This is how the idea came to be, sitting backstage with my friend Andrew, talking about our practicing habits. I was saying that I don’t believe people who say they practice eight hours a day. It doesn’t make sense. He suggested we actually do it.
A couple weeks later, we had a date booked on the calendar and an agreed upon schedule. We practiced from 9:30am to 5:30pm*, separately in our own homes, and met up to debrief over drinks at 6pm. It was do-able, after all.
Why not make it an annual event?
We’ve booked this year’s 8 Hour Practice Day for Monday July 31st, 2017. This time we have another friend joining us, and maybe next year we’ll have more.
You’re welcome to try this for yourself. If you want to do it along with us, here are the rules:
- Pick a practice buddy. You’re planning to spend a lot of time alone, testing your powers of concentration, so you’re going to want some accountability and camaraderie.
- Block off a full day on your calendar. You and your buddy must find a day that works for the both of you. And commit to it.
- Schedule a get-together at the end of the practice day so you can debrief. This is important! You’ll need social time after being in a bubble for so long. Meet your buddy at the bar or a cafe and compare your experiences.
- Set up your practice space the night before. Get all the tools and resources you need for the day (might include: chair, music stand, computer, metronome, table, any books you want to use, amplifier, recording device). You don’t want to be scrambling to get this stuff together at 9am.
- Plan your practice. You can practice anything you want during the 8 hours, but you have to use the following template:
￼09:30 – 10:30
￼10:30 – 10:45 break
￼10:45 – 12:00
￼12:00 – 12:15 break
￼12:15 – 13:00
13:00 – 14:00 one hour lunch break
￼14:00 – 15:00
￼15:00 – 15:15 break
￼15:15 – 16:30
￼16:30 – 16:45 break
￼16:45 – 17:30
Why start at 9:30? It gives you enough time to do other things in the morning. Eating breakfast would be smart. Make your coffee. Stretch. Get email out of the way.
Other things to keep in mind:
– Put your phone into airplane mode when you’re practicing (or leave it out of the room)
– Decide when you’ll check e-mail during the day. Maybe you check it once at 9am, then again at 5:30
– It’s a good idea to go for a walk at lunch time. Move your body, breathe some fresh air.
Here’s the template:
The 8 Hour Practice Day – template
Print it out and keep it handy.
*Here’s the thing, though: when someone works a 9-5 job, how many of those hours are actually spent working? You take breaks, you have lunch, and you get distracted. In truth, our 8 Hour Practice Day could really be called The 6 Hour Practice Day. But since breaks are important and necessary in order to have a productive day of practice, it feels right to include them as part of practice time.