life getting in the way of practice

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by project_c, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. project_c


    May 8, 2008
    London, UK
    I'm curious how people manage to stick to a daily practice routine when life gets hectic. I teach at a university 3 days a week and have a really busy freelance career too (neither is music related). The past year has been extremely busy for me, so most days my bass practice is relegated to sometime around midnight, sometimes later. During a normal practice session, I find that an hour is not really enough for me to feel like I've achieved anything, I usually need about 2 hours to feel like I'm progressing. But a really busy life, combined with wanting to spend some time with my girlfriend whenever work allows it, has meant that my practice has really suffered over this past year, and some days I have no time to play at all.

    How do you guys do it? Do you have a daily practice routine that you'd recommend for busy times? Maybe working on theory and 'heavy' stuff is not ideal for these kinds of times, but what would you practice to stay in shape when you were really busy with work / life?
  2. Noodle improv. It's what I do when there isn't enough time to really do anything. I guess it would be more technical to say "work on technique" but I'm really just noodling around.
  3. Basslice

    Basslice Supporting Member

    May 11, 2008
    Western Massachusetts
    Wait until you have a kid! Fagettaboutit. I get to practice with my band once a week and gigs. I have virtually no time to practice at home. The boy loves bass, but if he hears me playing, he won't sleep.

    Like anything in life, you make your choices and allocate time accordingly. It depends on how important it is to you vs other things. You cannot have it all. Life is all about trade-offs.
  4. project_c


    May 8, 2008
    London, UK
    This is what I end up doing a lot of the time at the moment, but I find myself getting into routines and just playing the same stuff all the time, I really feel the need to progress. I'm hoping there are some exercises or chop builders or whatever else out there that are more useful than that.

    Yeah, losing music time has been one of the biggest things that has stopped me wanting kids. Virtually all of my friends who are around my age already have kids, and they've pretty much quit doing anything else. For me it's having 2 really demanding jobs that's taking up all my time. I get home from work, and work for around 6 more hours at home.

    But I really don't want to give up playing and studying, so my trade-off ends up being my sleep. I get about 4 hours a night if I'm lucky.
  5. henry2513

    henry2513 Supporting Member

    May 9, 2011
    Los Angeles, Ca
    Im on the same boat, 4 hour daily commute, fulltime career, band practice, gigs, wife, son, church, workout, side job but I still get it in 3 hours day, I either wake up early and do an hour and do the rest st night, stay up late to get it done all at once or practice when I get home and take a nap get up at 2 am lol and finish.

    however you do it, especially ifc your time is limited, the key is to stay focused and have a plan and also the pandora px 5 is amazing tool, especially as a headphone amp.

    On weekend s I'm playing 6 to 8 hours.
  6. For what it's worth guys --- all that work will eventually bring you to retirement. Kids raised, pension and Social Security coming in. And guess what? People want music in the afternoon so when you retire you can gig as much as you want, because all the competition, from the younger guys, are at work making a living and not available.

    Practice enough to keep the dust off of your instruments and look forward to the kids being gone and money coming in from your pensions, etc.

    O'h yes, I should thank all of you for stimulating the economy so my pensions do keep coming. Been retired since 2000 and loving every moment. Was going to paint the dock this morning, but, got up too late, decided to start that chore this afternoon....... I know, I know.......

    There is time for everything........ maybe not at this moment, but, look ahead.
  7. zaubertuba


    Nov 1, 2009
    Couldn't have said it better. I'm 42, have two kids, wife, career and all the requisite busyness these things entail. The key for me is I try to get in a -consistent- 30-minutes/night on my instrument. Trying to cram 3 hours of practice a day into a busy life can just be downright disheartening.

    You'd be surprised at what you can accomplish if you focus on shorter but really focused practice sessions consistently every day. Sometimes I miss out, but I've been fairly consistent doing this on a new instrument/technique for two years now. While the progress is slow, if I compare myself to when I started, I notice marked improvement. It helps to have supportive band mates who give me the "wow! that was cool" look when I integrate a new riff or line now and then.

    There are riffs in my head that I tell myself--"don't worry, you'l have that down pat in about five years." :bag:

    But in all seriousness, sometimes taking the long-range view helps combat that "I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere" feeling. :cool:
  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    First, go to bed knowing when you are going to practice the next day. Not "I'll practice sometime tomorrow" but "I have an hour between 4 and 5 PM to practice".

    As far as what to practice, that's a little hard to say without knowing where you are, musically. I have a daygig, two regular sessions a week, gig fairly frequently. I have a girlfriend (with whom I been cohabiting for 33 years now), a cat, a mortgage etc. So I only have about an hour in the mornings before I get on the train. So I spend about 15 minutes working on long tones with the bow, about 15 minutes working on the improv exercise I describe in the the thread REALLY Learning a Tune (I'm at accent two triplets, moving melody), about 15 minutes working on ear training and another 15 minutes on what I call "hobby" stuff - playing different melodies to standards arco, reading through Simandl etudes or Bach two parts (arco), reading through to learn tunes (melodies) that the session guys bring in (the latest was Ron McClure's APRIL IN NIMES, a contrafact on APRIL IN PARIS that's a real knucklebuster).
    You do that every day, you make steady and consistent progress.
  9. john_g

    john_g Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007

    Im 41, 2 young kids, own my own business, wife, house, etc etc, and I do it after everyone goes to bed at night. My wife has always been an early to bed/early to rise and I am the opposite, so I get 2-3 hours by myself every night and that is when I practice. For me it is about working on technique, but equally about blowing off steam, so I make sure I do it every night.
  10. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    I'm frankly old and often tired by the time I get home, My practice time lacks the focus that I have at work because pressure and such does a good job of getting the adrenaline flowing. I'm beat when I come home much of the time. I wish there was some way of generating some of the focus I have at work, at practice
    As it is I'm realistic about expecting taking up a new instrument at my age is going tio take a while -- 3 year plan.. Unfortunately it seesm every time I build a little momentum, I have soem other set of obkigations that pull me away.
  11. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    Imo&e, the most efficient and productive use of time if you can do only one thing is to learn songs note for note by ear.
  12. Parrot-Head


    Jan 16, 2009
    Well, I'm new here and at the age of 48 after many years of wanting to have decided to give it a go (I believe, anyway...)
    I have always had a thing for the bass since I was a kid but never "found" the time to do anything about it. Now, that my son has been playing drums for about 4 years, I think it's a good time for me to learn, to play a little with him and maybe get involved with a church group sometime down the road or a bunch of old guys playing covers, if that is even possible.
    I know at my age I have no expectations of touring the world so I'm not too concerned about knowing every scale there is out there, or
    tattooing into my brain the deepest bits of music theory knowledge that there is to know.
    I am practicing when I can by myself and will be taking lessons soon as well. For me, it's all about the expectations I have for myself I guess, right or wrong.
  13. dalkowski

    dalkowski It's "rout," not "route." Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Either deliberately carve out the time or lower your expectations and take satisfaction with the time you can get, however small. (I've done both)
  14. pedroims


    Dec 19, 2007
    You are not alone, I am 40, 2 hour daily commute, fulltime career, wife, three kids = take them to karate, gymnastic, soccer, movies on Friday, church on Sunday, friends bla bla . Here is my schedule:

    4.30 am, wake up
    4:30-5.00 brew coffee, poo
    5.00 - 5:30 pray time
    5:30 -6:30 practice
    6.30-7.00 take a shower, wake up kids and wife.
    7 - 8 drive to work,
    8-5 work,
    5-6 drive back home,
    6-7 cook dinner , talk with the wife, drink a beer,
    7-10 play with kids, watch tv, read a book, have another beer.
    10-4 Sleep time, usually I will wake up every two hours 12am 2am , 3am , I wont get out of bed but I will make sure that nothing strange is going on
    4 30 wake up and follow the same routine
    mattattack187 likes this.
  15. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
  16. basspirate777


    Mar 21, 2009
    Latrobe, Pa
    This is encouraging to read...

    I'm 28, half done with a music degree, work 45+ hrs a week managing a coffeeshop and teaching lessons, married, almost 2yr old and twins on the way... the study of music and my instrumental pursuits keeps me sane. I try to get 30-60 minutes a day even when everything is insane (always). I feel like I'm learning more now than when I was touring and playing a lot of jazzy funky **** with Nashville folks during my time down south.

    It's all about Goals imo. Where are you going with music? Are you on your way to lincoln center or just trying to satisfy the inner voice? When I finally learned that I was a technique and theory nerd and not an entertainer, it allowed me to focus on the parts of my musical existence that meant most.

    I so feel ya on life getting in the way though-it's hard to develop a skill on a high level when you have the grind to attend to. I'm scared of trying to finish my degree with this litter of helions I'm about to have. I'm thinkin of it as practice insurance ;)

  17. Unfortunately, this is about all I manage most week days. Usually I'll pull out the metronome, sometimes play along with a tune, but "focused" practice is not easy when my brain is fried from a long day as a cubicle slave.

    - Crap mo' stank...
  18. stan2973


    Apr 17, 2012
    To all fellow married people with kids,jobs and everything else.Here's what I did(it's either the smartest or dumbest thing I ever did). I somehow managed(or it was her idea as I have been told HaHa) to get my wife to learn the guitar.It might not work for everyone....and sometimes not me.But it does give you someone to jam with even if she's picking it up way faster than you are.
  19. mtdmind


    Apr 17, 2012
    Hi I am new here,
    But I have been feeling the same way as a lot of people in regards to not having enough practice time. No matter how hard I try to manage my time something else always comes up to snatch up more time. I used to get up at 4 AM to practice before commuting to work, and I actually was pretty consistent for a couple of years, but I eventually burned out. My reward for all this--I have two very musically talented boys. I find myself being thankful for what music skills I have now instead of beating myself for not being able to get more.