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If someone interrupts you the tomato is no longer valid, and you have to resume it from the beginning


Related posts

  1. “Summertime” by George Gershwin, arranged for Ukulele
  2. “Over the Rainbow”, for solo Ukulele: a simple rendition
  3. “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” main theme: my own ukulele rendition
  4. Julian Bream: My Life in Music
  5. Friday suggested listening: Paco De Lucia, Concierto de Aranjuez