Wednesday, May 8, 2013

15 Tips to Make Music Practice Time Count

There’s no point to practicing music simply for the sake of practicing music. For best results you’ve got to practice with purpose. exactly does one make that happen? The ZOEN polled a group of music teachers to learn how to get the most out of music practice time. Here are 15 tips straight from their lips:

#1 Get Into It
 photo Practice_2_zpsb9fa8537.jpgGood practice begins with an honest, wholehearted commitment, like going to the gym to get in shape. - Dan Foran, Voice

#2 Be Prepared
Gather your materials. Have a metronome handy (a smartphone app is great!), and a pencil. - Anna Fagan, Piano

#3 Ask Why
Make sure you know why you are practicing. You need a reason to practice. Are you practicing for yourself or someone else? You need to know this. - Jay Sandifer, Guitar, Drums, Piano & Voice

#4 Have a Plan
Have a plan, and make it a SMALL one.  Working just a few measures with a goal to play them several times in succession with two mistakes or less will give you satisfying progress in a short period of time. - Anna Fagan, Piano

#5 Build a Routine
Break your practice time up into thirds - for example, warm up, scales and jam time. Even if you only have 15 minutes to spend on your instrument, 5 minutes of  practicing each section correctly will yield great results. - Matt Brechbiel, Guitar

#6 Take 5 Minutes
Say you only have five minutes to practice today.  That's it. What's the one thing you need to work on that you can work on in 5 minutes? Work on that. The thing is, we all know what that one thing is. It may be half a bar of music, a tricky chord change, whatever, but there's always a very specific thing that's holding you up and there's really no reason to work on anything else. - Stephen Dick, Acoustic Guitar

#7 Get Inspired
Use YouTube for some inspiration. It's fairly easy to find good recordings of just about anything that you are working on.  Even a BAD recording can help you, in illuminating things that you want to avoid doing! - Anna Fagan, Piano

#8 Practice Without Practicing

#9 Record Yourself
Make a video of a run through of what you’re working on at the end of a practice session.  Review. Take notes.  Adjust.  Repeat. - Phil Amalong, Piano

#10 Know Your Limits
Sometimes, it’s far more beneficial to just leave the music for a day and get a good night of sleep. Know your limits, don’t be too easy to let things go and above all enjoy the music you have the pleasure to perform! - Dan Foran, Voice

#11 Experiment
So often we become overbound to a formal approach to our instrument that limits spontaneity and naturalness.  Carve out a few minutes in your longer practice sessions to just “mess around.”  Improvise, try new sounds or techniques, do something goofy or radical to help cultivate a boundless, effortless relationship with the instrument. - Phil Amalong, Piano

#12 Build Mental Discipline
Sometime, things just don’t want to work right and no matter what you do, you cannot seem to make progress in your practice. These days are very good for building your mental discipline. Play through your music mentally and go through difficult passages in your mind. If you feel so inspired, try your instrument again for a time and see what happens. - Dan Foran, Voice

#13 Track Your Progress
Record yourself. A smart phone is a great tool for this!  If you record several days' practice in a row, you will begin to hear your progress, and this can be very encouraging! - Anna Fagan, Piano

#14 Visualize Success
Going over a piece mentally shortly before going to bed for the night does wonders! - Dan Foran, Voice

#15 Get it Done
Make sure it gets done! Set a time to practice and make it a priority. That way your family knows and you know when it's time to practice, it's time to PRACTICE! - Fran Beaudry, Clarinet

Bonus Tip: Find a Teacher
Find a great music teacher who can work with you to create a practice routine that works for you. Their individual attention is invaluable and they know know just about every trick in the book! Ask them anything.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes, for me, getting students the music they want entails me transcribing a particular pop song for them, that involves a lot of decisions for me about trying to be true to the original melody so the students can play along with the track (key, rhythm, register, etc) or transpose the piece to an easier key and with a simplified rhythm which will enable them to play it more easily. Sometimes giving them a very difficult transcription which is clearly beyond their current abilities is an excellent motivator, and sometimes it isnt, every student is a unique individual who responds to a wide range of positive or negative reinforcements- some will rise to the challenge and work their butts off to be able to conquer the piece and some will curl up in a little tearful ball and quit. One parent came up with an excellent motivator for her daughter (who was a very commercially minded girl), she paid her $5 for every day that she practiced on her own for 30 minutes or more- but at the end of the week the child had to pay for her lesson herself. Pretty quickly the student realized that if she practiced 7 days a week she would be turning a $10 profit weekly, and promptly doubled her efforts at home. Everyone is different, and part of our job as teachers is learning what makes each pupil tick, and helping them develop good discipline which will reward them with a wealth of achievements, both in music and life. This is the way we do it at my studio, anyway...


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