Every good musician knows that regular practice is a must, but did you know that careless practice can actually make you worse? Before you tell your parent or your teacher that you have decided not to practice, think about the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and HOW of practice that will help you play better and enjoy music more.
YOU! Good practice involves your mind, your body, your emotions, and the music. Your parent or teacher may be able to force you to spend time playing the notes, but only YOU can focus your mind and your feeling on the sounds you are producing, so that the music you play is beautiful and expressive.
Practice that progresses toward excellence will include:
- Review of scales, etudes, or pieces you have already learned
- Your new assignment
- Something you really love playing, or just for fun (maybe even make up a piece on your own)
It’s always best to have a special practice place carved out somewhere in your home that everyone knows about. This will help keep you consistent with your practicing, and it will also help other family members respect your practice time.
Choose a semi-quiet area with a chair and a sturdy music stand. There should be proper lighting and a place to store your musical accessories such as sheet music, pencils, markers, notebook and a metronome (specific instruments will require a drawer or cupboard for other things such as extra strings, reeds, valve oil, etc.). There should be minimal distractions such as TV, radio, other children, pets or telephone.
Dr. Suzuki said, "Only on the days that you eat!" The best plan is to make practice a part of your daily routine. If you know you will practice at a certain time every day, it will happen with very few exceptions.
This is a VERY important question! Many students practice by playing straight through a piece or other assignment (often as quickly as possible) as if they were at a recital, then go on to the next thing, no matter what happened. Money won't buy better playing, but well spent practice time will. Here are some hints for getting the most for your practice "dollar."
- Set goals to try to accomplish in each practice session
- Be sure you know what the passage should sound like
- Work on the most challenging spots first
- Break the music down into small sections
- (How do you eat an elephant? - One bite at a time!)
- Repeat the passage many times AFTER you get it right
- Before you end each practice session, play the entire piece, and enjoy!