Music Monday: How to Practice

practicing-guitar

Currently, my practice routine is this:
1) Warm up with scales and a few repertoire songs
2) Lesson work
3) Memorize new scale4) Repertoire

I aim for an hour a day, from 7pm-8pm because that’s the time I feel energized and focused. I also write out my goals for each practice session with notes for each goal after I complete (or try to complete) them.

So far this system is somewhat working, and while my repertoire and scales are getting memorized and growing, I’m nowhere near where I want my practicing to be. I think I’m setting too small/easy goals for myself and not doing enough. I can’t confidently say that this works for me so I’ve been tweaking it by reading articles on practicing…

The articles I read were about deliberate practice, which I like to call troubleshooting practice because you’re fixing problem areas; repetition, as well as other general tips and advice columns like practicing with a metronome and taking breaks after 30 minutes or an hour of practice. (I’m currently trying to do deliberate practice, which seems like the best way to practice music, or anything, really).

Before I came up with my current (and ever changing) practice regimen, I’ve been struggling with figuring out HOW to practice guitar. I asked a friend of mine how she practiced singing, and that didn’t go well because SHE doesn’t know how to practice either! I asked if she set goals before every session, like “I’m gonna memorize these two bars of lyrics,” and she said no. The only things she did tell me were that she warms up in the morning for 30 minutes, and if she has a recital she’ll practice for 2 hours…a day I think. Other than that she said that she practices “in her own way.” Whatever that means. (Obviously it’s not working because, she said herself that she’s not as good as she’d like to be).

Everybody has different practice schedules in terms of time and what they need to work on, but HOW to practice should be the same for everyone. How did the great athletes, musicians and chefs, among others, get so good? The takeaway I got from all of my reading and tinkering my schedule is that it’s not the quantity of your practice, but the QUALITY. Anyone can practice 5 hours a day, but it’s how they practice that matters and gets results.

I just have to figure it out and I’m slowly getting there.

How do you practice your instrument/craft? Do you do deliberate practice or practice “in your own way”? Are you where you want to be in your learning? Let me know in the comments!

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