Making Practice A Habit – Part 4


In this final post, we’ll follow up the 4 stages of habit building with the final phase, Reward. Who doesn’t love a good reward? You work hard and you’re granted something for your efforts. So what rewards can we use to encourage our playing and how often should we reward ourselves?

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Daily Rewards

A daily reward is a good way to make sure we stay consistent. I find the best rewards are the things I want to do naturally every day. I reserve something until after I practice guitar as my reward for practicing. For me, I love watching Youtube videos, so I reserve my online video watching until after I’ve gotten my guitar playing done.

Midterm Rewards

A midterm reward I consider to be a week to a month. These are great for making sure you’re practicing over a time frame. These can be anything from a treat from your favorite restaurant, a night out at the movies, or a small new addition to your musical collection. Keep track of your practice every day and try to extend your streak. Set a goal and be honest with yourself about if you’ve achieved that goal.

Longterm Rewards

These rewards are best served for three to six month goals or longer. These are the big kahunas. The things you thought you’d never achieve. A big obstacle deserves a big reward. I remember making a deal with my parents as a kid that if I could learn Van Halen’s Eruption on guitar, they would buy me a new amp. I practiced harder than I’ve ever practice before, but after three months I did it. Not only was I twice the guitarist I was when I started but I had a greater drive than ever before. I didn’t need incentive to play because the reward was the incentive and my self esteem had never been higher.


As effective as rewards can be, punishment can also be effective. What happens if you don’t practice your instrument today? Do you get desert after dinner? Do you have to wear a hat of your rival sports team? Maybe you owe somebody money or have to pay a Tax? What you choose and how extreme you go will ultimately depend on your determination.

I ultimately recommend you choose a combination of both punishment and reward. Working toward something is good, running from something can also be good, but having both is the best of both worlds.

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Make A Contract

We’ve talked before about being specific. What’s more specific than a contract. Putting these rewards and punishments in writing is ab out a specific as you can get. Better yet, it makes it tangible. It’s real. You can see it. If you really want to hammer it home, make sure you have a witness. Somebody who’s going to hold you accountable if you mess up. Honesty is key and having a little help never hurts.

Adding It All Up

So that’s it. That’s a summary of the 4 stages of habit building. Using these four tools doesn’t guarantee a new habit will be built but it certainly gives you a much better fighting chance. So no more excuses. Have a system, put it in place, get to practicing, and become the best musician you can be! 

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