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Developing Practice Habits

One of the most challenging parts of achieving and maintaining a high level of excellence at anything is regular practice, whether it's singing, sports, writing computer code, playing an instrument, or driving a car. I was wondering a few months ago what it is that allows some singers to easily incorporate regular practice into their schedules, and others to flounder hopelessly, saying things like "I'm trying to practice every day." I started to observe the language that musicians use when they talk about practice. For those who practice regularly and therefore make good vocal progress, it most often seems that practice is tied to a particular time or activity. They practice at 9 a.m. every day, or after they go to the gym, or for "15 minutes after dinner." On the other hand, the musicians who "try" to practice can't typically even name how many minutes they practiced in the previous week, and their progress is slower than those who do the work regularly.

It's so simple and yet so effective.

"When I turn the shower on, I work this exercise."

"I pack my gym bag, then practice for 30 minutes, then head out the door to the gym."

"I can't practice at the same time every day, but I make 'practice dates' with myself and put them on my schedule."

If you would like to read more on the subject of building productive habits, I'd strongly suggest The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It's been translated to 31 languages and is the best book I've ever read on this subject.

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