When I was much younger and taking piano lessons, I would dread those words “Go Practice”.   I don’t think I knew how to practice.  I had a “piece” and I’d play it a few times and be done.   We all know that doesn’t really work and it’s not surprising that I didn’t last long taking piano lessons.  My sister, however, did practice.  At one point she changed to a high level teacher and would spend what seemed like HOURS sitting on the floor, playing one note.  Yes, she was playing the piano.  One note,  over and over.    It was dreadful and I don’t know how she did it.  You should hear her today.  She is amazing and can play anything with both technique and musicality.   I didn’t try again until I was 50 and decided I’d play the cello.  Again, I didn’t understand the concept of practice and for years did the same thing.  Got a piece, came home, played if for a week and moved on to the next piece.  And for 4 years I sounded the same.   Like a 7 yr old learning to play.   Fortunately alone the way I met a variety of new teachers.  I learned that there is so much more to practice and that while practice may include playing, it often does not.

Some basics to learning are that repetition works.  It helps to have a set time and place to practice where you are organized with your chair and stand, good lighting, pencils, markers, your metronome, and anything else that makes this process easier for you.  A place without interruptions is best.   You also need a plan.  Start with whatever you want to play the least and end with the dessert, or whatever you want to play the most.    The point is that this has to become a habit, like brushing your teeth.   You want to play, you want to improve, and practice is the path to that end.  Besides, you do love to play! Just make the process easier and you’ll enjoy it more.


2 thoughts on “Practice – a good habit

  1. Thanks for mentioning me in your blog, Nancy. I remember doing that sitting on the floor playing the same note repetitiouslyand, even had to put a towel between the hammers and the strings. Did you know that?

  2. David B Teague says:

    My teacher once said to me that she knew I’d play a particular segment 10,000 times, as Dr. Suzuki recommends, but she was concerned that enough of the repetitions would be close enough to correct that they would count.
    She said, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Perfect practice makes perfect.”
    Practice has to be perfect, or at least the aspects that being studied in the chunk of music being worked on at the moment have to be correct.
    That means one must be quite judicious about my choice of tempo: Not so slow that I kill my arm with the bow, and yet slow enough that I can think about everything being studied at this time in this segment.
    And _THAT_ means the chunk has to be short enough that all this can actually be thought about while it is being done.
    So you recommend I do the hard stuff in bits and pieces FIRST, and wait for the fun stuff that I play well and is rewarding later.
    I like that. Thank you.

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