Whatever your age, summer has a sneaky way of getting you to relax and slip into vacation mode as soon as the sun hits your skin. But it’s important to keep yourself challenged and focused on your music goals, so as to not lose any of your progress. Read on for some helpful tips from Addison, TX, teacher Camie S…
Summertime and practice are like oil and water for some students – they just don’t mix very well. Let’s face it, we all lose some motivation to stick with our practice routine once school is out of session, and that goes for teachers and students alike! Practicing is like exercising though, and if you don’t do it, you’ll (musically) get out of shape.
Fortunately, you can establish an effective and efficient practice schedule that focuses on the quality of your practice instead of the quantity.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “practice makes perfect.” Good news! It doesn’t.You read that right! Practice doesn’t make perfect, it just makes permanent. Our brains are like high-tech computers – what we practice and HOW we practice programs our eye-hand coordination, memory and artistic expression. If you rush through practice time just to get it over with, you aren’t effectively programming your brain to learn a song. In fact, you’re teaching yourself to play a song just the way your practice.
To avoid this, you’ll need to learn to focus during practicing so you can have better results each session. Here are some ways you can accomplish that:
1. Have an organized routine: Props to you if you’ve established a practice regimen which includes warm ups, technique and your performance songs. Your regimen should consist of routinely work on all skills, but also variety with how we practice those skills. Avoid the practice rut by switching up the scales, warm-ups and songs you play each time.
Remember, you’re programming your brain, and you want a well rounded skill level. If you play the same things all the time, that’s what you will be accomplished at playing. The logic of the statement is beyond compelling, I know, but you’d be surprised how many musicians (myself included) fall into this practice rut because it’s easier to play what we know, like, and are good at. Break out of that rut and switch up your routine!
2. Divide and Accomplish: Decide what you want to tackle before you start practicing, and work on a particular song or technique instead of trying to do a little bit of each song, skill set or warm-up. Divide tasks and obstacles into small, manageable pieces. This is ideal for learning music and you’ll accomplish much more!
3. Practice for the final result: You may not have a lot of time to spend practicing, so focus during the time you have! Even in your warm-up, practice with purpose. It’s essential that you practice technique during your warm-up period, otherwise you may not improve or maintain technique at all. Practice the way you want the final result to sound, and resist the temptation to go into autopilot mode! If you plan on playing a crescendo later, practice it now. If you make a mistake, go back and play just that portion until you’ve programmed your brain to play it correctly. Your final result will sound much more polished, and you’ll be able to play without hesitation or inhibition because you’ve programmed yourself to play it the correct way.
When it comes to practicing during the summer, you can have your cake and eat it too! Go out and have fun, but keep your music skills sharp by making the most of your practice time with these strategies.
Camie S. teaches piano, music performance, music theory, and songwriting to students of all ages in Addison, TX. Camie joined the TakeLessons team in May 2012, and her specialties include classical and contemporary music. Sign up for lessons with Camie, or visit TakeLessons to search for a music teacher near you!