Practice makes perfect, right? Almost. Practice is always central to any improvement in playing your musical instrument. Practice by itself is not enough though. To make genuine improvement you need to modify the old saying slightly.
“Practice makes perfect.”
“Perfect practice makes perfect.”
It’s a small but very important difference. What it means is that you need to always play with good “form”. Good “form” means playing the piece or exercise correctly before you worry about trying to play it fast. Pay special attention to details such as your posture and your technique in holding your instrument. For drummers such as myself this would mean paying attention to issues such as:
- Correct seat height. Your knees should be at 90 degrees or right angles when you are sitting with your feet on the pedals.
- Correct posture. Don’t be sitting slouched over. Sit up straight and be relaxed.
- Hold the sticks properly. Don’t grip them like clubs. Most of the grip is with the thumb and first finger. Some of the stick should poke out the back of your hand.
- Don’t be too aggressive. I have a bad habit of “trying too hard” sometimes when learning something new. It was a habit that one of my teachers picked up & I’ve made a bigger effort to relax when practicing.
- Don’t try to play new stuff too fast. Take the tempo right down and make sure you can play it at a slow speed correctly before trying it at performance tempo.
- Try using a mirror so you can watch your own technique.
No matter what your instrument or your experience level, we all need to learn new stuff from time to time. Ensuring you use good “form” when learning a new song will help you to be able to play it confidently and correctly when it counts.