Students who have a short, specific, and achievable goal when practicing benefit from a proper and healthy mindset when entering and leaving the practice room each day. If the goal for the day is to learn a very short passage of music with a high level of achievement, and that goal can be accomplished without a marathon session, then that student is likely to walk out of the practice room feeling a sense of accomplishment for the time that was invested.
On the flip side, if practice goals are vague and have no clear point of accomplishment, students feel like practice is an exercise in failure, perhaps despite working for a very long time and achieving some solid training. All too often when a student is asked, “What are you working on today?” they will respond with something like, “I’m going to practice my solo until it sounds good.” As we all know, “until it sounds good” is usually weeks or months away, and even if students put in several hours of time, they are likely to walk away from that session thinking their practice time is a failure because they didn’t meet the goal.
Students who leave the practice room having accomplished a short goal at a high level will feel good about their daily practice routine and look forward to returning the next day. This disciplined approach will give them the mindset they need to achieve in the future, and more importantly, they’ll look forward to doing so!
Michael Huestis teaches at Prosper High School in the North Dallas area. He serves as the assistant director of the Music for All, Sandy Feldstein National Percussion Festival, is serving his first term as the PAS Texas Chapter President, and is the founder of the Percussion Solutions for Band Directors social media group. Huestis’s ensembles have performed at PASIC, Music for All National Percussion Festival, MENC Biennial Conference, Bands of America Grand National Championships, President Bush’s inaugural parade, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the Drum Corps International World Championships.