We all know the old adage, “Practice makes perfect.” More correct is, "Practice makes PERMANENT." The following are some recommended tips to get the most out of your practicing in order to master your music:
*Practice everyday – Set up a schedule for your practicing. Studies have shown that practice done earlier in the day is most effective, but don't worry if you can't practice until later; it is more important to practice everyday. Try not to skip a day.
*Remember that often the hardest part of practicing is getting started. Just get the instrument out of the case and start. Before you know it you will be on your way.
*Have a plan for your practice. It should range from very specific details you want to improve to overall concepts. Instead of practicing for a set length of time, try practicing until you have mastered a specific passage. If you master it before your scheduled practice time is done, that's great!! Move on to another passage or skill.
*Compare your practice with friends – Attend a music program, or a summer music camp. Having friends who practice and instrument makes it more fun, and more social. You may also get some good tips from other students.
*Focus on your senses – Make sure that if you wear glasses to read music, that you have them, and that your eyes are checked regularly – you wouldn’t want to miss a note during an important performance, whether a recital or a music camp performance. Also make sure you are in a good environment for focus. Don't let yourself get distracted by the TV or computer and save the texting for after your practice.
*Feel the music – Try to tell a story or share a mood with your music. Think of how you would express emotions with your voice and try to make your instrument convey the same feelings.
*Don’t be afraid to speak up – Your music camp, school, or private instructor is there to guide you in your music studies, so if you don’t understand something, or you are having trouble with a particular piece, don’t be afraid to let your teacher know.
*Watch the professionals – Every music student, whether a high school music student, or a college music student, should visit their local orchestra. Watch the way each musician moves. Pay attention to the conductor and the flow between each piece of music.
*Set goals and reward yourself – Set a goal to learn a particularly difficult or new composition, and then treat yourself to something special when the goal is accomplished. Rewarding yourself for accomplishment makes learning so much more fun.
*Practice what you are NOT good at. If you have mastered something, move on to a new section, technique or goal.
*Don’t let frustration get in your way – Learning does not need to be quick and easy – most of the time it’s not. If you feel yourself getting frustrated stop and take a couple of deep breaths. Remind yourself exactly what you are trying to accomplish and begin again. You may need to slow down or shorten the passage you are working on.
*Learn practice habits from top performers like the faculty at Strings International Music Festival and attend the Practice Seminar by Kimberly Fisher and other faculty.