50 Things to Remember in the Practice Room
After a couple of weeks of intense practice we musicians tend to run in automatic mode. We know what to do and when to do it—but that doesn’t mean we are getting the most out of our routine.
That’s when we have to bring back a little consciousness to renew our contract with music.
Here’s what you should consider during your practice sessions:
1. Feel comfortable with the temperature of your cubicle. You can only learn when you are comfy.
2. Have all your accessories in one place.
3. Breathe and slow down—you are about to start something religious.
4. Focus on focus. Leave everything behind, clear your mind and enter the PRACTICE mode.
5. Warm-up! 15 minutes at least. Take care of yourself so you can make the art you love so much for years to come.
6. Stretch before playing your first note.
7. Have your pencil ready to jot down your progress and make markings.
8. Once you are ready to STUDY, keep your “mental control”. Focus on what you are learning—not about the pizza you’ll eat afterwards.
9. Use a mirror as part of your practice. See how you look like and what can improve your tone/performance.
10. Posture is essential to improve sound—and other things.
11. Prepare a plan before your sessions and stick to it. Know what each minute of practice is dedicated to.
12. Follow your plan no matter what. Trust your preparation beforehand.
13. Build the music. Don’t practice everything at once. E.g. The first hour you learn notes, the second intonation, then rhythm then everything together. Then everything separate again and building it one at the time for a couple of weeks. It’s a long process but it’s the most efficient.
14. Spend time building your technique. When inspiration finally arrives you will have a viable way to express yourself. Get into those etudes!
15. Listen to a lot of music and hear the professionals’ interpretations. Learn from styles and composers.
16. When you practice slowly, you forget slowly. Mr. Perlman said that!
17. The metronome is discipline’s no.1 ally.
18. Repetitions will engrave things in your brain forever.
19. Know the structure of your piece. A little music theory never hurt anybody 🙂 .
20. Imagine the rest of the orchestra while you play your part. Keep them in mind while performing.
21. Phrasing a line is making music. Not phrasing is playing notes.
22. Make a good dynamic contrast—but don’t lose the sound in the (p) pianos.
23. Style is what characterizes the piece.
24. Rhythms HAVE to be accurate.
25. Play in tune. All you have to do is: LISTEN. Mr. Perlman said that as well.
26. Read a book or two about the history of the composer you are interpreting.
27. Get free scores at imslp.org or get them on Amazon.
28. Once you know the style of a piece, you’ll perform the right strokes.
29. Vibrato has to be controlled.
30. Articulate! Play clean.
31. Coordinate both hands.
32. Re-check posture. You’ve been working a lot and might’ve move into a more comfortable position. Adjust.
33. Your breathing has to support your playing.
34. Take a break when your mind is exhausted, don’t waste time.
35. Stay hydrated to maximize efficiency. Drink a lot of water.
36. Take vitamin C to stay healthy.
37. Don’t Facebook while on breaks – stay with the music in your head as long as possible.
38. Keep your mind focused on what you practiced. Keep practicing in your mind. Think and rethink rhythms, notes, etc.
39. It’s all about surviving, really. Effective practice takes a huge amount of concentration. Survive your 3 hours session and then you can rest.
40. After a couple of hours you will leave the focus-house and that will be fine.
41. Push your limits. Stay longer if you can.
42. Leave when you are not productive, not when you get tired.
43. Remember: Practice is the only thing that will get you there.
44. You want to be good; then you have to give it all.
45. Be constant. Do it every day.
46. Move drip by drip and SMILE. There is no finish line.
47. Believe in your dreams and do give up what you are not passionate about. Then, follow what you are passionate until you get there. Enjoy the ride, and don’t stop until you reach it.
48. Remove distractions while working. It helps concentration.
49. Live a calm life.
50. Love what you do.
Now you have something concrete in your hands (a list)—it’s time to take action.
It’s fun and entertaining to read lists like the above but only when you take action can you improve your persona.
Remember: smart practice is a combination of:
· Knowing what to do
· Sticking to it no matter what.
I hope these items serve as inspiration to work at your best level.
FOR THE EMPIRE,