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Laurie Niles

Creating the Practice Habit

March 5, 2006 at 7:14 AM

A great many of my students thrilled me today with their strong efforts at practicing. One student has practiced 60 consecutive days, and many others have long streaks going, too. So I wanted to share the secret once again, which I discovered when confronting my own practicing woes with my 5-year-old son:

The 21-Day Program.

Here is what to tell parents, to tell students, maybe to tell yourself: It takes 21 days to form a habit. You must practice 21 days in a row; if you skip a day, you must start again from one. For the first 21 days, it is possible that you will meet with resistance. Just work through that, and keep doing it anyway. It helps to find a time during the day that works, and try to keep consistent with that time. But even if the time varies, don't fail to do it every day for those 21 days.

After the 21 days, you have formed your practice habit. Your child (or you) will expect to practice, will want to practice. Your child, or you, will be...

Addicted to practicing violin.

The resistance will be very low, and in fact you'll all feel more upset about not practicing than about practicing.

Once you create the practice habit, then feed the addiction. It just builds on itself. Practicing causes you to get really good at playing the violin. Then, all you want to do is practice.

And practice and practice!

From Sydney Menees
Posted on March 5, 2006 at 8:57 AM
My teacher has a program like that except it is called the "100 Day Club." You practice for 100 days in a row and then you get an award in front of the entire violin program (at a performance or something) and a mini composer bust of your choice. When I was little, I loved being in the "100 Day Club."
From John Lanceley
Posted on March 5, 2006 at 8:49 PM
I might start my own, and call it the ten year club - I practice every year without fail!
From Linda Lerskier
Posted on March 5, 2006 at 9:07 PM
Addiction is right.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on March 5, 2006 at 11:34 PM
I like that, the Century Club! I need to start an awards program for this. Wow, ten years is awesome!
From Jamie Puffer
Posted on March 6, 2006 at 4:03 PM
Thank you for posting this... it's a little added encouragement that I needed right now!
From LisaJo Borchers
Posted on March 6, 2006 at 5:42 PM
This is a great idea. I worked with a "motivator" at a conference who told us that it takes 90 days to make or break a habit.
I think this is good news, that it might only take 21.

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