Musicians are told to practice if they want to get better, but what is practicing, and how do you do it? Below are some ideas you can use to make your practice sessions more effective and help you become a better musician more quickly.
- Break up your practice time - According to a 2015 British study, adults have an average attention span of five minutes. After those five minutes, our minds wander and are less effective at learning and creating new connections. Instead of doing your practicing all at once, consider breaking up your practice sessions into two or three sessions. You will be able to concentrate for a greater percentage of the time and get more done.
- Practice the difficult sections first - It is a poor use of practice time to spend lots of time on music that is easy for you or that you already know how to play. Instead, spend your practice sessions working on the things that are more challenging for you.
- Concentrate on specific goals - When you practice, it is a smart idea to write down your specific goals for the practice session. “Get better at the violin” is too broad of a goal. “Be more in tune at measure 15” is a better goal because it is more specific, can be measured, and is achievable within a set amount of time. Once you have specific goals, you must make sure you stay focused on them during your practice.
- Don’t practice your mistakes - If you make a mistake, don’t keep playing and pretend it never happened! You should stop playing, try to think of ways to solve the problem, and then go back and fix it. If you don’t try to fix your mistakes, you will only be reinforcing them and increasing the chance that those errors happen again in the future.
- Take time to assess your playing - In order to make changes, your brain has to have time to process the new information you are giving it. Spend a little bit of time between each try to think of what you’d like to change and then possible solutions to the problem. When you take time to make necessary changes, you will be more successful in reaching your goals!