Back to School: Practicing 101

One of the biggest concerns of any music student - either current or prospective – is whether they have time to practice, or how long they should practice. We have the answers for you (or at least, our opinions on the matter!) after the break.

You Have the Time

The issue of whether you have time to practice is, to be frank, bunk. If you have a Netflix subscription, you have time to practice. If you checked your Facebook account (or looked at and Liked our fantastic Facebook page), you have time to practice. We know of no individual who has absolutely zero time at their disposal to practice, so let’s eliminate that right off the bat. There are 10,080 minutes in a week, and we get to see you usually for 30 to 60 minutes. Obviously, there will be some work to do on your own

Making Priorities

Since you do have time to practice, how long should you be practicing? Obviously, it depends on what your goals are and your level of dedication, but most beginner students can get away with about 10-15 minutes a day. The hard part is making sure that the work is consistent.

Lots of Little Meals

Getting better at music is a lot like eating. You need to consumer a certain amount in a given time frame, but it’s a lot healthier to ingest in smaller, more consistent amounts. Would you rather eat one enormous meal in a day, or three meals plus a couple of snacks? It’s the same with practice: One day a week for 75 minutes will not be nearly as effective as five days and 15 minutes per day.

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

It’s all part of how the human brain makes new connections. Brains love when people repeat things over and over again. It’s how you learned to walk, learned to read, learned to ride a bike. Music is no different. The act of simply doing will move things forward, even if you don’t always feel like you’re moving that way.

Feeling Good About Yourself

A lot of beginning music students (and indeed, our more advanced ones as well) feel self conscious playing a certain section, or get frustrated by being unable to perform a phrase or two. But rather than work out the difficult sections, other parts that have been learned are repeated simply because they already sound good. They make us feel good about ourselves. When you play something that doesn’t sound as good, you don’t feel as good. Again, it’s human nature.

But think about this: If you can make even a single bar of a section you couldn’t play before sound good, that’s one more unit of music that can add to your pleasure. Taking pride in little moments means you’ll be feeling victorious more of the time, rather than worried about the sections you can’t play right away. Don’t worry; they’ll come in time just like the single bar you just conquered.

Our faculty members were just where you are at some point. We do understand the frustration and demotivation when something is a challenge. Our job and passion is helping motivate students to achieve their very best. We really love music, and we want to help you experience what we are fortunate enough to experience every day.

Just so you know: We all continue to practice to this day. Because we love the work, the pleasure of hearing that section come together, the pride of knowing we are creating beautiful music that much better than we did the day before. Truly, the journey never ends. We have all dedicated our lives to our craft, and we are all continuing to learn.

How to Get to Carnegie Hall

As the old joke goes, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!” Well, our faculty has performed at Carnegie Hall (the photo at the top is proof!), so we know what we’re talking about. Even if your goal isn’t Carnegie Hall but your front hall, you too can learn and even enjoy the fine art of Music Practicing. Remember: You’re not alone!

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