How To Practice Music With Better Results

in Practice
As any serious musician knows, practicing your instrument is one thing, practicing correctly is another. The goal is to consistently make the correct beautiful sounds that comprise the piece or exercise we are learning. This takes playing skill and technique, which takes the correct practice.

Try this coaching for making your practice count.

Don't start out trying to go faster than your fingers want to go. A big part of learning an instrument is creating muscle memory for the fingerings used. The more we practice these fingerings correctly, the less conscious attention on our part they take to do. It's like learning to type using the right fingers for the right keys. At first we have to consciously practice taking our right index finger off of its rest position on the letter "j" and moving it one space to the left to type the letter "h".

Quickly our brain "learns" where the letter "h" is and which finger to use to press it. The brain instructs the right index finger to move to the left, press the "h" then move back to rest position. It feels unnatural at first just like tying our shoes did when we were learning. But, just like with shoe tying and typing, the muscle movements required to play something specific on an instrument get ingrained if we practice slowly and allow the movements to become relaxed and natural.

If we don't give our fingers the chance to learn the movements slowly, they often fight with what our brains are telling them to do. By practicing in a relaxed, methodical and slow fashion, tension is overcome and muscle memory comes quicker.

Work on a short section at a time. By section I mean a particular group of notes and/or chords. If you're just learning, a section might just be a couple of chord or note changes. If you're very accomplished it could be more. But regardless of your experience, keep the sections relatively short. The less movements your fingers need to actually do the easier to program the movements into the fingers and not have to think about it. The smaller the sections, the easier it is to concentrate as well.

Practice overlapping the sections. Start with the end of one section and go directly into the initial few changes of the next section to help build continuity.

By practicing the motions slowly and methodically, you'll quickly develop muscle memory, but then begin going in spurts. Start the short section and allow your fingers to continue through without guiding them.

Errors should be corrected before moving forward. Repeating errors gets them ingrained in your muscle memory the same as practicing anything else. And it can take much longer to unlearn a mistake then it does to learn correctly in the first place. When you mess up, pause. Think about the pattern you want to play. Do it again, but much slower.

Break up your exercises with short rests. Learning the muscle memory required to play an instrument takes concentration. It's easier to concentrate in spurts followed by rest periods. Practice your section a few times and then break for 20 to 40 seconds and re-focus.

Don't make practice sessions long and intense. Studies have shown that shorter sessions work better for learning than longer ones. After 4 hours or so, your brain chemistry actually alters and makes retention more difficult. By resting for a few minutes every half hour or so and limiting the overall length of your practice to a maximum of 4 hours, you'll actually learn better.

Using these tips will help you practice more efficiently and give you better results.
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Marc J Davis has 1 articles online


Marc Davis is an entrepreneur and stay at home dad. Check out his latest website for buying advice on Computer Ink Cartridges. Find articles on Brother Printer Cartridges, Cheap Printer Cartridges and more.

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How To Practice Music With Better Results

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This article was published on 2010/10/22