Here are 5 ways you can improve your practice
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Here are five simple ways you can improve your practice.
5. Practise Cleanly
What is practising cleanly? Simply it means playing without mistakes. Now perfection isn’t needed in music performance nor is it necessarily desired and there are many reasons for this that are too vast to get into during this blog post (we will cover this at another time). However, performance is different from practice. In practice you want to play with as few mistakes as you can because it helps with both fluency and security which is largely controlled by your subconscious mind or what is commonly referred to as muscle memory. When you practise, you’re not in a performance – this means you are free to play slower than you would normally, in a performance, and you can pause or stop playing if you are unsure. This makes it much easier to practice cleanly – helping you improve your security, accuracy, fluency and control.
4. Practise Slowly
Most students don’t practice slow enough, especially when learning a new piece. And I think this is because many of us don’t actually see others practice. We mainly see musicians perform and I think it gives a false view of what is required in the practice room. Most problems can be solved by simply playing slower. We learn quicker when we play slow, but more importantly I think we reduce pressure by playing slow. When we feel this pressure, mentally when playing, this can manifest as physical tension which can lead to playing issues and if prolonged sometimes even injury.
3. Maintain your instrument
Taking care of your instrument is going to make a big difference to your playing. Acoustic pianos need to be tuned and maintained 1-2x a year and saxophones need occasional servicing and repairs. This will need to be done by a professional and the immediate costs will save you money in the long run. You can also replace strings for guitars and reeds for saxophones as and when required. This all goes towards improving the sound and play-ability of an instrument.
Cleaning the instrument is also a great way to improve the sound – make sure you use cleaning equipment and products specially designed for your instrument, you don’t want to cause damage. You can clean the fret board and strings of your guitar. For saxophone players you can clean the mouthpiece, ligature and reed and you can make sure the body is clean and the pads are dried regularly. For piano you can simply dust it with a damp cloth and tidy your workspace (pianists can collect a lot of books)
2. Set up your practice space
This takes us neatly to our next top way to improve your practice. What if there was one thing that would instantly make you practice more often, would you do it? Keeping your instrument set up and out and having your music out on the stand is the best way to make you practise more often. If you practise more often, you practise more and you will see bigger and faster improvements. Too simple? Try it.
1. Increase your practice time
The number 1 way to improve your practice is to increase your time practising! If we could all wave a magic wand and make that so wouldn’t it be great? Unfortunately life happens and we all have other commitments which makes it much harder to schedule regular practice. But understanding the simple fact that more time = more progress, can really help boost your motivation to getting the time in.
Now it’s true that the quality of your practice is just as important as the quantity, and we’ve actually already covered this in the video, see numbers 4 & 5. Increasing your practice time needs a 3 pronged approach. Set a schedule and try to stick to it. Be flexible so you can cope with the ups and downs of life, don’t berate yourself up if you miss a day or time, or you don’t practice as long. Let yourself get bored. Cutting the screen time can really do wonders for your motivation.
To summarize, those top 5 ways are: Practice cleanly, practice slowly, maintain your instrument, set up your practice space and increase your practice time.
Do all 5 and you will see big changes.