While taking music lessons, learning how to play a new instrument or learning new music at can be A LOT of fun, doing what all musicians need to do in order to improve can be a bit frustrating. Practicing can be tough if we don’t have a plan of action. Familiar questions can rear their heads if we are not careful:
How do I practice? What do I practice? Where do I practice? How long do I practice? And the list goes on…
Here are a few tips that will help improve your music practice sessions and help make your practice experience much more enjoyable.
1. Find a quiet place. You’ll want to eliminate as many distractions as possible when practicing. Having the television on, siblings playing games, pets playing and jumping on you…not a good idea. Being able to practice in an appropriate environment that is free of distractions will go a long way in helping you focus on the tasks at hand as you strive to become a better musician.
2. Be prepared. You’d think this goes without saying, right? Wrong. One of the fastest ways to derail practicing efforts is also one of the most common: Having to waste time looking for music, your metronome, reeds, etc. Always have all of the materials you need close at hand. Being fully prepared will help maintain your focus and save tons of time in the long-run.
3. Set goals. Don’t fall into the trap of practicing with no real plan, or with no goals in mind. You should always have an idea of what you want to accomplish during your practice sessions…and be as specific as possible. Doing so with help narrow your scope and help you accomplish more with great success.
4. Practice smarter…not longer. Marathon practice sessions aren’t necessarily more beneficial than shorter ones. The key is really being able to practice with focused intent. 45 minutes of focused practice may be more beneficial than 3-hour, unfocused, meandering, everlasting sessions….during which you could actually accomplish very little.
5. Always warm up…and cool down. Think of your practice sessions as you would a gym workout. In order prepare yourself to properly tackle the rigors of practice and even to avoid strain or injury, it is always a good idea to warm-up…regardless of instrument. Whether you’re doing long tones or lip trills, properly warming up before you practice can be one of your keys to practicing success.
6. Make practice more of a challenge. Sure. You can make yourself feel good and spend your practice session blazing through selections or pieces you already know quite well. Is that going to help you? Nope…not as much as you think. You probably should be using your practice time to work on things you are not playing well. Challenge yourself and diligently practice things that are difficult for you. It may not sound pretty while you’re working on these things. But hey…that what practicing is all about.
7. Don’t stop when you think you “have it”. I’m not sure who said it first, but my high school band director used to always tell us, “Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.” This is a fantastic piece of advice. Always practice until you can play the passage you are working on consistently and correctly with no errors…many times. If you’re still making mistakes…you don’t know it yet. Break it down. Slow it down. Work it out.
With a bit of planning and by following these super awesome tips, you’re sure to have more success in your practice sessions. If you have more questions about practicing or anything else, head over to our contact page and ask away. Now…go practice!