- Plan it out. There’s a quote that goes something like, “if you really want something you’ll make time for it, if not you’ll make excuses.” Practicing can be like that… between homework, activities, dinner, and family time, it can be easy to let practicing fall to the wayside. Schedule your responsibilities and include a dedicated practice time. My own rule of thumb is to take your total class time for the week and aim to practice for an equal amount of time throughout the week. For example, if you’re a beginner taking 60 minutes of class/week, aim to practice either 3x/week for 20 minutes, 6x/week for 10 minutes, etc. If you’re a championship dancer attending class for 6 hours/week, aim to practice 4x/week for 90 minutes, 6x/week for 60 minutes, etc.
- Reserve a space. Dancers often find themselves dancing down the grocery store aisles, around the house, and waiting in line. But ask yourself - how often are you wearing your dance shoes, dancing to music, or really focusing on what you’re doing? By setting aside a time and space to practice you’ll help yourself ‘get in the zone’ to practice efficiently. Your space doesn’t have to be large or fancy. Just an area that you can wear your shoes, dance to music, and be free of distractions.
- Focus on your weaknesses. It sounds easy, but most of us don’t love to address our faults. It’s much more fun to do the things you’re good at, but your practice time will be much more effective if you work on areas that need attention. Maybe it’s your foot placement, or a new rhythm you’re yet to master, or remembering a step. Instead of admiring how great your turns are, making up treble reels, or practicing rhythms from shows, really dig into your weak areas and make an improvement, no matter how small.
- Write it down. I’m a huge fan of documenting everything so a practice log is an extension of this. Write down when you practiced, how long you practiced, what you practiced, and a short reflection of your practice session. Day to day it may seem repetitive or uninspiring, but when you look back at your log after 3 months, 6 months, or even a year later you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the changes you’ve made and noticeable improvements. A practice log can help you adjust or reset your goals as well as spot any trends in your practice.
- Get a buddy, if you need one. I’m a big proponent of dancers practicing on their own even from a very early age. I prefer dancers to be self-driven and developing the skill to practice independently is something that takes time. Some of us just aren’t cut out to go it alone though. If you’re someone who spends more time wandering around your practice space, picking out the best reel, tying your shoes, and looking in the mirror than you do dancing you may need an accountability buddy. Ask someone in your class to swap practice notes each week - having to be accountable for your own practice and being able to see someone else’s work may be the kick you need to maximize your own time.
SRL students have access to practice sheet templates and practice journal templates in our member’s area. Make sure you’re using them each week to be the best dancer YOU can be!