Ten things to ask yourself when starting a new year of music practice

September is here and by the time you read this, it’s mid-September.


For a lot of people September is like a new year. It’s a new beginning, new projects. It’s the start of a school year or a new concert season.

In the past days I’ve been trying to remember what was crossing my mind when I was a student and I was ready to return to school in September. For sure, there was excitement. I used to look forward to new repertoire, new music, and new challenges! But sometimes there was also a feeling of dragging because I felt I had to “start again.” At times, my hands didn’t feel the same as in my recital of the previous school year. I had that feeling of starting again with the basics and this felt slooooow.

Now that I look back, I wish I had known what I know today and used some of that time to review the maps of my body instead of hurrying up to learn more music. Also to connect to my body during my practice instead of being so concentrated on looking at my technique in the mirror, trying to find everything there.

So, now that school is starting, here are some questions that you can ask yourself to develop some awareness. These questions can also guide you through the whole school year!

I encourage you to take the time and write your answers!

1) How do you warm up before you start practicing? Do you consider warming up your body and mind?

2) Do you like the new repertoire that you will be working on for several months? Is the new repertoire something that you chose or something that your teacher suggested? It is vital. VITAL. ESSENTIAL. To play what you like. If your teacher disagrees with the repertoire that you like, try to find something together that works for both.

Gabriela palpating the first arm joing between the sternum and collarbone.

3) How do you start practicing new repertoire? What is the first thing that you do?

4) Have you noticed if when reading a part you stop perceiving what is around you?

5) Are you aware of your body movements while practicing a new piece?

6) Do you have fun while practicing, during rehearsal, in your class? Why or why not?

Music stand with a music part

7) How many times do you rest while practicing a piece?

8) How many times do you rest during your whole day of practice and rehearsals?

9) How do you rest?

10) Mention three things that you enjoy while playing music.

Gabriela doing constructive rest.

For having a healthy academic year and a healthy career there are some key points that usually we disregard but are important, including rest, self-awareness, and awareness of what happens around us.

Have a great one!