As a music teacher one of the most common questions I got was “How much do I need to practice?” Well, the simple answer to that is “How good would you like to be?”
I say it’s the simple answer because there are many factors involved but usually it all comes back to putting in the work. As a wise person once said “You can’t climb the ladder of success sitting on your bum”. Nothing really substitutes for hard work.
However much you decide to do is a personal decision but here are a few tips to get the most out of your practice.
- Pick a set time to practice and schedule it. Maybe pick a TV show you don’t like & practice then.
- It is better to do 30-40 minutes four times per week than 3 hours once a week.
- Make sure you do a variety of work and not the same thing over and over.
- Make time for new stuff. Keep moving forward.
- Make time for revision. Go back over stuff you’ve already learnt occasionally to keep it fresh.
- Spend a large amount of your practice using a metronome. Good timing takes practice and is essential no matter what your instrument.
Keep notes as to your progress. I write small pencil notes in my text books with tempos achieved etc.
- Make time to play along to the radio or a CD. Don’t just do exercises all the time.
- Do more than one thing at a time. I’m a sports nut so I quite often put a football match or some motor racing on the TV and practice while I watch it.
- Have an end result in mind. Set a goal to learn something new or to play something better.
Most of all have fun! If playing your instrument is a chore then your attitude is wrong. For me the most fun comes from playing things I couldn’t play before. Improvement is always fun. Remember that natural talent will only ever get you started. Anyone who is good at playing did so through practice.