Cello Thought For The Day: Little And Often

By Miranda Wilson

We all know that practice is the only way to improve. And yet, how many times have you had an avalanche of work to do and not known where to start? Maybe you simply don’t have time for that four-hour practice schedule your professor in undergrad told you was essential to career success. Maybe you’re juggling work, life, and fifty other things and finding it hard to carve out time for yourself. Maybe you feel so overwhelmed you end up not doing any of it.

It’s easy to deal with a massive to-do list when you’re having a good day, but what about all the other days when you feel sluggish, resentful, cross, sleepy, and grouchy?

That’s where “little and often” is useful.

How does “little and often” practice work? Well, you take a look at the mountain of things you’re supposed to accomplish. Then you just start. It doesn’t matter where. There’s not necessarily a blueprint. Just remember that something is better than nothing.

Here are some strategies that have worked for me.

  • Save your energy for the tasks that are most urgent. For most of us, that will be learning and polishing scores.

Read the chapter “Practice Habits” in Cello Practice, Cello Performance for tips on learning scores efficiently and effectively, and on resetting your technique at the end of the day.

  • It’s OK to do your fundamentals exercises at the end of practice rather than the beginning. This helps you focus on urgent tasks and allows you to reset anything in your technique that may have gone astray during practice.

Read “The Practice Snowball”

  • Make a list of the things that need to be done, and pick the one you feel the least resistance to do.

Download my template for the “Priority To-Do List”

  • Acknowledge that you will seldom have the time or energy for a monster cram session. If you have a day like that, great! But let’s make sure the other 364 days are, if not perfect, at least productive.

Read “Eyes off the Prize: Why Dreaming Small Makes Practice Better”

What are your best practice tips? I love to hear from readers, so please share your thoughts in the comments, or come on over to my  Facebook discussion page.

© Miranda Wilson, 2020. No part of this blog post may be reproduced without permission of the author.

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