Blog posts tagged with 'Preparation'

Practising for Grown-ups

 Practising for Grown Ups


Dinner’s on. The kids are entertained. Laundry’s done (as if!) and you have a few free moments for you. So what do you do – do you embrace the few minutes to go and practice… or do you make a brew and loose that free time scrolling through social media posts you’ve probably seen before…. Or do you get settled and get ready to play that first note when someone shouts that they need you….


Even without children added into the mix – practice when you’re a grown up can be difficult. There’s just so much that you need to do as a grown up. Children do generally progress faster than adult learners, but part of this is because they do have a lot less to think, and worry, about.


So how do you manage to practice as a grown up.


Well – sometimes you need to approach it as you would trying to get your son / daughter to practice.


1. Nag.


Only joking!


1. Routine: I know as a grown up this can be tricky at times buttrying to have a designated day and time that you can ring fence as your time can be so beneficial. It’s far too easy to get distracted by phones, odd jobs around the house, work, emails… blah blah blah.


2. Prioritise: You wouldn’t be learning an instrument if music wasn’t important to you. So make it important. Put it in the diary. Try not to let other things sneak into your music time. Make music not just a thing. Make it a Thing.


3. Have fun: You’ll always find more time to practice if it’s enjoyable. So play around with the music, look at other pieces, have a jam, try something by ear…


4. Little and Often: Time can be one of the biggest bug bears for practising as a grown up. So don’t worry about trying to find a good chunk of time. If you can’t – you can’t. Try 10 minute sessions. Before work, while tea’s cooking, a quick 3 minutes every time the adverts come on…. Small sessions can really add up. And if you just spend 10 minutes on two or three bars a couple of times a day… see for yourself what happens.


4. Be prepared: When time’s of the essence and prioritising can be difficult you need to make sure that when you go to practice then you can just go for it. So perhaps try and find a way of keeping the instrument set up and ready if you’re a woodwind player. Have your music on the stand. Know what bars you’re going to concentrate on.


Practice is one of the most rewarding things but you never want it to feel like a chore. Keep it fun, keep it serious and keep it accessible!


Happy practising!


How to Take the Nerves out of Nervous


How to take the Nerves out of Nervous


You’re sat in the waiting room. Your mouth’s gone dry. Legs are shaking. Palms are sweating. You feel sick and dizzy, your mind has gone blank. It can only be… time for your next music exam.


But it doesn’t have to be a horrible experience.


It can be easier said than done *but* nerves can be overcome… or at least they can become less of an issue.


No matter your age or level experience, nerves can really turn an exam into a really terrifying experience. But they don’t need to ruin it completely. I’m not saying you’ll ever really love your exams, and indeed if you really hate them I would ask whether they’re worth putting yourself through the stress. For why you shouldn’t do an exam maybe read this post


But if you’re determined to do exams but the nerves are something you want to tackle then read on!


There’s three things you need to remember about nerves:


Everyone feels nervous (yes they do – it’s not just you!)

Examiners know the difference between nervous mistakes and what’s just wrong

The worst thing that will happen is that you’ll feel nervous


For me I find exams a really nervous time – even when I’m just accompanying. But I do have quite a nervous disposition, so I find supermarkets at Christmas a stressful situation!


Being prepared can really help anxiety on the day. Don’t leave your scales to the last minute. Don’t just practice the aural with your teacher (find extra examples on youtube etc) and don’t neglect your sight-reading practice either.


Also embrace the fact that it won’t be perfect. You won’t get full marks in everything – it’s just not possible. There will always be more you could do on dynamics and articulation, the intonation can often be stronger… so don’t put the pressure on doing amazingly well. Just do your best – and that will be more than good enough.


There will always be an annoying bar or phrase, or even piece, that’s not quite as good as the rest. That’s fine. Over prepare on everything else and relax on the bit you’re not sure about – you might just surprise yourself.




Deep breaths. Slow and steady. Breathing really can help calm nerves, or at least help your body regain a bit of control. Breathing too fast will only raise your level of anxiety, so do try slower breaths and take a moment before you start to play your first piece and in between the sections on your exam.


Embrace the nervous feeling.


The worst that will happen is that you will feel nervous.


You might feel sick, but you won’t be. You might be dizzy, but you won’t faint. Small sips of water will help your dry mouth, your hands won’t slip off the keys – but maybe just wipe them before you go in.


That’s all.




Embrace them.


It’s all just part of a performance. I would be more nervous if I wasn’t nervous (as weird as that sounds).


And you know what – the exam will be over in the blink of an eye and you will be wondering what you were so nervous about in the first place.