Practice Changes Lives
Practice without focus is a waste of time and very discouraging when there is little progress being made. I know musicians who brag about how much time they spend practicing, as if the hours they spend on the instrument will guarantee success. One hour of focused practice will beat 8 hours of non-focused practice any day. If you are practicing five hours a day and you are checking Facebook, answering the phone, and doing random task, you are wasting time. Your practice must focus on specific task and you must have a way to measure your progress. Don’t tell yourself you are learning a melody of a song and end up practicing your solo chops on the tune for the next hour. Until you learn the art of focus your practice sessions will always be a way to pass time and make yourself feel good for the moment. When you learn to focus on specific task it speeds up the process of learning your instrument, and it improves your ability to retain information in a shorter period of time. This will break the habit of trying to memorize music and allow you to internalize what you play, which equals developing an astute ear and being able to play naturally. If you can only focus for one hour that is how long you should practice. When you practice focus, your time actually focusing will increase dramatically.
The other skill musicians must master is correct practice. In a lot of situations this simply means playing slow and paying attention to your hands and the rest of your body. It also means listening to yourself and analyzing how you play so you will know what to work on technically and musically. Believe it or not, a lot of musicians play but don’t listen to themselves too well. They are busy concentrating on something technical. You must record and listen to yourself on a regular basis. You are your most scrutinizing critic, so getting constructive criticism from this guy can be most helpful. The practice journal is a very valuable tool also, because this will give you a concrete way to measure your progress with anything you are trying to accomplish with your playing. It also allows you to set up some specific goals to focus on. This is the one tool that will guide you into correct practice. If you get nothing else from this, you must start a practice journal.
Learning an instrument and the practice routine can give you so many different skills to help you succeed in life. When you master the art of correct practice, you are learning a methodical plan to achieve anything you set out to achieve. This process allows you to learn a skill that can only be learned with intentional effort. It teaches you the secret of practicing intentional focus. You learn to set a goal and measure your progress towards that goal. And most importantly, you will develop a practice that requires you to continuously set new goals and reach them. This practice will propel you through a rewarding life on so many levels. Take the time and learn how to practice, just like my student, it will change your life.