Did you make a New Year’s Resolution that involves music? Do you want to practice more, learn a different instrument, or finally bring a new project to life? Even though our creative pursuits are some of the things that make us happiest in life, it can be easy to ignore them when you are dealing with work, school, chores, and other obligations. If you want to keep your musical resolution, or simply increase your commitment to your creative projects, here are eight ways that you can make it happen.
- Designate a special area where you have all of the supplies you need handy. Remove all distractions you can, from blocking unwanted noise to cleaning up any clutter in your home recording studio.
- Schedule a small amount of consistent time each day. Even if you can only spare 20 minutes, that will lead to better results than a 2 hour weekly cram session. In addition, anticipating a small time commitment can remove one of the biggest barriers: Getting started. If you get started each day, planning to work for just 20 minutes, you will most likely end up spending longer on your project and making serious progress.
- Have a plan for your time. Is there a certain piece, project or goal you want to work on? It can help to break out problematic areas to work on them individually, rather than running through the whole song or project over and over. Focusing on the mistakes or issues will allow you to make the most progress, which can be very motivating. Overall, be as deliberate as possible with your practice.
- Practice even when you are not practicing. Use visualization to run through your music in your mind while you are commuting, walking the dog or taking a shower. If you are working on a piece commonly played by other musicians, listen to different versions. You can even record your practice sessions in order to identify areas to focus on.
- Get other people involved. The most obvious form of this is to start a band or join another type of group. Having partners depending on you keeps you accountable and can be a powerful source of motivation (and maybe even some new friendships). If your musical projects are not as conducive to playing in a group, you can still find a way to work with others. For example, DJs and producers can share mixes or train each other on new equipment. For best results, formalize this involvement with regularly scheduled band practices or track-swapping sessions.
- If your practice or recording session is not going well, stop and take a walk around the block. A Stanford University study found that walking can boost inspiration. The study also showed that creative thinking improves while you are walking, and continues to improve shortly after you have finished your stroll.
- Remember that no one is perfect. You will miss a practice session once in a while, but the important thing is that you don’t miss the next one that you have scheduled – consistency is more important than perfection.
- End with your next session in mind. When you are done with a practice or production session, make a list of the goals or issues you want to work on in your next round. It will be easier to get started with a plan waiting for you.
Recording a new album or learning a new instrument might seem impossible to accomplish, but following these eight steps will lead to steady progress, and an amazing feeling of creative satisfaction.