Put in the Time!
Music is tons of fun, but if you want to be good, you're going to need to put in some time and effort. The lessons won't make you a better musician! The lessons are only a guide. It's the time you spend with your instrument in between lessons that will make you a good player. In your lessons, I'll show you what to practice and introduce you to new musical ideas. It's your job to take that new knowledge and put it to use by practicing your weekly assignment.
If you are a first year student, I recommend that you practice at least 10-15 minutes a day. If you practice longer, that's even better! As you improve, your practice time will gradually increase as you get more comfortable with your instrument and the assignments become longer and more challenging.
Remember that you'll get out of your instrument exactly what you put into it. Average effort will yield average results. Exceptional effort will yield exceptional results. I personally practice a minimum of two hours each day. If my schedule allows, I'll practice up to four or five hours, so I'm not telling you to do anything beyond what I already do myself.
How to Practice
Follow these three tips to get the best results from your practice sessions.
- Repeat. Don't just play each song or exercise once and call it good. The best way to build a skill is to do it over and over until it becomes automatic. Just like a basketball player will shoot free throws over and over, you'll need to play your music over and over. I recommend playing each lesson song 3-5 times each practice session. And if you repeat them more than that, good for you!
- Isolate. In any given song, there may be some parts that you find more difficult than others. Here's how you can tackle the tricky spots. First, play the song once or twice. Are there are any places in your music that keep tripping you up? Circle those spots. Then practice just those spots, slowing them down as much as needed to play them well. After you've practiced the tricky measures, go back and play whole song again. The next time you practice the song, practice the hard spots first before you play the song a few times.
- Slow Down. Everyone wants to play fast, but if you try to play too fast, you'll find yourself making a lot of mistakes. If you don't slow down, you're just going to keep practicing your mistakes over and over. Instead, slow the music down…WAY down. Play it so slowly that it's almost impossible to make a mistake. Once you find a speed at which you can play a song comfortably, play it a couple times at that speed, and then try it just a little bit faster. It takes patience to practice slowly, but it's the best way to build your musical skills.