When I took the decision to set out on my musical journey, I knew that it would take monotonous practice to get there. So i started practicing like hell..I would just pick up my guitar or any other instrument and ramble on for hours. But did that made me good at them? Not at all.
Cause practicing hard doesn’t always mean that you are practicing the right way and learning new things. But I didn’t realize that. I would just grab my instrument and start singing my favorite songs and call it “practice”.
And this showed in my playing skills too. I wasn’t able to play correctly. You too must’ve experienced this too while learning your instrument..So what’s the best way to tackle this problem? Well according to me, there a handful of solutions for how to practice your instrument the right way:
Get the right set-up for you. Whether you prefer to concentrate in a quiet practice room or somewhere with more stimulation, try be consistent with your choice. This will help you enter the right mindset when you begin to practise.
Make sure you have everything you need close by: water, snacks, pencils, sharpeners, rubbers, highlighters, manuscript paper – it will save you a lot of time. Technology can also be an amazing aid, providing you don’t spend too much time faffing with it. Why not download free apps that act as a metronome, a tuner or a timer (all essential tools for practising)?
Like a physical workout, a warm-up is essential. But don’t just plough through the same warm-up routine every-time and let your mind wander – a warm-up isn’t just about getting your muscles moving. Take it as an opportunity to prepare your body and mind for work and take stock of how you’re feeling, how you’re breathing, the tension your body is holding and why you are doing that particular exercise.
Your warm-up doesn’t always have to be 15 minutes of scales; try different technical studies or sight reading. If you are going to do scales, consider the keys of the pieces you are rehearsing. And as a cool-down, revisit a piece of music you already know well and enjoy.
Be realistic :
We all grow up with our teachers telling us “don’t leave it until the night before”. We’ve all been guilty of it at some point, and if we have an intimidating part to practise, it is easy to push it to the back of our mind. However, it is much more effective to practise little and often, and slowly chip away at your nemesis day by day.
It’s about quality, not quantity. If you aim to practise smarter, not longer, you will find yourself with a lot more willpower to draw upon. By setting small and realistic goals, you will find you overcome tricky areas much easier, and you’ll be less likely to beat yourself up for not completing absolutely everything you had planned.
Pick a certain aspect concerning you, and then practice it:
Instead of mindlessly playing your instrument, pick a certain aspect of a piece or a song that you find difficult or intricate and practice it till perfection. Only practice the part you find difficult instead of playing through the piece again and again, Thus, saving time. Play through the whole thing when you think you’re done. This will not only increase your skill level but will also help you play intricate pieces with ease.
Instead of practicing for long hours, practice short. But between regular intervals.
This will be very useful to create a creative thought process during your practice sessions as longer practice sessions tend to create a negative environment for your creative mindset to work. But make sure to have regularity in your sessions. Maintain a fixed interval between your sessions. For example, practice half an hour to one hour between a 4-6 hour time frame. In this way you can practice multiple times a day and prevent straining yourself too much.
Plan your practice sessions by maintaining a list of what to practice:
Pick a few topics you want to cover during your practice sessions before you sit down to practice, saving time and thus, moving in planned way. This helped me a lot as i always used to search for things to practice – when i was practicing. So this wasted a lot of time which i could easily utilize in a productive manner if i pre-planned my sessions. Maintain a journal and make notes of topics to rehearse, and always keep a track.
Write on your music:
Don’t be afraid to scribble on your scores. Obviously some music does have to be treasured, but photocopy your score and do whatever it takes to make it easier to interpret the music. If you miss something once, make a mental note. But if it is a common occurrence then don’t be afraid to write in the correct fingering, highlight dynamics or remind yourself of a key change.
Set a time-frame where you just jam along
All work and no play makes jack a dull boy. So pick a time-frame where you just jam along your favorite song and just have some fun! Maybe you could record covers and post them on YouTube, social media etc and showcase your talent to the world! This will also help you assess yourself and will instill a sense of confidence in you. So jam along! Cause music is all about having fun and expressing yourself!
Try to practice with a friend rather than practicing alone:
Practicing your instrument with a friend is always better than practicing alone. Having a practice partner makes your sessions more fun and involving. You could always help each other out and maintain a collective creative process. It will increase the scope for learning new things and will pull you into the learning process. So go on! Call up your buddy and start learning and having fun!
So these were some tips on how to practice the right way. Which have benefited me and my musical abilities a lot. However, besides practicing techniques and strategies, some people still find it difficult to shoot up their creative abilities and get involved in the musical process. This is mostly due to lack of motivation and inspiration. Don’t worry, I’ve been there too. If you ever feel deprived of motivation, try learning and practicing your favorite songs first, songs which you love and just can’t help but put them on every playlist you make. This will get you involved and help set up a positive learning attitude in yourself. So don’t hesitate! Remember, PRACTICE will make you perfect and push your musical abilities far beyond you can imagine…