How to plan your music practice sessions...

About the Author: Benoît

Benoît Chapeaux, born in 1976 in Dijon, began playing the cello at the age of six. He continued his studies at the École Normale de Musique Alfred Cortot in Paris and obtained his diploma from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Lyon. He joined the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse in 2003 and co-founded the Quatuor Alexander in 1996.

It is important to learn how to plan your instrumental practice sessions.

We are all subject to our personal schedules, whether in the organisation of our professional or family life.


Nevertheless, to progress, we must commit to regular practice. Unfortunately, there is no miracle recipe other than daily work to advance.

You might say that this is the case in any field.

Time is everyone's enemy; its management is a priority, but don't be mistaken—quantity is not always a guarantee of quality or efficiency.

In my very humble opinion, let's never forget the notion of pleasure. Why did we choose the cello in our present case?

What does its practice bring us?

The sensations felt, the completion of a piece, the satisfaction... everyone must find their own motivation.

Because in the end, it may just be about motivation at the beginning.

Man running in the snowy countryside

If I may use the example of sports practice like running, there are times when we have to force ourselves to do it, even when the weather conditions are not always favourable. However, everyone agrees that once we overcome the lack of motivation, a real sense of satisfaction takes over.

I think the parallel with sports is not so trivial; professional musicians are often compared to high-level athletes due to their physical and mental preparation, concentration, and the repetition of movements, all aimed at gaining fluency.

Even the most talented individuals must adhere to this because otherwise, you waste time, nothing is stabilised, nothing is secured, and you can quickly become discouraged.

Beyond these many considerations, I want to give you some key points: we are not machines, and every day is different, as are our feelings. It is essential to know, despite everything, what we lack in order to be able to approach our work session effectively.

Magnificent cello

The teacher has the role of a guide; they are there to help you, to motivate you, and to maintain the most positive attitude possible towards yourself. Let's accept that the obstacles encountered are merely challenges and not insurmountable barriers.

It is clearly achievable for everyone to set goals, either on their own or with the help of a teacher. I emphasize the concept of patience; we all progress at different rates. Let us allow ourselves the time needed to overcome the difficulties we encounter.

It seems essential to me to take a day off each work week in our case. During the work phase, it is wise to plan a schedule to adhere to every day.

I want to reassure you, I am not at all resistant to change, but it seems simpler to me to stick with it nonetheless.

A businessman with a clock in the garden

We are all world champions of organisation, living in a society that consumes an enormous amount of energy. The time lost in commuting, the stress of demanding work, and the performance-at-all-costs mentality poison us all. Additionally, parenting responsibilities and the plethora of distractions can also sometimes be a hindrance.

Let's give ourselves a moment of pleasure; it's time for oneself, a gift moment, a break in the day.

You understand that this is the time you will also dedicate to your instrumental practice. In a busy day, obviously, everyone must choose the time slot that best suits this activity. It's up to us to set the rules, and it's important to stick to them as much as possible.

I believe that setting a dedicated time for practice is essential. It provides a goal and offers a valuable respite during a demanding day.

Lady with her cello

View this moment as a decompression step; it should remain as such above all else. Always approach musical practice as an opportunity that allows us to surpass ourselves individually. It's just you and your instrument, with no one to judge you, fully enjoying your moment without feeling distracted by external factors.

We are all different and must be creative in choosing the right moment to "play."

I will always remember the remark of a great actor who left for the theatre every evening to perform his role, kissing his children goodnight and telling them, "Daddy is going to play!"

This truth is comparable to music; in English, it's exactly the same: "play cello," play music... I can only conclude by repeating once more, "pleasure above all."

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