Optimizing Practice Time

Optimizing Practice Time: Gain Results FAST!

Hey, Anthony here and wanted to share a huge insight (very important subject) making sure you’re optimizing practice time.  But real quick:

Hope you’re having an awesome day. :)  For real.  I know I did, spent a 3 day weekend relaxing with the family and celebrating my pre-birthday. :)  Birthdays are a great time to reassess yourself and take a long thought about your past year.  It’s always like when we enter the New Year, we start thinking of how great, or how bad, our year was.

In thinking about my past full year, it reminded me of what I use to think about when I first started and mid way through my marching years.  One subject that goes through everyone’s mind is practice.  We all do it:

“Man, I should have practiced more last year.  I could have been SO much better by this time of year.”

Oh, how many times have we all told ourselves that? Right?

Especially in this activity of marching percussion and drumline, there’s always a definite weight of making sure you’re not only practicing but gaining advantage.  It all comes down to how well you are optimizing practice time individually.

Of course, it happens to even the best of us.  With school, work, family, sleep, location, sports, etc, it’s easy to get distracted or put off practice to fill in one of these other subjects.  It’s always tough to make sure not only that you’re practicing but make sure you’re also optimizing practice time.   I get it, because I was there.

Back when I first started in high school, I was juggling Fall Marching Band, Fall Football and 6 Classes.  I’d go to school at 7am, go through the school day, go to football practice at 2:30pm when school go out, got out of football practice, then immediately went to Fall Marching Band until 9pm.  I did that for 3 days out of the week.

Then in the winter/spring,  I had Indoor(winter) drumline, Track and Field (Sprints), Wind Ensemble and my 6 classes.  I then moved on to the same type of schedule now FOUR times a week and to top it off, my following year, I added A PART TIME JOB!

Oh man was I exhausted! O_o

Now I know some of you don’t have as many subjects taking up your time, but I know that many of you do have crazy and time consuming schedules.

What I always wish is that I had a  better time-management schedule for practicing. <–key subject there.  For those of you who know me personally, you know that I’m spontanious and always looking to have a good time.  While great, sometimes, those spontanious moments cut into my “practice” time without even realizing it and I definitely wasn’t really getting the most of my practice time.  In looking back, I wish I was always I was more strict with my time and ensuring that everything I set up before hand made sure I was optimizing practice time.

Especially as you’re young, it can feel like any time you pick up a pair of sticks you’re “getting stuff done and practicing” but for me that is no way close of getting the most work done and really optimizing practice time.

Optimizing Practice Time to me, simple means this:  Getting the most and EFFECTIVE done when I practice, regardless of how much time I have.

So today, I want to give you a couple of questions that you can ask yourself to help make sure that not only are you practicing but that you’re optimizing practice time throughout the week.

To make sure you’re getting the MOST results and on track to optimizing practice time, here we go:

Take a sheet and write/print your entire current week.

Now starting at the time you wake up, start writing down all of your activities for the entire week, until the time you go to bed.  Every single day, including the weekends.

Example, Monday could look like this:


6:30 AM – Wake Up and get ready for school(or work)

8:00 AM – School

12:00 PM – 12:30 PM – Lunch

12:45 PM – School

2:30 PM – Out of School – No afterschool practice today

3:00 PM – Get Home

3:30 – 5:00 PM – Homework

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM – Off-time and dinner

6:00 PM – 6:30 PM – Optimizing Practice Time

6:30 PM – 7:00 PM – Relax with family

9:00 PM – 10:00 PM – Get ready for bed – crash

Now, that’s a basic template of the day and sure some of you have a tighter schedule but it’s a perfect example.  Do that for the rest of the week. Starting Today through Sunday, go from morning to sleep.  Once you’re done, take a look at the entire week.and then get to asking:

Alright, so the question to ask YOURSELF are what days can I REALLY devout solid practice time to and how can I really make sure I optimize practice time to get the most done?  What set of music is troubling me this season?  What rudiment has been lacking lately?  What areas am I lacking in skill?  How’s my tempo?

I mean ultimately we’re looking at getting the most for our band, not wasting practice time but optimizing practice time.  Getting the most out of it.

Once you’ve asked yourself those questions and let’s see how we can make sure you’re optimizing practice time efficiently: look over the days that you’ve added “Practice” to your schedule.  If you haven’t added in “Practice” or if you did lightly, this would be a perfect example to start looking at each day of where you can add in a “Practice” block.  Like you would block off time for school, block off time for homework or block time off for work, you have to block time off for practice if you want to constantly push yourself.  Take your practice time seriously as if it were work, that way you’ll make sure you’re optimizing practice time and not mindlessly “pecking” in front of the t.v., eventually it will pay off.  Take time for practice and set goals for each practice.

Make a goal to accomplish something everytime you practice that ultimately leads you to a weekly goal.

Daily Practice Goal = Daily Achievement = Overall Achievement of the Week :)

Remember, when you practice, it should always have a goal, or you’re just mindlessly pecking.  Right before you start, take a second and have the goal you’re trying to accomplish next to you and what you’re going to do to accomplish that goal.

To REALLY make sure you’re optimizing practice time check out this for example:

  • What to Practice: “I’m having trouble with bars 12-16, the phrase feels a little uneasy when I play it fast and up to tempo at 180 bpm (tempo-beats per minute)  Also, the sticking is uncomfortable forme right now.”


  • How to Achieve: So, to work on those bars, I’m going to break down each bar to it’s most basic form.  Ready each rhythm, and just trying to sound them out.  Count by count.  Next, once I get the idea of the passage, I’m going to take my sticks, pad and metronome.  I’m going to set my metronome and take the passage ALL THE WAY DOWN to a slow tempo 100 bpm.  I’m going to take the passage extremely slow so that I can handle how to play the phrase.  From there, once I can comfortably play the passage at 100 bpm, I’ll take it up 10 beats and try it at 110 bpm.  So on and so forth until I can get to my goal of 180 bpm.


That right there is an EXACT model of what I would do to clearly aim in optimizing practice time for myself.  You always have to have a goal and schedule.  I wish I had been optimizing practice time when I first got started, a better practice schedule when I practiced and marched.

It helps you keep track of your goals as a performer and a constant reminder of what you need to work on.  Trust me, if I had known this back then, I would have gotten SO MUCH better SO MUCH FASTER.

Not about how LONG you practice but how you’re optimizing practice time and effectively knocking out goals.

Go hard today and have a great week,


P.S.  Leave a comment on ways you use to save time by optimizing practice time and using to gain results fast :)