Wow, 4 months since my last blog post, where did that go!?
I want to talk about something I’ve been trying recently that has turned out to be incredibly helpful in my practice routine. I first heard about the idea from saxophonist Bob Reynolds in his Vlog which you can see here. However the idea originates from writer and artist Austin Kleon whose other fantastic work I’ve discovered as a result of this. The idea is to set yourself a 30-day challenge, that is to do something, anything you choose, every day for 30 days. By using Austin’s template, or just a calendar if you want to, you put a cross in the box for each day you do the task you’ve set yourself. It sounds very simple but it’s surprisingly effective at boosting productivity. Especially for inveterate procrastinators such as myself!
I set myself the goal of doing a few different ear training and rhythm exercises for a total of 45 minutes each day. It doesn’t need to be a huge undertaking. In fact I would imagine any more than an hour could be counter-productive. After a few days the chain starts to build and you’ll want to keep it building more and more. On a few occasions I feel sure I would have just put off the practice until tomorrow after getting home late from a gig or simply having a thousand other things to do but I powered through it because I didn’t want to break the chain!
It also forced me to be a bit more organised as I had to plan when and where I would do the work in order to fit in in to my often busy schedule. Sometimes I would do 15 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon etc.
It’s probably worth mentioning that you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself when the chain does eventually break, which it inevitably will. I managed 37 days before I missed a day simply because I was super-busy. And that’s ok! I had a rest from it for couple of days, changed up what I was practicing a little and now I’m back to it.
Having something you do everyday, even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes, I’ve found can be incredibly beneficial even if it’s not directly related to your overall goal. Give it a go!