• Practice Tips
    How to improve your playing through focused practice
     
     
     
    Practice Rules that you should never break.
    1.Set a goal to achieve whenever you pick up your instrument (don't "just play")
    2. Practice in small parts, for a short period of time.
    3. Practice SLOWLY (if you can't play it perfectly*, you're playing WAY TOO FAST!)
    4. Practice in a quiet place, away from distractions.
    5. Never practice when angry or upset.  If something is difficult, put your instrument down and do something else for a while.
    6. Think about what you're doing (don't go on auto pilot).
    7. Don't ignore the easy stuff.
    8. Don't ignore the hard stuff (remember: anything is possible with practice! Start slowly!).
    9. ALWAYS practice with a metronome!
    10. REPETITION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS.  Once you know how to perform something, do it over and over again to build that knowledge into your muscles!  We call this: Muscle Memory.
     
    *Perfect:  Playing the music** (or section of music) from beginning to end with correct posture, technique, intonation, tone, dynamics, rhythm, and musical phrasing WITHOUT STOPPING.
    **Playing Music: Playing the music (or section of music) from beginning to end with correct posture, technique, intonation, tone, dynamics, rhythm, and musical phrasing WITHOUT STOPPING.
    Our Goal: Playing the music from beginning to end with correct posture, technique, intonation, tone, dynamics, rhythm, and musical phrasing WITHOUT STOPPING.
     
    Anything else is just goofing off!
     
     
     Need more?
     
     I'm lost!
     Trying to master the music...
    Preparing for a performance
     

    1.  TAKE SMALL STEPS!  Pick a small section of the music, no more than 8 measures, to practice. 

    b.        Go as slow as you need to to be perfect!  If you need to, ignore the rhythm for now.

    c.         Don’t play out of tune!  If you are not certain how something should sound, play it on a piano, or find a recording of it online!

    d.        If you can’t do multiple measures all at once: go  through it note by note, trying to memorize (with your muscles!) the order of the notes and where they are on your instrument. 

    e.         Remember: Repetition is the key to mastery.Aim for at least three “play throughs”, in a row, and perfect.  If you mess up once, start your count over!

     

     2. Once you are certain your muscles know the notes, add the other elements of the music back in (rhythm, dynamics, styles, phrasing, tempo).  If you need to, add one element at a time.  For example, play all the correct notes in the rhythm.  Then play all the correct notes in rhythm, with the correct style.  Then correct notes, rhythm, style, and dynamics, etc.

    a. Demand perfection!

    b. Play with a metronome!

     3. Move on!  Don't spend your entire practice time on one part.  Once you understand it, move to the next section, or a different piece of music!

     

    Do each one several times, making sure you are playing every note perfectly, without stopping!

     

    Remember: Repetition is the key to mastery.  You know you have mastered something when you can pick up your instrument and do it without practicing first.

     

     1.  Pick a small section of the music to practice.  Play through it and figure out where your trouble spots are.  Hint: if you stop playing because of any note, that means your muscles haven't memorized it yet! 

    2. Practice the trouble spot, focusing on the problem (Is it a note? Is it a dynamic you didn't do? Are you not playing with correct phrasing? Etc.)  Spend no more than two minutes on each spot. 

    3. Play through the section of music again.  Any mistakes you make this time should be marked (with a pencil!) so you know to practice it next time. 

    4. Move on!

    Metronome tips: practice at a tempo you can play perfectly.  Then play it again and again, increasing the tempo by 5 each time.  When you finally reach a tempo you can't play it perfectly, decrease the tempo by 15 and play it perfectly three times in a row.  The next time you practice that passage, start at the "-15" tempo and do the same thing.

     Helpful tip for mastering notes: Ignore the rhythm, and play every note as if it were an 8th note.  Or, if you have multiple 8th/16th notes, practice with "Crazy Rhythms."  Crazy Rhythms are different combinations of fast and slow notes.  Fast means play the note and quickly move to the next note, slow means play the note and pause before moving to the next note. 

    The key to success here is practicing the section with multiple versions of this.  Here is a typical example of this (each note is notated by either "fast" or "slow"):

    1. Fast-Slow Fast-Slow (etc.)

    2. Slow-Fast Slow-Fast (etc.)

    3. Slow Fast-Fast Slow (etc.)

    4. Fast Fast Slow Slow (etc.)

     

     

     1. Play the entire piece of music.  Make a mental note of all the things you messed up on.

    2. Practice those mistakes, in small sections,spending no more than two minutes on each section. (REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT!)  You may need to use the skills learned from the left two columns.

    3. Play through the entire piece again, write down the mistakes you made and move on.

    Outside of practicing, we highly recommend to perform in front of people.   It's one thing to practice in the comfort of your room, but it is a different story when the pressure is on!