Ah, practice. All those dull finger exercises and monotonous repetitions. Doing the same patterns over again until your brain feels like it is going to dribble out of your ears and onto your desk, ruining your diary. Your diary: isn’t that filled with important stuff you should be doing instead? Plus, you just heard an enticing ping from Facebook. The kids/dog are pestering you for dinner. You have tomorrow’s work presentation to prepare. And you’ve been promising to call your mum/mate/dentist for days now. Ok, scales. Fingers. Focus. Nope, it’s no good… the appointment to have your abscess drilled suddenly seems more exciting than a trip to Disneyland.
How do you overcome all this? How do you motivate yourself to practice your handpan when modern life is so full of commitments and distractions?
Like everything, it is a state of mind. I love to practice (yes, you read that right and no, I’m not clinically insane). Here are my top 10 tips that still help to motivate me, and I hope they help you too.
1. Note your goals
Every handpan player has them. Goals like being able to compose a tune in one month’s time, play something for grandma’s birthday, do a concert for Christmas, record a CD for next summer. Write them down and put them where you’ll see them every day. It’s a lot easier to stick to a running routine when you have a marathon coming up.
2. Devise a weekly schedule
There’s no magic genie lamp that grants instant access to superfast fingers or the skills of Mozart. In the real world, goals take time. So, estimate how long they will take. Then, and here’s the tricky part, make that time.
I know, you are busier than Donald Trump’s Twitter account. But if you really analyse your days, you’ll be amazed at how many spare minutes you can find. For example:
Cutting down the time you spend on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Tinder
Refraining from the latest binge-watch Netflix series or Hollywood blockbuster
While the washing machine is running, the dinner cooking, or every time the kettle is boiling
Ok, so you can survive without cute cat videos on YouTube (just). But what about your twice-weekly karate class? Saying ‘Yes’ to the handpan can mean saying ‘No’ to something else. Brace yourself for replacing something good with something better.
4. Make physical space
You’ll need somewhere away from the distractions of those you may live with. A dedicated, quiet practice space, or a room with a lock. If that’s not possible, talk to them in advance and ask them nicely not to interrupt you.
5. Make mental space
I’m yet to meet anyone who can multi-task when it comes to learning. So you’ll need a dedicated mental space too. Close the laptop, switch off the smartphone, unplug the landline, put gaffer tape over the dog’s mouth. Ok, not the dog. But definitely the others. Practice involves your whole mind. Beeps, rings and pings are a no-no.
6. Think quality not quantity
Practice is not the same thing as playing, nor playing about. That doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable. Afterall, you’re on your way to achieving your goals and that’s really exciting! The more you practice, the more you are opening up your possibilities, forming muscle memory and boosting your skills. You need to be serious and disciplined about learning. Focused exercises are intense, but a lot more efficient.
7. Find a buddy
Set up regular practice sessions with a handpan friend. This can reignite your enthusiasm and provide essential motivation when it’s running low.
8. Remember the costs
You bought your handpan (and bag/equipment). It was a big investment. So are the lessons. It’s like weekly football sessions or your gym membership. You paid for it, it is precious. Don’t waste it.
9. Remember how far you’ve come
Record yourself as you go along. There are few things more rewarding or motivating than watching a video of yourself from the month before and spotting the difference.
10. Look again
Remind yourself of the goal(s) you want to reach. It might be a faded post-it note on your fridge now, but it’s still a super-powerful prod to help you achieve those amazing handpan dreams.
Well I hope you’ll be encouraged and motivated to practice a little bit more your handpan 😉
What motivates yourself to practice? Any tips you want to share with us?