What’s the Pomodoro Technique?
- Write down a task you want to work on
- Set the timer for 25 minutes
- Take a 5 minute break/reward
- Repeat up to 4 times and then take a longer break
It may or may not work for everybody for everything. But the Pomodoro (“Tomato” in Italian) Technique may help you with your practice routine!
Why the Pomodoro?
Because, like the title of this LifeHacker article says, The Pomodoro Technique Trains Your Brain Away From Distractions:
[The Pomodoro Technique] takes the pressure off the task, and discourages multitasking. The goal is to pace yourself through the task, while still maintaining progress. This method enables you to concentrate without distractions, and encourages deep thinking.
The two biggest challenges I face when practicing are:
- Distractions/Mental Focus
- Procrastination – I keep putting off practicing until later in the day.
Pomodoro helps with the first, and slightly with the second.
Also, Pomodoro let’s you create realistic little chunks of 25 minute activities. Doing these repeatedly will result in great results over a long enough time. For example, say Moe the Musician commits to 25 minutes of transcribing a day for a year. Moe works on 15 seconds of a solo every day for 25 minutes. In a year, he would have learned over 90 minutes of musical material. That’s a whole album or two. Or 18 5 minute songs. That’s a lot of transcription!
5 minute YouTube Explanation
The original 25 minute, 5 minute break is the classic. I would advise trying the classic first.
Here’s some possible variations that might work with practicing music. Some of obviously more intense than others. It’s just me brainstorming, so feel try out your own variations.
- Pick a bunch of songs that you like and are working on. Group them into 25 minutes. Play along to the songs. When you’e played through the playlist, take a break.
- Pick one song and repeatedly play along with the song. If you know the song is 5 minutes, for example, practice along 5 times.
- Develop a warm-up and basic practice routine that takes about 25 minutes. For example, I warm-up my hands for about 5-7 minutes by slowly strumming. Next, I’ll play along to a couple of songs, usually ‘So What’ (9 minutes). Then I’ll do vocal warm-ups for 5 minutes. And finally I’ll practice soloing over some basic changes, swung and latin. That’s about 25 minutes.
- While there may be something special about 20-25 minutes. You can be easy on yourself. For example, use one of the 5 minute practice ideas and take a 5 minute break between each one.
- You can use the breaks to do some other type of work or task. For example, practice 20 minutes, work out/stretch 10 minutes, relax 5 minutes. This isn’t the Pomodoro Technique, but it’s worth thinking about.
- If you have multiple projects, you can switch between practicing music and your other project. This in effect will give you 30 minute breaks from each project (the musical project and the non-musical project).
- This is especially good for tougher musical tasks. For me, the toughest practice item would be transcribing a solo. It’s tedious for me when I have to slow down the music and listen many times to pick up the melody. It’s definitely worth it. But tough mentally.
Hope this helps you work on your practice routine. I’ll let you know when I have some good personal results!