🙋🏻‍♀️ “I will cut my piano practice time in half🗡 and double my results!” One morning in 2018, I got out of bed and made this decision!

I have had enough with dreadful, mindless, and long hours of practice and decided to change my strategy.


Several years before that morning, I began this crazy practice journey by carving out a CHUNK of time of the day for practicing piano.

I was ambitious and determined–I wanted to learn everything possible on the 🎹! 

I sacrificed so many things in life for practice, locking myself in my piano room for 5 hours STRAIGHT every day 😱.  (FYI, I was teaching 35-40 private lessons per week!)

I was disciplined and committed 😤–got up at 5:00 am on weekdays, read and exercised, then started my 5-hour piano practice until I had to teach. 

On the weekend, I got up at 6:30 am, did power yoga, then onto pilates, taught for a few hours, then did my 5-hour (and sometimes longer) piano practice. (my friends used to tease me that I was living like a Samurai! LOL).

The first few weeks of this crazy routine were so tough. I kept looking at the ⏰ to see if it was the time for me to end my practice session of the day.

After a month into this lifestyle, 

  • I started to feel that those 5 hours went by so quickly that I was in the flow🏄🏼‍♀️.
  • I was learning (thinking back, it was more like sight-reading) more and more new repertoires–how fun is that!
  • In addition, I was experiencing this ego-boosting “seize the day” moment–I felt like I could conquer the world 🦸‍♀️. 

So, I decided to stick with this crazy lifestyle, which went on for several years–sheesh, talk about being determined and committed…yup, I was!

But despite all the good things happening, 

Several issues were starting to emerge…

First of all, I stopped living and receiving any inspiration from life outside my practice room: no socializing, cooking, walking in nature, etc. 

Secondly, I was physically and mentally exhausted all the time. I even strictly set aside the time for sleeping 😴 to have plenty of rest, but I was still tired. (It was so hard for me to have a good night’s rest because I was too stressed out!)

Thirdly, I was not practicing effectively. I could not fully focus during the practice and pay attention to details due to exhaustion from 5-hour, non-stop practicing. I started practicing mindlessly by repeating the same passages without thinking or strategizing for hours. 

Then, my playing quality got plateaued 😑–I did not see the progress in my playing. I was having such a hard time playing through one piece of music–I have never had this sort of issue before! 

Then, I began to feel a bit depressed and asked myself:


  • “Why do I keep practicing for hours, isolating myself from the world, if my playing is a plateau?”
  • “Everything is becoming a chore and not enjoyable.” 
  • “Where do I get inspiration to be musical and motivation to hone my skills if I have no connection to life outside of the practice room?”

So, I reached out to one of my close friends, a pianist, and shared my struggles and frustration with him. 

He suggested reading books like:

📗 Train Your Mind for Athletic Sucess by Jim Taylor, Ph.D. 

📙 Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool.

📚 and more!

Wow, these books changed my life!

Then came the fateful morning of the year 2018.

I stopped practicing 5 hours straight and began exploring so many ways to break the habit of mindless practice.

As for time management for practicing, this is what I decide to do: 

  1. From Monday to Thursday, I do three 50-minute practice sessions per day in a 4-hour window (having at least a 10-min break) until I teach, then I do a quick review session for 30 minutes after teaching.
  2. On Friday, I do two 50-minute sessions.
  3. On Saturday, I do two 50-minutes sessions in the afternoon and two 50-minutes sessions in the evening. 
  4. On Sunday, NO PRACTICE.

Then as for the quality of practice, I incorporate three things: focus, intention, and vigor–a purposeful practice.

  1. Begin each session with at least three rounds of a breathing exercise. 
  2. Set a specific intention for the session.
  3. Then start playing a passage, then evaluate.
  4. Adjust if necessary, then try again. 
  5. Repeat nos. 3 and 4 several times till it’s time to move on.
  6. Keep track of my practice and progress.
  7. Move on to the next item and go through similar steps.

At first, it was really challenging because it was not automatic like before. I thought that the mindless practice was so much easier. 

After six weeks or so with the purposeful practice, however, I began to notice the difference in my playing:

  1. 🧐 I was able to focus and pay attention to the details better while practicing!
  2. 😃 I could see the progress weekly because I strategized my daily practice.
  3. 🤩 I was much happier with the quality of life. 

Now in 2022, I am using a purposeful practice not only for my own but also for my students–helping them prepare to perform on stage “in the flow.”

I must confess, though, I have not been successful in cutting down my practice time per day by half of 5 hours as I promised myself in 2018; 

Yet, the overall positive results are evident. My piano technique is improving, and I am living life and *enjoying practicing/playing the piano.  *Enjoyment is not the same as pleasure, FYI.

Of course, as a pianist, you have to practice a lot–I NEVER encourage you to believe in shortcuts.

Through this new way of practice, I have learned to devote myself to practice with such a deep focus and intention with a shorter amount of time, which means I am spending my precious time wisely and effectively.

I still have to work on my socializing aspect of life, but I am putting some effort and getting better, I think 😆. 

📥 Send me a message to learn my system of purposeful practice to help you build solid practice habits so that you can perform on stage without anxiety!

❤️ Yukimi

Yukimi Song Piano Lessons