The success of your musical practice depends not only on how many hours you log, but on how effectively you use your time. As Annie Bosler and Don Greene, the creators of this TED Ed lesson point out, this advice can apply to everything from music to sports. They define effective practice as “consistent; intensely focused; and targeting content or weaknesses that lie at the edge of one’s current abilities.” That’s another way of saying: Don’t waste your time practicing the things you already know, just to fill up those minutes.
Important Practice Strategies
- “Focus at the task on hand.” Turn off distractions and stay focused on the music.
- “Start out slowly, or in slow motion. Coordination is built with repetitions.” You must practice slowly in order to develop consistency. Slow repetitions develops accurate and relaxed muscle memories. It does absolutely no good to practice fast with poor technique and errors in notes and rhythm
- “Frequent repetition with allotted breaks are common practice habits of elite performers.” Divide your practice in smaller sessions. It gives you a mental break from intense, focused concentration, and also helps you avoid injury by giving your muscles a chance to rest.
- “Practice in your brain, in vivid detail.” Visualize playing your music without actually playing it. This one is incredibly valuable! Mental practice, if done correctly can be just as effective as physical practice. Visualize your way through your music; include every single detail. This is a great way to mentally work through difficult passages that are intimidating, or practice when you are away from your instrument. When you then actually play the music, it feels familiar because you’ve played through it in your mind dozens of times.