Conquer Your Practicing Procrastination: Planning and Scheduling Your Music Learning

Music Practicing PlannerAre you a procrastinator like I am? It’s not that I don’t think ahead or try to make practicing for my next gig a priority. In fact, the more I think about how important it is for me to get to work on learning the music, the less inclined I become to sit down and actually begin the job. I definitely see myself in Robert Benchley’s famous aphorism: “Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment.”

How might you go about just getting started so that you can build some momentum toward your musical goals? Having a plan and a schedule will help keep the work happening, even on days when your willpower or motivation droops. But even then it’s still pretty easy to blow off a practicing session. How, then, can you make a practice schedule that you are likely to stick to?

Baby Steps

Part of becoming consistent in following through with your plans is making the plans easy to implement. To do this, first we break down our goals for the practice session. Which one of the following practice plans is more likely to get done?

Time Plan
9:00am – 12:00pm Practice Audition Music


Deadline Goal
By 10:00am Be able to play the 1st theme of the Mendelssohn 2nd mvt.
By 11:00am Record Miles Davis transcription & evaluate your performance
By 12:00am Be able to play the passagework in the Brahms at quarter = 72

This is a good start. You can also add a reward, like “If I finish a goal early, I get to take a break and watch YouTube videos until the goal deadline time.”

Refine Your Planning Skills

Make a plan for your next practice sessionIn the next post, I shall go more into depth on how to reward yourself for accomplishing goals, and how to plan effectively and execute your plans consistently.

In the meantime, take a moment to try breaking your next scheduled practice time into blocks with specific goals. You may find that you are bad at estimating how long each goal will take to accomplish. You may also discover at first that you actually get less done than when you didn’t plan out your goals! Don’t worry though. Your planning skills will improve with practice.

Let me know your experiences. Did you accomplish your goals in the allotted time? Were your goals too vague or too ambitious? Did your practice productivity go up or down?

Robert Kelley

About Robert Kelley

Robert Kelley is a music theorist, composer, pianist, harpsichordist, and Associate Professor of Music at Lander University, in Greenwood, South Carolina.
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