Here are some thoughts on how to make sure you get the most out of your practice session by becoming clear about your intentions and what it is that you want: practice or make music? Satisfy your inner ‘technician’ or your inner ‘singer/artist’?
Vary practice sessions with making music
This is how I like to think about it: singers have a split personality of some sorts!
There is a singer or an ‘artist’ in us, that wants to sing and make music because we have something to express, because it makes us feel good, because we love music, and so on. There is also another part in us – let’s call it the ‘technician’. The technician wants to practice, learn new skills and develop. It is focused on details like technique, sound, timing, intonation, and so on. These two parts need to co-exist, but they cannot be equally present all the time. Can you identify yourself in the “split personality description” of inner artist versus inner technician?
We need to make sure to satisfy the needs of both the inner ‘artist’ and the inner ‘technician’. This is why I find it important to vary practice sessions with making music.
Do you want to practice or make music?
A common reason for ineffective practice, next to not having clear enough goals, is mixing the desire to practice with the desire to make music.
It might help to make a deal with yourself, and choose to say either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to practice. Being focused when you practice means saying ‘yes’ to practice, and telling the ‘singer inside ourselves’ that it needs to step aside and allow the ‘technician’ to operate for a while.
On the other hand, give yourself permission to sometimes say a clear ‘no’ to practice. Saying ‘no’ to practice means you allow yourself to sing and make music without focusing on technique or other details. It means singing songs because you feel like singing, singing for the sake of expression. Saying ‘no’ to practice means telling the ‘technician’ inside ourselves that it has to step to the side for a while.
Yes? No? …Maybe??
Also, be aware that you sometimes might actually be saying ‘maybe’ to practice. It might happen more often than you think. ‘Maybe’ is when you are not quite clear about our intentions. It is an in-between state where a part of you ‘just wants to sing’, and a part of you wants to practice. ‘Maybe’ results in an unhappy singer, an unhappy ‘technician’, and ineffective practice.
So satisfy your inner ‘technician’ with focused practice, and make your inner singer happy by making music and regularly singing your heart out!