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Using the Pomodoro Technique for Music Practice

What Happened to Interleaving? Nothing, we mixed them together!

First off, what is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management approach where you break down all of your tasks into 25 minute blocks. Between each time block, there is a five minute break. And after completing four Pomodoros, you allow yourself a longer break (usually 15 to 30 minutes). This method has been created to retain your center of attention for each topic you are working on.

Francesco Cirillo came up with the Pomodoro System in the late 1980's. The technique got its name from the Italian word for tomato. Cirillo employed a tomato-shaped egg timer in order to manage his time.

The idea behind this strategy is for you to completely focus on one task at a time (writing, for instance). You can organize your Pomodoro session this way.

  1. Identify a task or tasks that you need to complete.

  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes

  3. Work on a task with no distractions

  4. When the alarm sounds, take a 5 minute break

  5. Repeat the process 3 more times.

  6. Take a longer 30-minute break and start again

For studying you can look at it this way.

  • Pomodoro 1 – 25 minutes: Create an outline for your English paper

  • 5 minute break

  • Pomodoro 2 – 25 minutes: Write the introduction to your paper

  • 5 minute break

  • Pomodoro 3 – 25 minutes: Write at least 5 more pages

  • 5 minute break

  • Pomodoro 4 – 25 minutes: Add footnotes to the pages written

  • 15-30 minute break

  • Hopefully you are not cramming this paper in at the last minute so have more Pomodoro Sessions before you turn this in!

How about for music?

Okay, now the timer isn’t going to work for music. Let’s face it.

We cannot have a 120 bpm clicking in the background while you are working on a piece at 70 bpm. Hence my videos that are set with timers (or you can easily set your phone timer).

Pomodoro 1 - 25 minutes: Warm ups and stretches

~ 5 minute break

Pomodoro 2 - 25 minutes: Etude of your choice (It should at least be related to the piece that you are working on.

~ 5 minute break

Pomodoro 3 - 25 minutes: Piece (maybe isolation of challenging passages)

~ 5 minute break

Pomodoro 4 - 25 minutes: Did you have a section in your etude that was troubling you? Isolate those measures and work them through thoughtfully and slowly. Maybe you could record them.

Get something to Eat and have some water. Stretch and shake out those muscles! Take a quick walk. If you can’t leave your practice room because someone might take it over, just do some stretches and walk around the room a bit. We are also creating a series of videos that will help you focus on something else that is relaxing and pretty cool (if you ask us).

Next session

Pomodoro 1 - 5 minutes: Warm ups

~ 5 minute break

Pomodoro 2 - 25 minutes: Solo work: maybe isolation of challenging passages or some visualization exercises.

~ 5 minute break

Pomodoro 3 - 25 minutes: Etude of your choice.(It should at least be related to your piece that you are working on. If there are a lot of flying staccatos, then an exercise that will make your flying staccatos better.

~ 5 minute break

Pomodoro 4 - 25 minutes: Record Piece you are working on. Not just record but really listen to it and mark on your music what you like, what you need to improve and what you need to do to make it all happen.

~ 30 - 50 minute break

This is just a quick outline of what you can do. You understand yourself better than anyone else, so experiment and figure out what works for your own practice. Take this concept and run with it. I found that this technique really helps me focus for a lot longer and the breaks allow me to concentrate on the music and relax my shoulder muscles. You can add orchestra or chamber music and if you are not playing in any group right now, try practicing your sight reading and play along with a recording or a Music Minus One video. You can find them on YouTube.

So, here are your two hours. If you want to do more in the evening, you can repeat this or add/change a few items on your list. It is all up to you. Give this a try and alter whatever you need.

Let us know how it goes!

If you need more organization, sign up for my Free 30 Day Practice Planner and join us at our Practice Page on FaceBook:

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