16 TIPS HOW TO MAKE YOUR PRACTICE SESSIONS BETTER


how to practice

16 TIPS ON HOW TO MAKE YOUR PRACTICE SESSION BETTER

by Chuck and Sandi Millar from Lesson Pros

Do you struggle with practicing? Does it always seem like a chore? We’ve all heard the saying practice makes perfect. This is actually an incorrect statement or a miss guided statement. It really should be PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. If you are practicing wrong you will only become as good as the thing you are practicing incorrectly. Hopefully this article will give you some insight on how you can make your practice session more enjoyable.

HOW LONG SHOULD YOU PRACTICE?

Before we dive into our tips, we get this question all the time. How long should you practice? Keep in mind there is no right or wrong answer to this except, “The more you practice perfectly the better you will get in a shorter amount of time.” This is a very true statement. Below is a guideline of what we suggest for our students, hopefully this will get you started in the right direction, however modify to meet your own goals.

  • Number of minutes per age up to age 12. Example if the student is 7 then it would be 7 minutes a day
  • Teenager or adult, we encourage at least 30 minutes a day.

16 TIPS HOW TO MAKE YOUR PRACTICE SESSIONS BETTER

Here are our top tips on how to make your practice session better.

#1 – SET A SCHEDULE

Setting up a schedule can really help. We highly recommend practicing everyday for at least 30 minutes but for most this is unrealistic. Make a commitment. Pick the days of the week and best time for you. Let’s say it’s Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6pm. For your child maybe it’s right after they get off the bus. 5 days a week. Perfect!

Once you have your schedule set, now add one or two makeup practice session dates and times.  What does that mean? Well, we know things don’t always go as planned. A birthday party comes up, friends invite you out, there is a really cool concert you want to go to. Go out and don’t feel guilty because you have your practice schedule makeup up dates on Saturdays and Sundays at 8pm. This way your practice session will never get missed.

#2 – GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR SPACE

Coming up with a good creative practice space for you will also help. Change the lighting in the room, add some textures or knick knack things that make you feel good. Creating an atmosphere that you want to be in, let this space become your sanctuary, a place where you want to be.

#3 – APPS AND WEBSITES EASILY ACCESSIBLE

Creating shortcuts on your desktop computer, ipad, iPhone, tablet, laptop, cell phone, etc. to your favorite sites like Lesson Pros, for instance, can also help, lol. But seriously, get all your favorite apps and websites in a folder ready to go so when you sit down to practice you are ready to easily pull everything up.

#4 – HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR THE PRACTICE SESSION

If possible, keep your metronome, pens, pencils, paper, music stand, recording device, manuscripts, tuners, capos, picks, drum sticks, straps, water, snacks, etc.  in the room so that you don’t have to spend precious practice time looking for them.

#5 – ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS

If you can, turn off anything that might be distracting to you. Your phone, close your facebook, turn off your TV,  get the kids started on a project, etc. This will definitely help your practice go better.

Let’s say you are a parent helping a child with their practice, let the child have that time to themselves to practice without interruption, especially other siblings coming into the room. Make it their special time for them to be alone and feed their soul.

#6 – STRETCH WITH WARM UPS

Like any athlete, you as a musician should do a few warm ups before diving into practicing your instrument. Figure out what this means for you. Stretching fingers, arms, legs, neck stretches, vocal stretches (if you are vocalist), back, etc.

#7 – RELAX

Get comfortable and just relax. Practicing should be a comfortable experience. By relaxing this will also help increase your agility and speed.

#8 – BE REALISTIC

Practice things within your reach. If we try to go to college before we’ve gone through k-12 you may feel like you failed right off the bat. Count your small successes. Pick things to practice that are in your reach. Also, quality over quantity, have a quality practice for at least 30 minutes.

#9 – BREAK IT DOWN

  • SMALLER PARTS
    • Really break things down into smaller parts. When Chuck took his first lessons years ago once had an instructor tell him to practice one note until it was perfect, then practice the second note until it was perfect, now put the two notes together. Get them perfect together. No wonder why Chuck is such an amazing musician. He really broke it down note per note. Now in my opinion this might be a little anal but serious if that is what it takes to get to the next level, we all should start doing that.
  • BREAK HANDS APART
    • Another thing we always teach our students is to break your hands apart. So figure out exactly what the left hand is gonna do then figure out what the right hand is gonna do, not necessarily in that order. You will find that by breaking your hands apart then try to play them together you will be able ultimately learn the notes easier.
  • WORK THROUGH THE PROBLEM SPOTS
    • Next, if you hit a problem spot, the tendency is to want to skip over that part, when in reality that is the part you need to work on the most. Work through it. You might try to play it for a while then walk away, just walk away. lol. In most cases, we’ve found that once a student comes back to the thing they were struggling all of a sudden they get it.
  • SLOW DOWN
    • Lastly, SLOW DOWN! We all want to be able to play it RIGHT NOW UP TO SPEED. Really slow everything down if you can get it at a slower tempo the speed will come. Choose slow and clean over fast and sloppy. Using a metronome is highly recommended.

#10 – THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE PLAYING

While working on a recording in Nashville, our engineer said to us one thing which really resonated with our band, “Every note should have meaning and intent.”  We now have passed this on to all our students by incorporating it in our workshops and courses that we teach worldwide.

So don’t just play random notes, think about what you are playing with meaning and intent. Great advice!

#11 – DEFINITELY RECORD YOUR PRACTICE

One thing you will for sure want to do is record your practices. Most devices nowadays have a recording app. Find the best one that will work on your device. This is a great tool, so you can go back and hear exactly what needs to be fixed. Pro Tip: back it up!

#12 – WATCH YOURSELF IN A MIRROR

This may be hard to do at first, but over time you will find this is a very useful way to be able to see what you are doing wrong. How are you holding your pick, bow, drum sticks, instrument, etc? What adjustments do you need to make? How is your posture? What is your face doing? Are you tightening up your shoulders? Do you look like you are having fun? Do you look like you are passionate about playing music? Are you looking at your instrument the whole time? These are all great questions to ask yourself.

#13 – PRACTICE IN THE DARK

Yep, you heard me correctly, once you feel like you have really gotten a piece down, can you play it without looking? Now can you play it in the dark? For those who are music readers this may not work so great but it is good to challenge yourself and get away from the books too!

#14 – ADD WRITING INTO YOUR PRACTICE SESSION

If you don’t already, occasionally add writing into your practice session. Write your your tablature, notes, scores, etc. this will most likely excel your learning. Even if it is just making up random stuff and scribbling it out. You don’t ever have to play it out unless of course you want to. Challenge yourself!

#15 – GET IN THE RIGHT FRAME OF MIND

Some days it can be hard to motivate ourselves to practice. It is like anything, going to a job, working out, etc. There was a period of times where I had so many students it was very overwhelming and I was on burn out, then my mom said it best and I thank her to this day. “You get to go teach.” It always put it in perspective. So “You get to workout.” “You get to go to your job” “You get to practice” all the same thing. Keeping in a good frame of mind will definitely keep you motivated to keep learning.

#16 – SET UP A REWARD SYSTEM

Give yourself a reward for having good practices sessions. Now this can look differently for each person. Figure out what works for you and if you have something good practice tips to share feel free to comment below.

PRIVATE LESSONS

If you are currently taking private lessons you may get some helpful tips from this article, How To Make Your Private Lessons Go Better.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

What have you found the most helpful in making your practice sessions go better?

COMMENTS

Please feel free to post your positive experiences to encourage, inspire, and/or help others become the best musicians they can be.
Keep in mind this is a complaint free zone.

SUBSCRIBE

A friendly reminder be sure to subscribe to the Lesson Pros Music Education Blog and/or the Chuck and Sandi’s Full Time RVing, Inspiration and Travel Blog

Chuck and Sandi
Lesson Pros
Building Confidence Through Music

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *