Is practicing at home a struggle?
One of the questions music teachers hear most often from students (or their students’ parents!) is how to get into the habit of practicing regularly. For me—and for many of us at Brooklyn Music Factory—the answer is a funny little time management tool we use to stay focused while working. It’s called the pomodoro—and it’s *perfect* for kids AND adults who need some help with their practice routine. What IS the pomodoro?
A serious productivity hack
Every time I sit down to write, I go to the one tool that keeps me honest: the pomodoro. Maybe you’ve heard of it? The pomodoro is a time management technique that uses a timer to encourage working for 25 minutes straight without any distractions, followed by a 5-minute break. Or, you could go immediately into another pomodoro if you are in the zone. It’s FANTASTIC.
As soon as I start the timer I feel motivated by the approaching deadline. I relish turning off ALL distractions, and look forward to my 5-minute breaks. My fiancé (who is also on board) and I have even started speaking in pomodoros. “Ok, let’s spend one pomodoro on this, and see what happens.” Or, as we both often work from home, “Let’s do two pomodoros and then I’ll see you for breakfast.” My level of productivity has gone through the roof, and I feel more in control of my day.
The pomodoro is also an incredible practice tool for musicians and artists. Imagine letting your child push go on the timer, and then challenging him or her to play for a full 25 minutes. Or you can choose to split up the pomodoro, spending five minutes on free play, 10 minutes on a song, and 10 minutes on a BLAM game. As a teacher, I’ve found the timer to be very powerful, especially when the child gets to be the time keeper. If practicing is a struggle at home, try letting your child be the one who sets their practice schedule. With the understanding that they need to practice at least 2 times a week (3 is better!), which days do they want to choose? Which times do they choose? Right after school, or right before dinner? Let them set the timer and push go!
What types of rewards (5 minute, or otherwise) would work well for your family?
- Sticker system (fun stickers, and a certain number of stickers = a toy or fun activity)
- 5 minute popsicle break!
- 5 minutes spent playing Big Music Games (good luck keeping it to only 5 minutes! #superfun )
- 5 minute spinning in circles
- 5 minutes reading (is this the hopeful future parent in me?)
- 5 minutes watching cute animal videos on youtube
What about treats for you grown-ups? These are my own personal 5-minute rewards:
- 5 minutes of yoga
- Making a cup of tea
- Peanut butter toast
- Sitting on my fire escape in the sun
- Jumping jacks!
- Instagram (*Guilty pleasure alert! I do not recommend screens on your 5-min break….)
Speaking of which, my timer just went off! (Got a fresh cup of coffee, did some stretching, drank a glass of water.) Let us know how the pomodoro works for you! I love it for work, creative practice, and I even recently used it to focus on writing my wedding vows.
And you can read more about the history of the pomodoro here.