Piano lessons cover practise techniques as well as practise organization. Students new to practise organization and organization in general often have difficulty understanding it. Or some understand the concept, but struggle with implementing it.
And many often don’t understand the tremendous value it creates, and that it’s worth doing even at beginner level. And, in my opinion, especially at beginner level.
So what is Practise Organization?
Very simply put, practise organization is effective workflow management techniques applied to piano practise. And also, applied to daily living. So piano students can fit piano practise into their busy study or work schedules in a relaxed way.
- Divide piano practise into small practise slots.
- Spread these slots out during different times of the day.
- Understand what kind of practise works best for different times slots
Students who start learning how to organize their piano practise effectively will realize three things.
One. Practise organization needs some level of general life organization. And it has a positive impact work-flow in general.
Two. Different times of the day work well with different kinds of practise. And each time-slot will often be super-efficient if the kind of practise is matched well with what the brain does most effectively during that particular time of the day. There’s no fixed rule, because morning-people function differently from night-people. And there are lifestyles, metabolic systems, and working hours that I think, create afternoon-people too.
Three. Breaking up piano practise works better with a practise plan because it’s easy for students to forget things when practise is split. Especially when students first start doing this. The student’s homework for the week, either colour coded or with symbols that indicate the practise slot to be used for each item in the list, can be the practise plan.
Why practise organization is so difficult for some
Many students these days function in fire-fighting mode.
- Some part of this is poor work organization and a cluttered schedule with so many tasks that it’s impossible to actually do anything effectively and without stress.
- Some part, I think, arises from the mental clutter that can come from a creative mind that has many ideas that are wonderful, combined with a skill not yet learned. Which is, the ability to note down ideas to work on later, and focus on the task at hand.
- And some part of this, a result of the sudden move to online life, work and learning. With it’s constant barrage of notifications, pop-ups, advertisements, and distractions. And a very high need for organization that is only visible when it’s gone so bad that it’s overwhelming.
Extremely poor organization skills might also be an indication of ADHD or some condition or neuro-diversity that is prone executive disfunction. I have no formal training in these subjects so will not speak of them in detail.
Here’s an interesting video where Thomas E. Brown, PhD, discusses ADHD diagnosis, ADHD symptoms, available ADHD treatment options, and ADHD medication.
My Practise Organization
I practise at different times of the day, and my piano practise time slots have changed much over the years. My husband’s working hours and the time he gets home have an impact on dinner time, and the time I go to sleep. And this impacts the time I function best.
Dinner is the one meal we eat together, and I have always thought of it as an essential part of creating a family life. Even at times when the late hours got really challenging and stretched me far beyond my comfort level, with timings that were not natural to me.
Work-from-home has given us a chance to reset a busy that was getting too much. So this is my current practise schedule – very different, and much more organized and relaxed, as compared to those pre-covid19 days.
Slot 1 – Mornings between 7am to 8am is my best time for relaxed learning so I use it for new pieces I want to explore. I practise for anything from 15 minutes to an hour.
Slot 2 A – Anytime Post-Breakfast till Lunch. I fit practise in based on my work schedule – 5 minutes at the piano that can stretch to an hour. I use this time to practise pieces I’m teaching my students. Sometimes focusing on one piece. Or running through sections of many pieces.
Slot 2 B – Post-Lunch till Chai Time is another flexible slot. An option for days I’m not teaching when I need my mornings for other tasks.
Slot 3 – Evenings anytime. This usually is just 15 minutes. Post Chai on non-teaching days, and whenever possible on teaching day. It’s reserved for songs I’m learning from my Grandma’s song book. Just a few new bars each day, or a run through of a piece I’ve already learned. Sight-reading, or practising a section, or trying to play a sight-read piece in a different key. It varies. These are pieces I enjoy and learn very slowly as I do so little. Sometimes taking months to learn a full piece by heart. This time makes me happy and keeps me connected to family, I think.
Slot 4 – After Dinner for 15 to 30 minutes. This is the time I play old pieces or anything I feel like. Slow, and by heart where possible. It’s very relaxed practise and helps me unwind before I go to sleep.
Honestly, it’s not much as practise goes, but it’s all I can fit in right now.
Just being able to get back to being the early morning person that I am after so many years, has improved the efficiency of my piano practise. So I’m hopeful.
Maybe someday, I’ll get back to a heavier practise schedule and have the joy of enrolling in piano lessons, and being a student again.
My students sometimes ask me how I organize my day. So, here’s a peek at my mornings these days. The poem that follows lists all of tasks on my morning schedule – all are things that make me happy. It’s lovely having bright sunny days and I’m making the most of it!
A point to note – there’s no cooking (breakfast is too quick and easy to count) on the list 🙂
Mornings for Me
Wake up, do some cleaning, have a cup of chai.
Yoga. Meditation. Then practise a while.
Eat a banana and go for a walk.
Then, daily grocery shopping at the local store.
Put out the garbage, lie down on the floor.
Just a minute of stretches, then breakfast and kitchen chores.
Write in my diary and plan out my day.
A busy that’s relaxed. Life is nice this way.