Tips for Practicing Music

“Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex. “ – Norman Vincent Peale

It’s essential for students to develop effective practice methods.  Here are some tips we’ve gathered from some of our teachers:

1.     The metronome is your best friend.  Make the metronome your practice buddy and pretend it’s a simple percussionist that you’re making music with.  Also, try having the clicks only sound on beats 2 and 4 in common time, or on beats 1 and 3 in triple meter.  Playing with a metronome can be challenging in the beginning but it will actually decrease the time it takes you to learn a song or passage, it will help you develop an even sense in time, and it will prepare you to play with others.

2.     Practice makes permanent.  Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.  That means to make sure you’re not only playing the correct notes, but that you’re using the correct fingerings, correct techniques, and that you’re not making unnecessary movements.  For example, using your 2nd finger for a note when it would make more sense to use your 3rd finger, or vice versa. 

3.     Minimum Motion.  Making huge gestures and motions can be fun and have some benefits in playing expressively, but be mindful of having your fingers, hands, and/or arms, take the shortest path from one note to another.  Are your hands making any unnecessary shifts?  Could your fingers move more accurately or closer to the instrument?  Minimum motion is about playing with accuracy, speed, and precision. 

4.     The tortoise wins the race.  We all want results immediately and seek instant gratification.   Everyone wants to shred to the greatest guitar solos.  However, learning at a steady pace and mastering each concept before trying to move on will benefit you in the long race and before you know it, you’ll be rocking out to your favorite songs.

5.     Play with your ears not your eyes.  Music is sound.  More often than not, we worry about doing things the ‘right’ way with the ‘right’ technique.  Although, good technique is vital in playing music, at the end of the day we learn to play music because we want to make sound.  Listen to yourself.  Enjoy each sound you make.  Be mindful of every note and note duration.

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