How to effectively plan your piano practice – FREE Practice Planner (PDF)
Update February 2023: Hi everyone! Barbara here. I wanted to let you know that I have a NEW, updated version of my practice planner available for purchase in my shop.
You can of course still use this (free) old version - I'm not taking it down 🙂 But my new planner is an improved version to be used by students who want to practise more deliberately. If you are taking lessons, preparing for performance or an exam, this planner will be particularly helpful to stay on track and reach your goals.
It is not easy planning your practice around your life, and often, every minute counts.
It is essential to ensure you use that time well. Using a practice planner is a great way to keep your attention focused on your goals! It keeps you sharp and doesn’t let your mind and attention wander off too much.
Even if you have oceans of time, planning out your practice still makes a lot of sense!
I created this practice planner a long time ago for myself and thought I’d use it as a free giveaway on my blog today.
So let me show you how to use Piano Ecademy’s practice planner and get the most out of your freebie.
STEP 1 – Set your top monthly priority
As a budding musician, there is a huge variety of things you can focus on in your practice.
Some of you might be 'stuck' practising technical exercises and repertoire every week. I recommend a varied diet of musical challenges to develop your inner musicality.
Improvisation, arranging, chord practice, theory, ear training, active listening…
Unless you have hours every day, it is unlikely that you will have time to focus on each of these aspects.
So I recommend you choose a monthly ‘theme’ or ‘practice priority’. It is the one thing you’ll do NO MATTER WHAT each time you sit down to practice.
In the planner, the choices are:
- Chords & arranging
- Learning new repertoire
- Revising old repertoire
- Ear training
- Scales and Arpeggios
And then there is a final “other” category, which could be exam or performance prep.
The reason I want you to choose only ONE of these categories is that this will be your Minimum Daily Requirement. No matter what happens in each practice session, you should at least work on this area of focus.
So pick ONE! IF you have a teacher, it's a good idea to discuss this with them too.
In my fictional example, my monthly focus is “THEORY.
STEP 2 – Monthly Practice Goals
Now that we have defined our top focus let’s think about our goals for the coming month. You can keep these goals reasonably high level. By giving yourself some monthly goals, you are more likely to remain focused in the coming weeks.
So take some time to think about what you’d like to accomplish at the end of the month!
STEP 3 – Weekly Priority and practice tasks
I suggest setting yourself a weekly practice priority. That can be a high-level goal you wish to achieve that week, or it can be something simpler like: “practice five times each week”.
Once you’ve set a practice priority, now set yourself your weekly practice tasks.
These can be a little more detailed than your monthly goals!
They can include things such as warm-ups that are not necessarily goals, but stuff you'd like to add in your practice that week.
STEP 4 – practise and track!
Now comes the fun part! Practise and track!
First of all, gather your materials. I like to keep a printout of my weekly practice sheet on top of the books and resources I need to complete my weekly tasks.
By having all resources together and easily accessible, there are fewer hurdles to jump through when it comes time to practise.
Each day, tick off whether you practised, and make a note of how long. If you practice in multiple sessions, combine them to calculate total duration.
The idea of the practice habit tracker is NOT to make you feel guilty for not practising or to push you into rehearsing more than you can handle. It is merely a habit tracker – a system for recording how much we were able to do that given week
STEP 5 – Review
Step 5 is crucial!
Before moving on the new week, take a few minutes to reflect on your practice.
Did you achieve your priority goal this week? If no, why not? How did you go with your tasks? Were there any that were too hard, too easy? And how did your tracking go, did you manage to practice consistently? It not, why
The review section is an opportunity for you to try and get a handle on the amount of time you have to devote to your piano studies.
It also helps you determine the number of practice goals and tasks you can handle. It helps you be more realistic with your goal setting at the start of each week and month.
You’ll see your practice become more focused and you'll get more done.
The tracker comes with a monthly review page too! Here you can reflect on the month that was, much like you did at the end of each week.
And now, without further ado – here is your FREEBIE! I hope you enjoy it, and let me know how you go planning and tacking your practice.
See you next week