The most important elements of practicing a musical
instrument are these:
you should practice for at least 30 minutes daily. If you practice
for longer, play for 45 minutes and then stop and rest for 15
minutes. To reduce the risk of repetitive motion injuries, don't
practice more than six hours a day in this manner.
repetitions – play each piece 3-5 times.
Timekeeping – there are three methods for playing in time: foot
tapping, counting out loud, and, best of all, the metronome. Use one
of these methods while practicing. Avoid mental counting by itself-it
doesn’t work. Mental counting can be combined with foot tapping,
Use of slow
tempos-play the piece slowly a few times, and then increase the
speed for one repetition.
Warming up-begin your practice session with slow to moderately paced
scales, or songs with easy chords.
your piece for weeks or even months until you can play it up to
speed without errors.
Other important points-
in difficulty, slow down. This is virtually a cure-all for any problems
arising during practice. You can work through almost anything if
you slow down enough.
may learn a piece in sections by practicing short phrases of 2 or 4
measures and then playing the sections in order after the piece has
will usually be a couple of places in a piece that are harder than
the rest of it. Isolate these trouble spot in the piece and practice
them separately and repeatedly. Separate practice of these tough
spots is part of working up a piece.
the piece. In the case of fretted instruments (guitar, banjo and
mandolin), you can then look at the left hand while playing. This is
usually better than sight-reading, although it is also important to
be able to sight read well.
to sing the melody of any piece you practice. Musicians have a
saying, “If you can’t sing it, you don’t know it.” Singing
is a powerful tool for developing the “musical ear” and is taught in
conservatories to students whether or not they aspire to be vocalists.
know both the melody and the chord line of a piece. Also, learn
enough music theory to
transpose music into other keys. Understanding theory
will contextualize the music you play.
is important too. As your circumstances permit, acquire CDs of the
artists and styles you want to learn and listen to them often. You
need to get the sound of great playing-your goal-into your ears.
are four stages to learning a piece: 1) Establishing the correct
sequence and rhythm of the notes, 2) playing in time, 3) getting the
piece up to full speed, and 4) playing it expressively and with your
own interpretation. “Interpretation begins where technique ends”
– this means you must first be able to play a piece flawlessly
before you can really begin to interpret it. Music can evoke
powerful emotional responses, and your ultimate goal is to play with
a quality of feeling that is both appropriate to the piece and
moving to the listener.
one day a week for review of your previously learned pieces. Keep
them in your fingers.
Record yourself playing and listen to the playback-you will often
discover things needing improvement which are harder to detect when
you are playing.
There are many music-minus-one type recordings available that you can
play along with. These typically have a band without the melody
instrument, which allows you to learn to solo with accompaniment.
Playing along with records is also a good way to practice chords.
Use a music stand-this sounds trivial, but studies show you are 30%
more likely to practice regularly when you have one.
Practice a piece backwards it will force you to learn it more
thoroughly. Also, practice a piece with the accents moved out of
Listening is important. Listen to top-notch performers and
performances so you understand what defines state of the art playing
in your field you of study. You can find almost anything on YouTube.
a healthy, positive attitude. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes years to master an
instrument-you'll get there with regular, methodical practice. Have patience
in the short term, perseverance in the long term, and faith in