Mental Practice Preparation

Mental practice preparation” – Getting ourselves in the right frame of mind, and then planning and executing our practice goals – an article by Sam Neufeld of ‘Trumpet Warmup’.

2020 was difficult at times to stay motivated to practice. Gigs dried up and so did motivation to keep our chops together. Luckily there are some things we can do to get back on track.

Here are three strategies I am using in 2021 that you can use too:

  1. Set the bar low
  2. Remove distraction
  3. Track progress

Overall the name of the game is to develop consistency.

Let’s break it down…

  1. Setting the bar low for practice time.

A couple weeks ago, my friend mentioned he was going to start working out everyday. Last year he worked out only a handful of times and wanted to change that. I asked him, “how certain are you that you can workout seven days a week? Are you 100% certain that you won’t miss a single day?”

Well, of course the answer was no. He could not say with complete confidence that he’d not miss a single day especially since his previous track record was so different.

I said to him “Instead of attempting to workout everyday, start with something you know you’ll complete with 100% certainty.” 

Set the bar SO LOW that you cannot fail. This is a strategy that’s worked wonders for me in the past and I am using it this year to start practicing consistently again and improve my trumpet playing. I missed somewhere between 30-60 days last year and because of it my playing suffered. In order to get back on track, I’ve set the bar low by pledging to practice everyday for at least 5 minutes. There will be days that I practice 2+ hours, but 5 minutes minimum per day gets me back on track towards forming the daily habit of practicing.

  1. Remove distraction from the practice space.

Where do you practice currently? During Covid-19 times, it’s likely a bedroom or office space. If you’re lucky – an isolated practice space or garage. But, you don’t need a separate/isolated room. What may help you most is a dedicated practice space. Somewhere you have everything needed to complete a successful practice session.

In this space you need:

  • Mirror
  • Tuner
  • Trumpet stand
  • Music stand
  • Chair
  • Water bottle

Optional:

  • Computer or tv
  • Camera
  • Microphone
  • Mutes
  • Coffee
  • Other trumpet gadgets

I treat this like going to the gym. What do you bring with you before leaving for the gym? Water bottle, change of clothes, shampoo, etc… Treat practicing the same way this year. Don’t let the fact that you’re stuck in your apartment next to your tv distract you. Remove the distractions physically if possible, but more importantly – mentally.

  1. Record video and audio to track progress.

Accountability is a great motivator for staying true to your goal. If you have a private teacher, this is one form of accountability. Your teacher adds pressure to practice each week that wouldn’t otherwise be there.

Here’s another form of accountability that you may not already be utilizing: Instagram.

Create an account dedicated to practicing. Post your videos even if they suck. Get over the fear of “what will so-and-so think”. This is about improving over time, not sounding good every single day. You don’t have to like other people’s posts or comment fire emojis if you don’t want to. Although I suspect over time you will end up finding a friendly community of like-minded trumpet players that you enjoy engaging with.

By posting to Instagram, you will have accountability and a practice log. Months or years later you can analyze your past videos to see if you’ve actually improved or not! 

So this is my strategy for 2021. It’s time to get back on track. 

Follow me – @samneufeldtrumpet on Instagram

Follow – @trumpetwarmup on Instagram

Thoughts or questions? Email me at sam@trumpetwarmup.com. I love to chat 🙂


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