Enforcing good habits in harmonica practice

Photo by Mark Seton. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Photo by Mark Seton. Licensed under Creative Commons.

The reason I stopped taking guitar lessons as a teenager is simple. My practice schedule wasn’t just poor; it was non-existent. And when your parents are paying good money for your lessons, there comes a time when they feel they’re just pouring cash down the proverbial drain.

As a harmonica player, my practice schedule runs the gamut, all dependent on my mood and what else is going on in my life. For awhile last year, I actually put “harmonica practice” into my calendar for 11:30 am every single day. It helped. I practiced more (not always at 11:30), but eventually I took it out of my calendar when things got hectic. I started to see too many “harmonica practice” notifications fly by without actually playing.

Instead of committing to those practice sessions, I opted to take away the notifications causing me guilt. And just like that, I set in for months of poor practice habits (yet again).

I may have mentioned before that I bought my first harmonica in the summer of 2011. For the first month, I played a lot, but it was always Oh Susanna over and over and over again. I learned from tablature, and although I played frequently, it took me a month to commit the song to memory.

For the last 18 months, I’ve taken (sometimes sporadic) lessons with Carlos del Junco over Skype, and my practice habits have sometimes been excellent and sometimes non-existent. Now I’m trying again to enforce good practice habits; and one suggestion Carlos recently made appears to be helping.

If you’re struggling to get good practice habits on whatever your musical instrument of choice is, maybe it will help you, too.

Set a timer for 15 minutes. During that 15 minutes, focus on practice — whatever it is you’re practicing. I did it today, and I was surprised how quickly the 15 minutes flew by.

Putting “harmonica practice” back into my calendar has also helped greatly this week. I live and die by Google Calendar.

Categorised in: Blues Harmonica, Guitar, Music

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