Practicing, in my opinion, is really more of an art than a science; however, it is necessary for the musical development of all musicians. If you ask ten accomplished musicians what their practice routine is, chances are they would all have different answers for you. Whether it be different lengths of time, different intervals of practice throughout the day or week, or even different practice session breakdowns most musicians practice differently. With that being said they would all share one thing in common, they all do (or at least have at one point) practiced a great deal.
Practicing is essential to one’s growth as a musician and that doesn’t just go for beginners but for more advanced and even professional musicians. Practicing is especially important for beginners specifically. When you start to learn your first instrument there are many skills that are being learned and repeating those skills is the best and arguably the only way to improve them. If you look at playing an instrument the same way as playing a sport, working out, or learning to speak/write/read a language you can see how important it is for practice to be at least a multiple day a week habit if not even an everyday of the week habit. People don’t generally get really fit and strong by working out once a week, nor do they learn to speak/read/write a language just practicing a day or two a week. Sure, you could make nominal progress and over a period of several years see growth but ultimately it would take a lengthy period of time. For music and instruments, you usually get out what you put in. Ultimately for music practice makes perfect.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact formula for a perfect practice session nor a “correct” amount of time to practice. Each person learns at a different pace and has differently learning styles as well as varying degrees of “natural talent”. However, we can draw some influence from known facts about studying. Consistency is almost always better than length. That is to say it would be better to practice for 20-30 minutes a day every day than it would be to put in an hour of practice once a week. Set goals for yourself whether that be working on a specific part or passage of a song, or a specific chord etc. Practice material that you find to be challenging/difficult as sticking to the easy parts will offer very little opportunity for growth. Practice material you have been assigned from band and/or a private lesson teacher, this material often is designed and assigned to help you grow as a musician and build a musical foundation. Last but not least just practice. Picking up your instruments for a couple minutes and playing is better than not playing at all.
Ultimately music can be and usually is more fun when you get to “harder” material because the “harder” material is the stuff we recognize and want to play. Whether its a pop song, movie soundtrack, favorite Sonata, or Jazz Standard these pieces are usually originally played by professional musicians who have spent years if not decades practicing, peforming, and recording. In order to get to these pieces and play them successfully certain foundational elements must be learned and practiced.
I guarentee that if you put it the time and make practice into a habit rather than an occasional activity that you will see a difference in your playing.
Brighton Music Academy: https://www.brightonmusicacademy.com/
Original Post: https://www.cantonmusicacademy.com/practicing/
Written by Tyler Gillon