Over many year of teaching and listening to students say they have practised, I have gleaned a few thoughts about the subject that I think may be worth sharing here. When we’re learning any instrument we have an initial rush of enthusiasm which makes us want to learn to play well, either for pleasure or as an academic pursuit towards a career in music. We start by lessons at school or with a private instrumental teacher. The teacher starts you off with initial pieces and exercises and at the end of each lesson outlines what you need to practise. It may go something like this, “work on the rhythm of bar 10 etc”. At this point the pupil needs to take control of their own development and do this work at home The lesson itself is only the starting point!
Look at the week ahead and find some slots of time, no matter how short, that you can dedicate to practise. It’s too easy to say “I’ll do some before next week”. Often this results in not doing any – or worse, only doing it in a rush the night before the next lesson. Better to do a couple of pre-planned sessions than leaving it to chance.
Have You Practised?
When you actually sit down to practise, how do you do it? It’s not enough to play through the pieces a couple of times – much better to focus on the section where you always slow down or stumble. Recording yourself can be a good way of spotting areas needing special attention. This will make your practice much more productive. Spending time on the problem areas and difficult bits moves your playing forward and develops fluency.
Patience Makes Practise
Don’t get frustrated! Don’t give up!