What is your practice routine?
You know what I find? That so many students actually do practice. They honestly do. But they just cover the material and then they are done.
I’ve found that so many of my students all through the years haven’t the foggiest notion of how to cover all the material in the allotted practice time. This group includes young beginners, to high school & college students, all the way up through adults.
When I was in high school, I thought I knew what to do. And I did… sort of. I definitely got the job done in my own fashion. But you wouldn’t really call it an efficient way to practice.
For starters, let’s just talk about how to divide up your time. You want to divide your practice time into thirds. Whatever time you have allotted to practice for the entire day divide that into 3 parts whether you are practicing for 30 minutes or 3 hours.
In this part, you will practice anything that has to do with tone and technique. If you have 30 minutes to practice, then you have time to do one technique exercise and one tone exercise.
On the other hand, if you’re going to practice for 3 hours, then you have time to do a great many tone and technique exercises. I know you are saying to yourself “60 minutes of tone and technique? I can’t fill up that time.”
Let me tell you, you can. I’ll write about this more in a later blog post.
Sometimes that means finding technique exercises on your own that weren’t assigned by your teacher. Heretical you say? Not at all. I love it when my students practice everything I tell them but also tell me they have discovered a technique or tone exercise that they love or are just experimenting with. I learned so much, and improved my technique infinitely more, when I experimented with other exercises and added them to what my teacher had given me.
I give my students exercises that I really like, but they certainly aren’t the only ones in the world. It’s a pretty big technique world out there.
Etudes. Yes. Etudes.
You have the privilege of filling up your 2nd section with etude practice. And yes, you can most definitely fill up an hour or more with etude practice. If you don’t know how that is accomplished, hang in there because I will write about that very thing in another post.
Your tone and technique can benefit in huge ways by practicing an etude with intensity. You have to approach etudes as if they were solos. In fact, some etudes, especially Anderson etudes, have been used in many competitions. If you practice, fully practice etudes you will work on tone, technique, concentration, and musicality. This section sets you up for the third and final section of you practice time: solos.
Ah yes, you have finally earned the right to practice solos. Until you have paid your dues in the first two sections of your practice, you have no business practicing your solos. Think of it this way:
Tone and technique are the appetizer.
Etudes are the main course.
Solos are the dessert.
Tone and technique is the appetizer that sets you up for good things to follow. Etudes are the main course, the meat and potatoes if you will. You really get a workout in your in etudes by the sweat of your brow. Solos are the dessert – the best and most fun part of your practice time. The reward for all your hard work is now lots more hard work with the solo at hand. However, it doesn’t feel so much like work because solos are why we practice.
In further posts I’ll write more in depth about all these sections. But for now this will get you started down the right path.
This practice thing is no joke. However, very intentional practice will help you to use your practice time to the fullest and accomplish more then you thought you could.