This article is an attempt to explain the most successful methods of practicing the playing of a musical instrument. Practicing too much or for too long can have the opposite effect to the desired one of becoming a more accomplished musician.
Practicing the playing of musical instrument requires several aspects to be considered.
1. The practical requirements. These are the keys to press on a keyboard, the tonguing of a reed instrument, the finger position on the neck of a stringed instrument or perhaps the lip action of a brass instrument to name but a few of the practical requirements.
2. The music requirements. These are to understand the music and be able to read it at a reasonable speed to suit the music to be played. Interpretation is obviously important too.
3. Coordination. The musician’s hands, eyes, possibly mouth all need to be completely coordinated.
Much of this has to be practiced at the same time; however, some areas can also be practiced individually. In particular, music can be studied as a standalone subject. Many methods of practicing note recognition and methods of speeding up reading of music are available from a wide range of sources. A musical instrument teacher will have their own favorite method that they will happily recommend.
Daily practice is the most beneficial. However, the idea of practicing for hours each day I feel, is misguided. Ten to fifteen minutes a day is more than enough time to practice as long as it is done every day of the week. Practicing longer allows bad habits to be reinforced. Long practice sessions produce tiredness, which leads to sloppy playing and the reinforcement of poor playing. Ten minutes practice a day ensues that the student is fresh and plays at their best.
Each practice session should concentrate on one thing, not several. Finger exercises can be done at the beginning of a practice session for a short time. If practicing a piece of music that is being found difficult it should not be abandoned in favor of learning the next piece of music. Break down the difficult piece into bite-sized pieces to enable the source of the difficulty to be overcome before returning to play the whole piece of music. If the piece of music is particularly difficult, a short break, or playing of an easy piece that is already known can be beneficial.
Where possible, practice should be done without external distractions, a quiet time of day when the student can be alone is favorable.
Where possible, music should be studied separately to improve understanding of music and improve reading times.
Practicing the musical instrument will then be more successful without the worry of not being comfortable with the music itself.