The private music teacher asks the student to practice. The weekly lesson rolls around and there has been no attempt on the part of the student to cozy up with their instrument and play exercises, refine technique or iron out rough patches in their music. One thing or another conveniently comes along to absorb the time that might have been set aside for practice. The teacher sighs and either asks the student to repeat the lesson material, or she succumbs to the inevitable and allows the student to progress to the next lesson.
Music students sometimes believe they are practicing when they are not. Performing may be a practice, but it does not replace actual practicing, per se. While repetitive performances of the same material might take the place of some aspects of practice, performance does not address all of the elements of practice. Singing along with the radio or with practice tracks in the car does not equal effective vocal practice. Noise and distractions inside and outside the car interfere with focus and concentration, whether or not the diehard car singer wants to admit it. Effective practice is partially dependent upon the quality of external feedback, which requires an acceptable acoustic environment equipped with whatever tools and accoutrements the practice requires. Usually those tools are defined via the practice mindset and immersion in the music making.
But looking at it from the perspective of the student for a moment, there is too much filling our lives. And we are expected to do everything brilliantly. We need to keep pace with evolving technology so as not to appear backward or limited. We flit from one activity to another because everyone else is flitting. School students cram facts into short term memory in order to test well and shine positive light on their educational institutions, and so that their academic credentials qualify them for a competitive education. Surface-level quick fixes have taken the place of in-depth study and deep practice.
Music practice today might require a new strategy involving regularly, mindfully snapping up the minutes that unexpectedly make themselves available. Play a scale a few times every time you pass the piano. Adjust posture or bowing arm position in your window reflection. Sing through that pesky riff or roulade in front of the bathroom mirror. The key to success may lie in how well you use your accumulation of practice minutes.