The magic of practicing for ~5 minutes


Over the years, I’ve often not practiced because I had an all-or-nothing mindset about it. “I need to practice for an hour, but I don’t have time… so I won’t practice at all!”

I’ve gotten a little better at putting in smaller amounts of time, when that’s all I have the time or energy for, and every time I’m amazed by how much can happen in five or ten minutes.

The other week I was looking up the Jaco Pastorius ‘Modern Electric Bass’ instructional video to find a litle clip I referenced in a lesson…

I stumbled on some really tasty licks he was playing at 21:45 (those first few phrases after the double stops), and thought “well, what the hell, why not put a few minutes into learning (read: stealing) those?”

Five minutes later, I had a couple new Jaco licks! And now every time I pick up the bass to solo I can play around with those new ideas.

(Obviously, your mileage will vary, it might take you way way longer to learn something like that, or it may not even be feasible, but you’ve just got to work at whatever level you’re at!)

So I’m really trying to remind myself how much I got out of those five minutes, and follow little inspirations to learn things like that more often. I also feel grateful for all the practice I’ve already put in over the years, that allows me to learn licks like that so quickly, that years ago would have been impossible to figure out even by slowing them down.

Anybody else get some cool stuff done in five minutes of practice?


As a dad of almost 8 years - 5 minutes of practice is about as good a day as I can ask for.
Reading through one piece - one song form transcription - one melody read - anything!
5 minutes.
Exercise - writing - reading - drawing - I’ll take it. It’s a great way to approach any endeavor, I say.


As a grandad I can only concur, it will get a bit easier, but not much! If I have a short amount of time but feel the need for bottom end I try and learn a new song or riff or whatever comes first. Because I have been playing a lot of Primus lately I felt a lot more slide in under my senses and I’m finding notes under my fingers and all of a sudden it seems I can play The Desaturated Seven. Never sat down and tried to learn it, it just became obvious with every passing five minutes! I don’t mean note for note. At least not yet, but that’ll probably come to me if I let it!


I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on practice, Josh! I have been terrible with practice (or the lack of it) since going through the course earlier this year. I am a college English teacher and a father and my time is very limited. This fall semester was particularly tough. I am now starting to play again, but I find myself having to go back and review a lot of lessons. That five minutes a day would’ve helped me maintain music knowledge and muscle memory. It’s New Year’s Eve and a minimum of 10 minutes a day has been added to my list of resolutions.
Thanks again! Well timed. I needed to read this today.


Hope it helps! I’m trying to take the same approach to learning Spanish, just downloaded the Duolingo app and I’m just putting it a few minutes at a time, which is extremely better than nothing. :slight_smile:


Okay, I’m chiming in… Got a new job just over a year ago, have a 16-state territory (travel a lot), learning the new routine, new customers, etc… Then bought a new house 6 months ago (still own previous home, trying to sell, so maintaining two homes while moving in to new one)… I have only recently picked up my bass for 15-20 minutes at a time for the last week, otherwise it’s not seen the light of day for months.

I can relate! I sang bass in a church choir for 25 years and without regular rehearsals and practice (and performance), my singing skills suffered, same with any instrument. I will do my best in 2019 to get back into daily practice, even if only 15-20 minutes. It’s quality of practice, not quantity for anyone doing this part time. Full time musicians need not comment, think I know your answer… :slight_smile: