The Key to Effective Music Practicing

Violins.Image via Wikipedia

There is a saying that captures a critical difference between how amateurs and professional musicians practice and learn difficult musical passages:

“The amateur practices until she gets it right. The professional practices until she can’t get it wrong.”

I once performed violin in an orchestra under maestro Anshel Brusilow, a wonderful conductor and former concert master of the Philadelphia Orchestra. During one rehearsal he presented his philosophy on the art of practicing and mastering difficult passages. He explained that his philosophy was to practice a passage until he could play it correctly five times in a row. After achieving this goal, he knew he had mastered the material and would proceed to the next challenge.

If your goal is to be an amateur musician, then practicing until you get a difficult passage right is far enough. But if you aspire to be a professional musician, then practicing until you can’t get it wrong will require more work, but bring greater rewards. By attaining the goal of playing a difficult passage five times in a row without any mistakes, you may attain professional mastery on any instrument.

by: Robert Padgett, TakeLessons instructor for violin lessons and piano lessons in Santa Rosa, CA. Robert is married with five children, performs violin and piano
professionally, and is an accomplished music instructor on violin, viola,
piano, music theory and composition.

Editor's Note: TakeLessons uses the Lessons Success Journal and online Music Practice Pages to keep track of all your goals, lessons, and practice times. Using these tools help you stay motivated and track your progress.

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1 reply
  1. Dyan
    Dyan says:

    I enjoyed reading the comments on becoming a better violinist. I’ve played the violin for several years, now, and still wonder how a professional violinist can pick up their violin the next day and sound so silky smooth?! I know, it wasn’t always that way. I wish so much I had started playing the violin when I was a child. I have been so devoted to my violin playing. I’m self taught and very cautious and aware of doing things correctly. I will continue doing the best I can. That’s all I can do?!


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