First let’s define practice. Unlike sports, you do not go out to your practice. In music, you go out to your lesson. Practice is what you do at home! The time you spend practicing and how you go about practicing are both essential to the success of your study of music. If you want to be really good at something, no matter what it is, you have to spend time doing it and the more time you spend the better you get. In music we call that time spent, practicing.
In fact, practice is the single most important part of learning any instrument. Without consistent focused practice there can be no musical growth. Taking music lessons without practicing is like going to school and not doing homework. Your music teacher can help you determine the correct amount of time to spend practicing and suggest ways to make your practice time most efficient. Minutes spent using proper practice methods are far more effective and enjoyable than hours spent practicing poorly. Both the time required and the methods you use will change over the course of your studies. Therefore, practice should be discussed frequently with your music teacher.
The famous Dr. Suzuki once said, “You don’t have to practice every day, only on the days that you eat”. This tongue in cheek quote emphasizes the importance of a regular practice regiment. I know how busy you are and what you are thinking because we all have the same daily struggles. It may seem difficult to embrace this idea. But I want to encourage you to set aside a bit of time for meaningful daily practice. A focused and properly executed practice session is both rewarding and relaxing. Don’t let the mere idea of it overwhelm you! Find a time that works (right after school/work/dinner or right before bed for example) and make a commitment to stick with it. You can think of it as an investment in your future. Soon you will not only be able to play for your own satisfaction but maybe even dazzle others with how well you play your instrument.
The more consistently time is spent practicing, the quicker students learn to play and enjoy their instruments. Most students come to enjoy practicing/playing more as they progress and eventually actually practice because they want to.
A final thought for today. Practice teaches much more than how to play an instrument. It teaches about discipline and dedication and the rewards of hard work. All important aspects of a fulfilling and rewarding life.
This blog will continue in the days ahead with practice tips, dealing with frustration, and other problem areas. I would love to hear from you on this subject. What are your practice challenges (your own challenges or those faced by your children)? What can we do to better teach the “art of practicing”? I am here to listen and to help you!