January 30, 2023
If you’re like most musicians, time can get away from you. For some professionals and part-timers alike, practice often takes a back seat to other tasks like marketing, recording, billing, teaching, writing, or any number of other things. Not only that, but it’s also hard to continue growing as an artist without practice. So, facing less time to practice along with pressure to get better, it’s always a good idea to maximize your practice sessions. To that end, here are a couple of pro tips for more effective practice.
First and foremost, focus. Make practice its own time in its own space and don’t multitask. Remove distractions like TVs, phones, social media, and pets.
Practice time can easily turn into random noodling that doesn’t actually make you better, especially if you’re at all tired. Instead of going into practice blind, go in with a plan to work on a small set of specific skills.
When working on a new skill, it behooves you to start slow, making sure to get each repetition right, rather than pushing yourself to be fast early. Slowly build up speed over time, always concentrating on good technique.
People who always seem to get better and better have a particular habit that people who get stuck don’t. That is, they work on the stuff that’s just outside of their comfort zone early in the session. You’ll want appropriate warm up time, but get to the tricky stuff early, rather than waiting until you’re tired. Furthermore, while you do want to keep up your chops on known skills, don’t waste too much time drilling things you’re already good at.
Breaks are necessary to process what you’re learning. Taking frequent breaks during practice before you’re too tired is good, as is an occasional break in your overall routine. In fact, some elite pros split practice time into small, concentrated sessions sprinkled throughout the day.
Many pros experience great success visualizing practice before actually doing it. Imagine it in great detail, and what you may find is little “holes” in your vision – small sections of a piece that you just skip over or occur in your imagination like a dark spot – those are great spots to drill in actual practice.
The main thing with practice is that consistency is far more important than intensity. However you go about it, keep practicing regularly, rather than burning yourself out every once in a while. Just keep practicing!
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