The Pomodoro technique for musicians

Simple, but effective!

The Pomodoro technique is a productivity method that uses timers and breaks, emphasizing working in focused bursts.

Developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro technique is based on a simple concept:

write down a task, work on that task for 25 minutes without interruption, and then take a break for five minutes

It’s called the “Pomodoro” technique because Francesco Cirillo was using a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (Pomodoro in Italian).

The goal is enabling you to concentrate without distractions and pressure (you can afford to take 25 minutes before calling back a friend or replying to an email), encourages deep thinking and avoid multitasking: all really useful during music practice!

How to apply Pomodoro technique to my daily practice?

First, find this simple tools:

  • A Kitchen timer (you can also use TomatoTimers on Browser/Android, or  Be-Focused on iOS)
  • A pencil
  • A task list

Then start a basic unit of work, that can be split in five simple steps:

  1. Choose a task to be accomplished
  2. Set the timer to 25 minutes.
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings, then put a  put a checkmark your task list
  4. If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 2.
  5. Every four pomodoros take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count on task list to zero, then go to step 1

Some examples of Pomodoro technique applied to music practice

  • Select a bunch of pieces from your repertoire that you are working on.
    Group them into 25 minutes. Play them. When you’e played through the playlist, take a break.
  • Pick one piece and play it repeatedly along the entire duration of Pomodoro.
  • Develop a warm-up and basic practice routine that takes about 25 minutes (here a simple example)
  • Isolate a list of hard passages that needs to be depth and repeat every fragment along an entire Pomodoro.

Its really important to be completely focues on practice during the 25 minutes: choose a quiet room, switch off smartphone ringer, IM and email notifications!

If someone interrupts you the tomato is no longer valid, and you have to resume it from the beginning