How to Practice
Practice is most effective if worked into the daily routine and done 5 days a week. As you begin music lessons, practice should be short to allow that time to be manageable. Once it works in your schedule you can begin to stretch the time adding 5 minutes as needed.
Once practice is scheduled daily then “POW” everything else is easy, right? No. Actually daily practice can still not move you forward if it is not a motivated practice. How do I create a motivated practice? Here's a general routine and a great way to
build yourself up to accomplishing your goals in very little time.
- Warm-up: You are using your muscles in a particular way and all muscles in the body are stiff and unresponsive if they are not warm. Great warm ups that work our music muscles are Scales, Arpeggios and Technical studies. Your teacher should already have technical studies assigned to you, just make sure you do them first so they are doing their job.
- Be Awesome: Begin and end your practice with a song that makes you feel good and that you do well. No one wants to spend a half and hour beating themselves up over a song that they don't have down yet, that actually is a wasted practice anyway. Start by remembering why you play: Enjoyment. It will keep you coming back
- Work Smart: Let's face it. You WILL be challenged. It will at some point be discouraging but it is important that you push past your limits to create growth in your musicality. Here's how to deal with those “hard parts.” Break the difficult parts up into small sections. These can be as small as 2 notes and as large as an entire section. Typically, I break small sections up by the phrasing. Ask your teacher to help you find where to break up the sections. Then practice them 3 to 5 times. No more than 5. After 5 times, you tend to make more mistakes which causes frustration and ultimately makes for a bad experience. Typically we stray away from bad experiences and then practice is put off, not really because we are busy but because we don't want to torture ourselves. Sure, that makes sense, so stop torturing yourself. Lets make this challenging AND fun.
- Be Creative: Music is not just about reading notes and understanding the patterns in scales and arpeggios. It's a way to communicate our creativity. You can play a song in a way that creates a picture. For example, if you are playing a song about the oceon, how would you play in a way that makes it feel like we are in the oceon. Maybe you would speed up and slow down certain sections or put more emphasis in certain areas of the song. Maybe you would just play and see the ocean in your mind. Also you can be creative by writing your own music. You can just “play” and see what happens or you can go off of a song that you already know how to play and make it your way. It should be fun and it should come from your soul.
- Have Fun: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not end your practice with a part of a song that you just can't get. You are walking away from your practice space leaving a scowl in that space. Leave a smile. Be Silly. Make something up. Play a song that you know how to play and really have fun.
Article Written by Shawna Morby, Instructor at Morbyus Music and Fitness. April 8, 2013