Finally mastering a piece that you’ve been working on for a while can be really rewarding: our fingers seem like they’re moving more effortlessly, we don’t have to think so hard about what’s coming next in the music, and we achieve a flow and fluency that only comes with familiarity and hours of practice. However, we can sometimes be too quick to file away a piece as ‘finished’ in our eagerness to move on to something new, only to find weeks later when we revisit it that we’ve forgotten parts and lost some of that proficiency. (Nobody wants to end up in musical Groundhog Day having to learn the same piece over and over because they’ve forgotten it!)
Month: August 2020
When it comes to learning and remembering certain concepts in music, a lot of input and repetition is required to allow the information to sink in and begin to make sense. Key signatures are a good example of this – with twelve major and twelve minor keys, it can seem like a daunting task to memorise the correct sharps and flats needed for each scale. A lot of my students like using flash cards for learning this kind of information and testing themselves on their retention.
Although investing a great number of hours into your chosen instrument is crucial, the quality of that practice time is just as important. According to the leading authority in the psychology of expertise, K. Anders Ericsson, it is ‘deliberate’ practice that causes significant improvement, rather than mindlessly going through familiar motions. It is often much more beneficial to do twenty minutes of deliberate practice with a clear intention than it is to play aimlessly for an hour. With that in mind, here are eight practice techniques that I use in every lesson with my students and in my own practice, which will improve the efficiency of your learning and save valuable time.
One often overlooked factor that can make or break the effectiveness of your practice is how you set up your practice space. Most of us probably haven’t given the subject much thought (me included until recently!), but having a space that has been set up thoughtfully can have surprising effects on your musical progress and enjoyment. In this post I’ll look at the benefits of having a good practice set-up, and give some tips for how to make the most out of your music space.