As a starting musician, settling into a routine for practicing may seem overwhelming at first. However, if you form healthy habits now, you will find that the process of learning your instrument will go that much smoother.
Warm up every time
Think about playing music like a workout—if you jump into a ten mile run without stretching first, you are bound to injure yourself. Warming up may seem like a small, inconsequential thing to do, but getting into the habit of doing it every time before you play is imperative. It gets both your instrument and your mind in the zone, and allows you to slowly sink into playing the hard stuff—this helps you avoid frustration early on in the practice session.
Write down then break down your goals
If you bought a guitar yesterday, then your goal right now is probably “learn guitar.” However, such a large and vague task can feel overwhelming, and could even hinder your progress. Instead, try breaking down your goals into small, manageable chunks—almost like milestones. Instead of making your goal to simply learn guitar, try making your goal to learn four chords a day, or maybe learn your favorite song in one week. That way, you have something tangible to work towards, and can better track your progress!
Become an intentional listener
Even when you are not actively playing your instrument, you can build good habits. If you want to excel at an instrument, it is very helpful to listen to the great recording artists that came before you. Some ways to become an intentional listener of music are: pick out each layer or musical element of the song, try to figure out what story the lyrics and notes are trying to tell, and take note on how the chord progressions support the melody.
Record yourself playing
It can be hard to notice small mistakes when you are focusing on playing your song. When you record yourself, you give yourself the chance to listen more objectively to how you play, as if someone else is playing a piece that you are critiquing. Recording yourself also gives you the ability to go back and listen to the same part over and over so that you can figure out why something sounds off. It’s also a phenomenal way to track your progress!
Give it your all
Finally, don’t settle in to practice each day as a boring chore that you have to do. Try your best to devote your full attention and energy to the task at hand. Doing something with half your energy will lead to less progress, resulting in more frustration, resulting in you hating practice even more… and the cycle repeats itself. Instead, be patient with yourself, and go into each practice session with a clear mind and deliberate focus.