The most important part of being a musician is practice. The time spent in music lessons and performances is vital, yes, but the time you put in on your own makes or breaks your development in skill and musicianship. However, playing for 10 minutes with no goal to your playing probably won’t do much more for you than simply keeping you playing. Practicing with a proper warm up and specific goal is the most effective way to grow as a musician, or really in any area of life. Here are some tips for effective music practice, in no particular order.
One of the hardest parts of practicing is keeping your focus to your instrument and your music, and not your buzzing phone or the TV playing. Put them away, dedicate an allotted amount of time to practice. Some like to do long chunks of practice, others do small, concentrated amounts of time with multiple breaks. As long as it’s focused, do what works for you!
Choose a Goal for Your Session!
A really easy way to keep your focus is to decide what your goal will be for your allotted practice time before you start. Maybe you’ll choose to focus on a specific run in a piece of music. Maybe you’ll focus on one aspect of technique training, like accuracy of finger placement on your violin, cello, or guitar, or long tones on your woodwind instrument. Focus your practice, and it’ll be easier to stay focused for longer and you’ll be able to feel your progress!
Practice Slow to Fast
The best and most tested way to perfect any difficult bit of music that you’re practicing is to practice it at slower tempos to start. At a slow tempo, you can focus on accuracy of rhythm and notes. Once you can master the music at a slower tempo, speed up the metronome bit by bit until you get it to your goal tempo!
It’s very common for growing musicians to forget just how important it is to warm up properly, before performances AND practice sessions. Have a warm up routine! Start with fundamentals, like long tones for wind players or a fun tune for piano players. Warm up your body and your brain for some work!