After some long practice sessions on the trumpet, MIDI, or guitar, I would ask myself frequently, “what are the best practice tips for musicians?”
In short, perfect practice makes perfect. Rushing into a series of difficult measures, or improperly working out a difficult series of notes, can make practice far more difficult and time consuming. Patience and diligence are very important, as well as understanding when to take a break and the proper methods to bolster your talent. Let’s look at a few examples of this.
For me, it may be long tones so that I can work on my high note range or pentatonic scales. For others, it may be a difficult passage for a piece you’ve worked on for months for a competition. No matter the situation, understanding that patience and diligence are two facets of practice that should always be exemplified in your studies and everyday playing.
I decided to compile my list of favorite practice tips for musicians that changed how I practice entirely. Following these tips can streamline your practicing, no matter the instrument, and can steer you in the right direction if you need to create a practice routine.
Nothing is more important than this, even if it is a basic one.
Setting a goal creates the foundation for the entire musical journey you wish to take. It sets a path towards greatness, towards skill and maneuverability. Goals can be as simple or as complex as you’d like, but having one is extremely important.
Your first goal should be which instrument to play. If you’re already playing, determining whether you want to become more methodological, or maybe want to learn some jazz chords. Practice breathing, a sonata, or grab a few friends and start a jazz quartet.
Deciding what to do with your time has to happen before any creative energy can flow. Take your time deciding your goals, and have plenty! Expressing yourself through music requires the constant plethora of goals.
Create A Perfect Environment
Practice flows from motivation, stemming ultimately from the creativity that led you to play an instrument in the first place. Creativity thrives in a comfortable environment.
Seeking out comfort before practicing an instrument can help you in relaxing and honing in on the task at hand. Finding your comfort zone is important in practicing at a professional level.
Personally, I found the environment in my high school unappealing which led to my change in lessons. I found that my new environment and practice routine benefited greatly from an environment I felt comfortable in.
Be like this kitty. One with their musical chi. And super chill.
Relaxing goes hand in hand with the environment you play in. If you cannot relax, the stress of your goal can overwhelm you and tempt you to get frustrated and hearken your progress.
Breathing properly and in intervals, different methodology, and understanding your purpose behind why you practice can help ease you into a more relaxed mind state and continue the creative flow of musical practice. It’s also a great time to look into more practice tips for musicians!
Practice in Phases
I cannot stress this enough – the professionals that practice 12 hours a day also rest, and have been doing that for years. You cannot practice that long straight, with no breaks and not expect to hurt yourself.
Take a damn break! Your chops, mind, or fingers (or all 3!) will thank you later. I’d say half an hour to an hour between sessions, depending on length of time and number of sessions. This promotes blood flow to the practice area and allows to mentally reset before taking on the musical challenge.
I had spent significant time of continued practice, and this is a tip that I wish I heeded more. Please, please, please take breaks during your practice.
This was another key takeaway I learned from my lessons – scheduling properly.
You want to practice around the same time each day. This allows the same amount of time between sessions and creates a consistency for your chops, and your mental capacity. For pianists and string players, this allows time for your fingers to heal after strenous play.
Playing sporadically doesn’t affect you too bad if done minimally, but over time seemingly affects your ability to form a schedule and how effecient you practice overall. Sit down, find a time that works with your work and other responsibilities, and you’ll see that it’s easier to play with that time allotted.
How else do you expect to track your progress?
I was on a weekly schedule. During that time, I could keep track in a small notepad which pages of which books I had to work on, and what I would be tested on the following week.
Having this notepad kept me in line, helped me keep a schedule, keep track of my progress from beginning until now, and creates confidence that I have progressed and can prove it.
Methodological note taking is best. I use a table of contents and number my pages; for you, finding the best way to organize can save you alot of time in scheduling out practice routines and can give you better direction, judging from previous notes.
Repeat Problem Areas
This should come as obvious, but some of the benefits of repeatedly practicing problem areas may not be as apparent.
For example, taking the time to get through a difficult passage and master it over the course of a day to a week can immensely boost your confidence, rather than just floating through and kinda practicing here and there. Being consistent and thorough in your practice includes attacking problem areas and mastering them, and doing so will help you become a much better, more confident player.
Get A Teacher
Another fantastic tip that changed how I practice was getting a teacher.
I can only impart my own knowledge from playing trumpet for almost a decade, but I learned so much from my high school teacher. If you’re still in high school or college, seek out guidance from a teacher for lessons, brainstorming goals, and nudging in the right direction in accordance with your goals.
Craigslist and other assets online can reveal music teachers for those out of school. Doing your due diligence through services like Yelp can help determine the best in your area.
Having a teacher helped instill alot of the basic tenants of practice that I still follow today. Having that influence and pressure can mend you into a fantastic, functioning musician that knows how to practice perfectly.
Practicing daily is hugely important in maintaining your craft. I can say that this is a tenant I wish I would’ve maintained, as I have noticed I don’t have the kind of skill that I would if I had practiced every day up to now.
You can really make a huge difference in your skill level by practicing every day. Start small; instead of an hour of intensive play, try simple songs some days and methodology others. This may actually make practicing daily more enjoyable as you look forward to some days over others.
In the end, we all decided to play an instrument because it seemed like fun. Music brings people together, and creates harmony unlike anything else in this world. Have fun while you practice! Ultimately, how you set goals and stick to them makes a difference in how much fun you have while doing it.
Thank you for reading my article. Practice is important, but perfect practice makes perfect. There are thousands of practice tips for musicians out there aside from what’s listed here today. Finding what works and what doesn’t is the trickiest part.