator. Just some ideas…

Extra tip #1: Practicing somewhere else works especially well if you can only book the space for a certain time – it adds pressure that means you’ll want to make the most of the space while you have it. Think carefully about when you book practice time and note it in your diary. Treat it like a job – turn up and put in the hours you promise yourself (but don’t push yourself in the case of illness, exhaustion or injury, know when to be forgiving of yourself).

Extra tip #2: If you are overcome by the desire to check your phone or you get a call, try stepping outside of the practice room. Be disciplined – the practice room is for practice. Set a practice timer and pause it while you attend to the distraction. Or set your phone on airplane mode while you’re practicing!

This practice anxiety tool is fairly hardline, and is useful for getting or keeping you on track when you’re not struggling too much. For more practice anxiety tools that encompass moments of real struggle, click here.