Life is short, so I’ll hop to the point: I’m writing today to remind you that you have permission to shape your music-making to fit your lifestyle — whatever that means for you:
Between your demanding cray-cray work schedule. Your ridiculous commute. Your conference paper presentation. Your sacred family time. Taking your cat to the vet. Sweating for the 5k. Throwing a huge anniversary party for your parents. Going to Mass. So that fo’ sure you catch the 5th season of Poldark on the BBC.
It’s no secret that finding the time to practice can be harder than actually doing it. And, of course, you have to show up and trust in the power of your music— yeah, even when you’d rather be cleaning slug-infested leaves out of your gutters and you have a ‘to-do’ list like BoJo.
The reality for most of us is that unless you are lucky enough to be a full-time music student, (oh, the luxury!) it’s probably going to be rare that you will have the space to do endless hours of practice each day. Though, I could be wrong– and if so, you can stop reading at this point and go back to your 4th hour of double tonguing.
Please let me make you feel better about the practice time issues you might be facing because you should know that even professionals have this issue, too. Allow me candidly share the reality of what my practice schedule looks like for me, a flautist who has 64 students on my books, is a mother to a tantrum-prone toddler, has 4 upcoming recitals, 3 more Boho Flute Retreats to run this season, 2 recordings looming, and this very newsletter to finish– oh and a cup of reheated tea I forgot to pull out of the microwave.
Check it out, folks:
On a glorious, lucky day I can squeeze out 2 blissful uninterrupted hours—but only if I don’t have a full teaching morning and childcare help (this is raaaaare, so let’s move on shall we?).
If I have a full teaching schedule it might look like 45 minutes snatched between multiple students, and then another 35 when the hubby takes our dog and baby on a walk. Maybe I can get another hour after my kid has gone to bed (if I am quiet and play gentle tunes).
Days where there is a full teaching schedule with no feasible playing breaks I might be able to squeeze in 45 ‘use it or lose it’ minutes when my baby is getting bathed and ready for bed in the evening. And then 6-8 mins while the pasta boils that I need to rustle up for dinner. And that’s it.
I have to find (read: grab! steal! snatch! sneak! barter!) my practice time in whatever chunks I can find. I use those minutes like gold and have intense, powerful and highly-focussed practice sessions this way.
It’s my reality at the moment, and I admit it’s not always ideal; yet I do manage to play everyday and achieve what I need to get done.
I am firmly in the camp that if all you have is a precious 5 minutes, then oodles of little miracles can happen in these quick minutes of intensity. (Five free minutes are a GIFT, in my opinion!)
Waiting for your spouse to get ready? Go play! Your teenager looking for his lost shoe? Go play! Is the kettle waiting to boil? Go play! Are you on hold on the phone with the bakery that lost your cake order? Go play! Waiting for your cheese on toast to be bubbly under the grill? Go play! Waiting for Netflix to load Good Girls?
Sure, making music is sexy. But making music in your hectic day-to-day life when there’s a million things grabbing your attention is even sexier.
Power to the flippin’ busy musicians out there making practice happen, despite the chaos of life (even if it’s for only 5 mins today!)