Yep, I’m talking about you. I’m here to once and for all put the problem out there and help you get to the bottom of it. Do you see your private teacher every single week only to leave your lessons thinking “Well, that was embarrassing. For sure I’ll be ready next week.” Is it getting old to come up with new excuses? If this is you, welcome to the club. A lot of your friends do it. College students do it. I did it at some point between 14 and 16…and then some. The thing is, yes it is common, but there is a point where its important to buckle down and fix it. Let’s break it down.
1. Yes, you play trumpet, but you also run track, lead the student council, have a part-time job at your mom’s business and have so much homework you basically mutter algebra in your sleep, not to mention you want a social life.
If you fit in this group take out some paper and pencil, or your iPad, and get ready to jot down your activities. What you need to do is simply learn to prioritize your life. After having all your activities written down, take out the ones that you HAVE to do no matter what, such as homework and eating. Now what’s left should be things that you do by choice, either because you think it’s fun or because it’s going to prepare you for your future, such as band, robotics club and the National Honors Society. Next comes time management and filtering what’s most and least important. For example, if you want to be a baseball player when you grow up, then baseball practice with your dad or private coach might be the most important thing to you, so you should dedicate more time to that than other activities. If you want to be a professional trumpet player, you should take time away from playing video games and spend it on trumpet. Your future self will thank you. Now, sometimes your life will be so jam-packed that you might need to quit doing something. THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU’RE A QUITTER. It just means you’re learning how to manage your time. Talk to your parents and see what their thoughts are.
2. You like playing trumpet, but your teacher dreams of you becoming the next Louis Armstrong …and you don’t.
Let’s be real here, most pre-college trumpet players do not end up playing trumpet for a living. You do it because marching band, band trips and concerts are super fun. Not to mention all your friends are in band. The thing is, your private trumpet teacher bombards you with new scales, etudes and solos every single week and you can’t seem to be able to say enough is enough. But you need to. Like yesterday. Why? Because good teachers will listen to you and understand your goals. Just be honest! It could go something like this “Miss Aragon, I really like playing the trumpet and I don’t want to quit lessons, but I have other hobbies I want to get better at too. Would it be okay to lessen the amount of practice assignments each week?” Trust me, your teacher will be just fine with it.
3. You want to practice but your PS4 wins that battle every single time.
That PS4 could be Netflix or social media. It’s a distraction and we need to find a way to make it go away. This is where I got stuck sometime in high school and even though I still managed to achieve most of my musical goals, I knew there was so much more to be done and I regretted it later on. Let me tell you, all musicians go through this at some point. All you need to do is take it one tiny step at a time.
• First, take your trumpet home every day, even if you think you won’t play it. When you get home pull it out and leave it out in your room somewhere safe where you can see it. This may make you play it even if just for fun.
• Start by setting a timer for 15 minutes and playing your warm-up or whatever other material your teacher assigned you (although a warm-up should always come first.) You might notice that once you start playing you will want to keep playing. You actually do enjoy playing it’s just hard to get started.
• Another way to practice more is to practice with a friend, so invite your friend over and play duets or your band music. Everything is always more fun with a buddy!
• Lastly, don’t allow yourself to play video games or check your phone until you have worked out that problem area in your music or completed all your scales. Do this every day and you will be amazed and what you can accomplish.
4. You just don’t want to take lessons.
If lessons bring you absolutely no joy, no inspiration and you find yourself daydreaming that this torture would just end, it may be time to let it go. This reason for not practicing is probably the hardest to deal with because you may not want to disappoint your private teacher, parents or maybe even yourself. However, you really have to talk to your parents and make it clear that you REALLY do not want to take lessons. This way you can take your talents to something you enjoy more, your teacher can open up a slot for a student who truly wants it AND you can still play in the band and have fun. Let me make this very clear: it is ok to be in band for fun. However, do not confuse this with the “lazy phase”. If you do, you will end up quitting lessons and regretting it later. Quit lessons ONLY when you truly rather be eaten by the ground than take another lesson.
I know there are other reasons why some of you don’t practice but hopefully this info will help you. Feel free to leave a comment, share this with your friends and pull out that horn.
Also, check out the THQ page on practice techniques!