I often find that students have a misconception about practice: that it takes long hours of steady practice to improve. If they don’t have that kind of time, they give up altogether.
But it’s not about long hours of steady practice. It’s about steadfastness with practice over a long time. It’s about not giving up. It’s about finding little chunks of time for as little as five minutes or at most 15 minutes throughout the day, every week, and working with full attention.
It’s about countering every negative thought that says “I’m too busy. I can’t do this. I’ll never get it.” with a thought that says “I seize little fragments of time for me alone. I can do this. I will get it.”
No private place to put on your headphones, listen to the lesson and practise your homework?
- How about finding 10 minutes in the bathroom?
- How about 10 minutes in bed before you turn off the light?
- How about 10 minutes in the morning before you get out of bed?
- How about getting out of your workplace for a 10-minute walk at lunchtime?
- How about a quiet 10-minute escape to the stairwell once or twice during the day?
- How about 10 minutes in their darkened bedroom as soon as the kids fall asleep?
Heck, you don’t even need to practise out loud.
There’s a therapy and exercise method called the Feldenkrais technique (the origins are unimportant) that’s all about gentle movement and directed attention, in which we’re often told to visualize rather than do a particular movement. Extraordinarily, we can achieve the same positive results. In fact brain studies have clearly shown, for a long time now, that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions. Visualization is being used to enhance performance, reduce stress, increase motivation, self-confidence, efficiency. It can even help the paralytic learn to move limbs and machinery with the help of electrodes and computers.
Can you choose to find time on your own for just a few minutes each day to suspend judgment, listen intently and practise attentively before your mind starts to wander and your muscles start to weaken?
It’s a strangely simple technique with a huge reward: less stress and faster improvement.
What’s holding you back?
What techniques have you found to maintain a steady practice?
Don’t forget to check out the latest word-of-the week at One-Minute Words on The Canadian Pronunciation Coach YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqJIW9b8ceo&list=UUtLnMIqmYW9uRCi_Kx48AaQ