Lesson 1: Planning for an Effective Practice Routine

Featuring: Leo Blanco, Professor at Berklee College of Music

As a musician, you will discover that the best way to progress musically is through goal oriented practice sessions. In this video you’re going to explore the benefits of practicing vs. just playing for fun, and how to organize your practice time using a journal.


Each mini-lesson is built upon the content of each video. Specific instructions are provided on how to work with students in class. Assessments for each lesson map directly to each lesson’s stated outcomes.


  • Describe the benefits of practice and how it differs from jamming and/or running through repertoire
  • Identify the elements of a successful practice session
  • Plan an effective a practice routine


Instructional Activity Ideas:

Exposition of Material: 5-7 minutes (including the video)

1. Teacher provides a very brief introduction (3 minutes) on the importance of practice to developing your skills as a musician. “The following set of videos we are going to watch provide a general plan so that you understand, right from the beginning, what it takes to get from where you are now… to the stage!...”

2. Teacher shows video.

Identifying Key Concepts and Terms: 10 minutes

3. After the video, provide the students with a Video 1: Assessment Video Key Points Scavenger Hunt handout that helps them find the key points in the video. Go over each of the questions out loud in class.

4. Show the video a second time. This time, students watch the video and take notes on their handout.

5. Teacher then provides a transcript of the video and gives students 5-7 minutes to complete the handout, or discusses each question on the handout and students can write down the answers during discussion.

6. Students submit the handout/assessment.

Note: It is ok that students had help with this; it’s still an assessment. Depending on teaching style, teacher may not choose to give out the transcript or discuss answers til students have completed the form.

Establishing a Practice Plan: 10 minutes

7. Create a practice plan.

    • Setting a goal:

The video speaker talked a lot about setting goals. Know that your goals will expand and get more specific as you get more experienced as a musician. For now, your goal is very clear: You want to establish a routine that will make it possible for you to practice every day, and document your progress using your practice journal. To do this, you need to think ahead about a few things. Write them down:

        • Where will I practice?
        • What time of day will I practice?
        • How long will I practice each day?
        • What are likely to be my biggest distractions?
        • How will I avoid them?
        • What is my short-term goal (for each practice session)?
        • What is my long-term goal for this week?

In the next video, Establishing an Effective Practice Routine, we’ll look at “what” you will practice.

8. Download the PULSE Practice JournalReview it, and write down a long-term goal for the week in the top grey box under “WEEK#”. Next to each day, write down a short-term goal for each day that will help you achieve the long-term week’s goal.

Lesson Closing

  • Submit the "Video 1: Assessment Video Key Points Scavenger Hunt"
  • Submit your practice plan and short- and long-term goals, as described above.

PULSE Resources: Extended Learning

Request a PULSE Demo Account

Practice Room: This area of the PULSE site offers a variety of instrument-specific resources including exercises, interactive practice tools, and instructional videos featuring Berklee faculty. Using the Practice Journal, students define and assess practice goals with the aid of their teacher.

Study Room: This area of PULSE includes curriculum resources devoted to contemporary musicianship and theory centering around the PULSE music library. Ten units of study, broken down into three levels, that focus on different musical concepts that are supported by a variety of materials like books, games, videos, exercises, interactive tools, and assessments.

Learn basic notation, major scales and intervals through the use of Berklee PULSE instructional videos, books, games, and tools. Test your skills by taking the Melody Level 1 Introduction to Notation and Introduction to Scales Quizzes.

Gain a deeper understanding of intervals, accidentals, and minor, pentatonic and blues scales. Explore our Circle of 5ths tool to prepare for the Melody Level 2 Accidentals & Intervals and Minor, Pentatonic, and Blues Scales Quizzes.