How to Practice

Dear Students
Did you know that practicing music is different than playing music?  Playing is about personal enjoyment and sharing the gift with others: practice is about improvement and progress.  As a teacher, most of the time I talk about practice – but the truth is, it is incredibly important find a healthy balance between the two.
I can’t tell you how to enjoy playing music – you’ve got to figure that one out on your own.  🙂  But I can give you tips on how to practice to make the work more enjoyable and keep frustration to a minimum.

  1. It is good to set a weekly goal.  Do you want to get better at keeping your pitch consistent?  Do you want to get more confident with your bowing skills or sight reading?  Use your goal as a way to focus your practice time.
  2. Warm up your mind and your fingers by using scales or an easy technical exercise to start your practice session.
  3. Break your music into small pieces that are easy to concentrate on.  Being able to concentrate on an entire piece of music all in one go is difficult, so take it one line at a time – or even one measure at a time if you are finding it very challenging.
  4. Build a solid foundation and work your way up.  No matter what the performance temp is, start slow.  Learn the notes first, then add in special bowing techniques like slurs or staccatos.
  5. Repeat, repeat, repeat!  When I was taking lessons, my teacher told me to play each measure in a new song three times perfectly before I moved on to the next measure.  This might sound like it would take a lot longer to learn a new piece of music, but it actually takes less because it cuts down on the bad habits we accidentally allow when we try to focus on too much.
  6. For the last few minutes of your practice time relax and play something just for fun.  🙂

Let me a comment and let me know which tip helped you make better progress in your practice sessions this week!

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