Updated: May 23
If you want to get better at any musical endeavor, whether it's playing an instrument or singing, songwriting or music production, it is essential to practice consistently in order to see improvement.
This means that you will have to build a regular practice habit so that you can experience consistent, long term improvement at your craft.
Here are some tips to help you get started with building a practice habit.
1. Start With a Short Amount of Practice Time
By giving yourself a low barrier to entry (like committing to 5 or 10 minutes of practice time to start), you'll be more likely to stick with the habit. Once the habit is established, then the amount of practice time can be increased.
2. Have Your Instrument and Practice Material Out and Ready to Go
In James Clear's book Atomic Habits, he talks about how important setting up your environment for success is when building habits. One of the examples he offers is to place your guitar on a stand in the middle of the room, if you're wanting to practice more often. Having your instrument within reach (or at least not obstructed, if you play piano or drums) will make the transition time from not practicing to practicing much shorter.
I would extend this to your other practice material as well, like a pen or pencil, a metronome, a tuner, a notebook, sheet music, recordings, etc. Have everything you need in a place where it's easy to access so you can easily jump right into your practice session.
3. Keep a Practice Journal
Have a notebook where you can write down the date of your practice session as well as what you worked on. Seeing how many days you've practiced, especially if you have a good streak going, can be really encouraging and can inspire you to want to keep the chain going.
Alternatively, you can use a calendar where you can mark each day you practice with an X, or you can use an app like Chains to help you build your practice habit.
4. Plan Your Practice Material Ahead of Time
Knowing exactly what you will be working on can help keep you from procrastinating. Many practice opportunities have been lost due to decision fatigue, so make it easy for yourself to sit down and get right to work.
5. Don't Let One Missed Day Derail You
It's important to learn how to bounce back from a missed day of practice (or missed days). As much as you may want to practice every single day, sometimes something will get in the way and prevent you from getting in your practice time. Don't beat yourself up, just get back into it as soon as you can and keep going. The most important thing is to stay consistent over the long term.