S.T.O.P. - A Practice Plan


Did you know we use the skills to practice all the time? Take driving for instance, as you're going down the road your brain and body are constantly (or should be constantly) going through an analytical thinking pattern. This pattern is very similar to the one I use when teaching my students how to practice better...

S - Stop or pause
T - Think. Ask questions.
O - Plan an Objective or identify the desired change.
P - Play or make the change.

If we didn't go through this pattern while walking down the sidewalk we might find ourselves just banging into a brick wall over and over and over and over again. Ouch!

So I've been helping my students practice practicing these past few weeks. Here's an example of a practice session to be proud of...

10% Warming Up - Strectch, Scales, Tonalization, Awareness of your Body, Plan Objectives
40% Review - Re-familiarize older songs, use old songs to work on new techniques
40% New Song - Divide into smaller chunks, slow it down, Focus on One Thing at a Time
10% Cool Down - Scales, Tonalization, Stretching, Write a mini-review of the practice session

This form could be stretched to fit a 2-hour practice session, or shrunk to fit a 10 minute session. Constantly going through the STOP steps by taking time to analyze your progress and sound. However long your practice session, planning your flight and then flying your plan is always a good choice.

I've suggested to several students to keep a record of...
1. What they worked on.
2. How it went.
3. What they want to work on next.

This has worked wonders and really allows me to get a glimpse of the inside depth of their progress.

Has anyone else created a practice journal? What has worked and what hasn't in your practice planning?