It is a myth that mothers are naturally good at multitasking?  Busy family life just forces us to practice this skill.  It therefore won’t come as a shock, to hear that you can combine every day household tasks, with music practice.

A friend, who is an accomplished pianist, told me about the unusual way in which her mother helped her to practice.  She didn’t sit over her offering “helpful” comments, but got on with household tasks, while keeping an eye and an ear on what her daughter was playing.  She would give her challenges like, “How many times can you play this passage correctly while I iron this shirt?” or “Can you do this task 10 times before I finished shopping the cucumber?” or “I love to hear you play!  Will you entertain me with a song, while I sweep the floor?”

Let’s take this one step further.  Following the principle that a change is as good as a rest, you can actually increase practice focus by doing another fun task at the same time.

Did I say,  “At the same time?”

Yes, if the other task is fast paced, different and constructive, it will do nicely.  I don’t think this is quite the place for heavy housework, or chores.  By quick transitions between activities, not only will you shake out tensions in the muscles, but you will be giving the mind and the neural system a good, fun workout too.  This is truly holistic practice.

Here’s an example of how you can liven up a practice session and create a nice lunch at the same time.

Most of us like crispy baked potatoes and most of us enjoy a luscious pizza.  If you’re really up for a spot of multitasking, why not give yourselves a truly sensory experience of combing a practice session with making a single delicious dish out of both recipes.

Make sure that you also have directions for some very specific practice tasks, each clearly written on a separate card, with the number of correct repetition is needed.  To start with we are going to earn the ingredients.

Simply, for every practice task successfully completed, put one of the ingredients on the kitchen counter.  Make sure that the tasks are highly specific.  Your teacher will happily make sure that you understand the exact sequence of how to practice each little task.

Right here we go.

Pizza Potato Practice

Ingredients for three people:

  • Small Highly Specific Practice Task  =  Three large floury potatoes
  • Small Highly Specific Practice Task  =  One jar tomato sauce
  • Small Highly Specific Practice Task  =  2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • Small Highly Specific Practice Task  =  Your favourite pizza toppings

1  Do another Little but Specific Practice Task  –  Set the table with plates, knives and forks as needed

2  After the next Small Practice Task  –  Pierce the potatoes with a fork and microwave until tender, about 12 to 15 minutes and reheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C.

3  Wash hands and see how many practice tasks you can complete correctly, while the potatoes are in the microwave.

Put your instrument down.  It’s preparation time again.  Don’t worry, there will be more time for music while the potatoes are in the oven.

  • Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and place them on a cookie sheet.
  • Make a small well into the center of the potato, sprinkle lightly with a little cheese, then scoop a little tomato sauce on top of the potato.
  • Taste and place your favorite topping, on top of the the sauce.
  • Sprinkle some cheese on top of the sauce (don’t forget to taste a bit) and transfer the potatoes to a cookie sheet.
  • Bake in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

4  Wash hands.  While the potatoes are in the oven, review your most favorite songs, while your practice helper does the washing and tidying.

5  Remove your delicious Pizza Potatoes from the oven.  I know this seems like torture, but they will be scaldingly hot, so always allow them to cool slightly before serving.

Bon appétit!  Don’t forget to drink a few toasts to your successful focussed multitask music practice.  This will will help to embed the good practicing experience and feeling good about yourself is good for the digestion.


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