Practice and Focus

Hello all,

Just taking a bit of time to talk about focus in the practice room. I am notoriously bad at keeping focused in the practice room. I like to go walk around, get a drink, check my email, etc. which affects my focus which leads to a less sucessful practice session. However, today, I decided to try using a variation of the Pomodoro Technique while practicing, and I had substantial amounts of sucess!

To vastly oversimplify, the Pomodoro Technique is the idea of dividing work (practice) into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. I had been wanting to try this technique for a while, but I didn’t know how to eliminate other distractors. It so happened that my wife showed me this app while I was struggling trying to clean our condo called Forest that helps you stay focused by preventing you from using your phone during timed sessions. Each session plants a tree, and the tree grows throughout the timer. If you don’t use your phone during the session, a tree is planted in your forest! If you use your phone, you are forced to kill the sapling. It may sound silly, but it seems to work for my wife!

I divided my intervals into 45 minutes and gave myself 5 minute breaks. I used Forest to monitor my time. I assigned certain tasks that I was going to do in each section. Example: 1st interval is scales/etudes, 2nd is solo piece, etc.

I was stunned by how productive and focused my practice sessions were. After each session was done, I felt the urge to add more intervals of practice because I wanted my forest to grow! The 5 minute breaks were plenty of time for me to catch up on emails, social media, hydration, etc., so I was ready to start again after the 5 minute break.

I plan on using this method in the future, and I think I’ll see some great results! If you’re feeling stuck in the practice room, maybe give it a try!

— M. Fox

P.S. I have nothing to gain from advertising the Forest app. I just like it and think it might be a useful resource for those looking for a fun way to focus!

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