Time and place can often greatly influence practice. It depends. For some, they are tightly linked, but for others, they may not be. If you’ve been finding it difficult to get a practice routine established, or your old routine doesn’t work any longer, make this powerful combination your best friend.
Exploring time on its own, you need to find out when you have blocks of time available for practice. Then, you need to decide which ones work best for practice. If you have an acoustic piano, or you don’t want to use headphones with a digital one, it won’t matter that 11 p.m. works well for you! Even if 11 p.m. doesn’t disturb others in your house, you might find that you don’t have enough energy so late at night.
Once you find a good time for practice, you might be disciplined to sit down to practice. Or, you might need a Motivation Ritual to get started. Depending on your practice goal, you might want to make it a time that’s repeatable each day, so that you have some likelihood of practicing at least several days per week. You could instead just choose whatever time you have available, and look to place as an opportunity for improvement.
Some of you might be saying, “I have just one choice. My piano is where it is.” If you have an acoustic piano, that may very well be the case. If you have a digital piano, however, relocating it might be much easier. Your piano should be somewhere that makes it conducive for practice. If it’s in a common area where there is high foot traffic, or in competition with TV or video games, it might be time to move it. This can be a big win!
If you can’t relocate your home instrument, and aren’t finding enough opportunities to practice without bothering your household, do you have a secondary place where you can practice? During my career, I’ve often had my pick of places to practice, given my frequent work with churches. Even having an alternate location once or twice a week might be worth exploring.
You could easily create a second location if you have the funds to invest in a second piano, typically a portable digital one that can be quickly relocated or stowed from time to time. It may not be practical or affordable for you, but it’s certainly an outside-the-box solution.
Time and Place
While I tried to purposely keep time and place separated, you’ll see that they interconnect quite a bit. If you know anything about my practice, you will quickly understand that I may not a good model for your practice. I practice infrequently each week in larger blocks than most of my students. That’s the exact opposite recommendation I give, especially to my youngest students. However, my model might work for teens and adults who have lumpy schedules and need to fit practice around life.
I have a decent home instrument, a Yamaha U1 studio upright, but it’s not a grand piano. The churches to which I have access often have grand pianos that are much more condusive to practice. Plus, home is not my preferred place to practice because I always find other things that I should be doing. That might be housework, cooking and cleaning, laundry, computer work, and keeping my plants alive. Spontaneous practice, just for fun, is not happening often in that environment.
I hope I’ve encouraged you to think about time, place, and their interconnection. I first read about this in the context of a visual artist, who like me, finds that she does her best work when in a studio, not at home. If you have a choice in space, the best one has few distractions, whether they be the drudgery type, like dishes and laundry, or the fun type, like watching a giant HDTV. If you have only one place to practice, you might have to tweak your practice time. Try a few different ones to find what works. Then try to be consistent!