“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi
How we approach and use this time is crucial in our development. We owe it to ourselves to make the best of it. The following are a few suggestions to consider before we next enter the practice room.
Make sure the place where we practice is free of things and people that will draw our attention away from the task at hand. Televisions, computers, brothers and sisters, and anything else that impedes our concentration should not be part of the practice environment.
Many students will usually start at the beginning of a piece, fly through the easier parts, struggle through the tough spots, push forward until they’ve reached the end, and then repeat the process. This isn’t the most productive method. Time would be better spent isolating the difficult portion and spending extra time on it. We should be doing far more repetitions on the difficult parts than the easy stuff.
Save The Fun for Last:
When there’s more than one practice item be strategic about the order in which we practice. Whatever you’re least excited about should be done first. Repeat this process until all that’s left is the most fun and exciting portion of the routine. If we do the hard stuff first and the fun stuff last we’ll be less likely to put it off til next time and may even spend more time than intended as we find ourselves inspired by our favorite music of the session.
As we’ve discussed in the past it’s okay to start small. Simply enacting one of the above suggestions will have a positive effect on the quality of our practice. You’ll be more productive and if done consistenly the results will pay off
As always if you have any thoughts or suggestions on the topic I’d love to hear them!
Looking forward to the music you’ll make!
Whether you’re a parent of a budding musician or a musician in the making yourself we all know how important practice is in reaching our goals. We’re also aware of the effort it takes to get to the practice room on a regular basis. Then when we get there we’re not sure of ourselves. Is there a better way to make use of this important time?
As a long time musician I can attest that it still takes great discipline to practice on a regular basis. My world is far busier than it’s ever been but I’ve developed some simple rules and techniques that I’ve applied to myself as well as my children. The results, while not perfect, have proved very satisfying and beneficial for both my kids and myself. They’ve shown to be positive in both musical and mental well being.
1. Start Small
If practice is almost non-existent start with a humble goal. I usually suggest doing 5 minutes more days than not. For example, make a commitment to practice for 5 minutes on 4 days this week. It may not sound like a lot but it’ll make a big difference especially if we’re coming up from almost no practice. After a few weeks of this add a few minutes to each session. Repeat the process until we’ve reached a sufficient amount of time and it becomes a habit.
2. Make It A Routine
If we wait for the right moment to practice we’re not going to practice. Make it a scheduled daily event. It should be something that if we miss we’re acutely aware of it. Schedule it.
3. It’s A Workout
The Webster’s Dictionary definition of practice is as follows:
– to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient
The key word here is “repeatedly”. Doing a thing over and over again is how we get better at something. The more we do it the better we’ll be and the better we leverage our time the more we’ll do it.
Set a timer for each practice item and play it again and again until the timer is up. We should treat practice like a workout. Just like we decide how far or how long we’re going to run before we get on the treadmill we should decide how long or how many times we’ll perform a specific musical exercise. Like a good physical workout if we do it with intensity and focus the results will be superior and we’ll make the best use of our time.
In the spirit of tip #1 I’m going to stop here and pick up where we left off in an upcoming post but in the meantime I encourage those of you who are struggling to practice consistently to try something small this week. Do it with focus and accomplish it with a well deserved pride. Great music is built one note at a time and so is a great musician.
Looking forward to the music you’ll make!,
Owner and Director
Here’s hoping everyone had a great summer!
And with summer over the school year is upon us. I’d like to share with you a reminder as to why we all value a music education and how it can help us in the classroom this year.
The following is an excerpt from a PBS article highlighting the ways that a music education can help a student far beyond the notes, scales, chords, and melodies they’re learning. Find the full article here.
“A study published in 2007 by Christopher Johnson, professor of music education and music therapy at the University of Kansas, revealed that students in elementary schools with superior music education programs scored around 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent higher in math scores on standardized tests, compared to schools with low-quality music programs, regardless of socioeconomic disparities among the schools or school districts. Johnson compares the concentration that music training requires to the focus needed to perform well on a standardized test.
Aside from test score results, Johnson’s study highlights the positive effects that a quality music education can have on a young child’s success. Luehrisen explains this psychological phenomenon in two sentences: “Schools that have rigorous programs and high-quality music and arts teachers probably have high-quality teachers in other areas. If you have an environment where there are a lot of people doing creative, smart, great things, joyful things, even people who aren’t doing that have a tendency to go up and do better.”
And it doesn’t end there: along with better performance results on concentration-based tasks, music training can help with basic memory recall. “Formal training in music is also associated with other cognitive strengths such as verbal recall proficiency,” Pruett says. “People who have had formal musical training tend to be pretty good at remembering verbal information stored in memory.””
All of us here at Bridgewater School of Music are wishing you a fruitful and musical new school year.
See you all soon!
A Great Time For Music and Art
One of our favorite things about the summer are the multitude of music and arts events available here in our area. We can’t stress enough how important it is to expose ourselves and our kids to live music and arts. It’s a crucial element in developing young artists. The experience and inspiration are things that can’t be found anywhere else except to experience real art and music in the flesh.
The folks at NJArts.net put together an exhaustive list of family friendly shows, concerts, and events to attend this summer. We encourage you to take the family out to one of these events. Maybe we’ll see you there!
Take advantage of some extra time this summer and get started learning to play and sing. We offer a handful of flexible lesson options during our Summer session (6/27 – 8/26).
4 30 minute lessons – $122
6 30 minute lessons – $175
8 30 minute lessons – $230
For more info email us at email@example.com or call 732-469-9559
A key point we bring up early on with our students (and/or parents) is the importance of ritual. Learning an instrument can only be fruitfully accomplished if practice time becomes part of one’s daily routine. As routine as eating a meal or brushing one’s teeth. Like any of these things we should be acutely aware that we missed it. It can’t be something where we wait until the time is just right that we now have time for it.
In Mason Currey’s book “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” you’ll find a collection of short recordings of ritual from some of the great musicians, novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians of the last few centuries. It’s an intriguing look into the routines of these titans, giving us a glimpse of the strategies and maneuvers that allowed them to produce their work.
While some of the examples may prove impractical, at the bare minimum one can surely pick up some ideas or inspiration. The importance of ritual is the common thread that runs through these achievers lives (also coffee, lots and lots of coffee) and we’re certain their example can help you and/or your loved ones achieve great things as well.