Getting started with classical music training is only the start of the journey, we all need to practice and here are some of the best classical music practice tips to help you develop and grow.
Find A Quiet Place
This might seem obvious but it will not only make you far less likely to succumb to distractions but entering a designated practice are whether it is just the corner of your living room or a particular room helps to mentally prepare you for this kind of work. Mindful intention means a lot and you can help set this intention by having a ritual in place of going to the same place each time.
2. Ready Your Supplies
Cellist David Finckel has a 100 video series on YouTube known as “Cello Talks” where he says that you do not even need to play the cello to get much out of most of them. Part of what he covers might seem like very basic advice such as the discussion of his practice space. He advices his audience to keep a very clean eraser along with a pencil sharpener close by as well as a pencil for marking up music. This seems simple but it is one of those little things that are easily forgotten and you can easily waste a lot of time if you have to start searching for them. A top classical music practice tip to keep in mind!
3.Technology As A Training Aid
Technology is an amazing aid but only if you do not spend too much time fiddling with it. I have 3 low-cost or free apps on my iPad a phone: a timer, a tuner, and a metronome since they are important practice tools. I also carry my phone with me everywhere (as most of us do) so it’s technology you can trust to have to hand.
4. Classical Music Tip – Start With an End in Mind
Always have a goal for every practice session before you begin playing. Simply playing music is not the same thing as practicing. You should think about what you would like to accomplish that particular day before you begin. If you aren’t too sure about what to focus on, you can ask your teacher / mentor for several concrete goals you can work toward before the next lesson. Note these goals down so that you are able to refer to them in your practice sessions.
5. Mapping Classical Music Practice Sessions like Workouts
Many musicians love starting with some breathing exercises and a few stretches before they ever pick up any instrument. Even if you don’t reach that extent, a relatively common scenario is to warm-up using scales to loosen up the muscles and get the brain thinking about technique. Next, move to the “working” part that involves analyzing and attempting to solve problems. Finally, cool down by improvising or revisiting music that you already know well.
6. Practicing Smarter, Not Necessarily Longer
If you have a focused objective you can easily accomplish much more within a shorter amount of time. Science even tells us that the amount of willpower that you can draw upon is limited. You thus need to make the most of the time available to you. Assume that you are having problems with a couple of tricky measures. Set a timer for a short period (say 5 to 10 minutes), then focus exclusively on one problem in as many ways as possible. You can even break it down into successively smaller and manageable bits, go very slow, change the rhythm, and try playing the passage backward, whatever. If you still have problems with that trouble spot, make a mental note to come back to it again tomorrow. It is highly likely that it will be much easier then.
7. Classical Music Practice Tip – Don’t Always Start At The Beginning Each Time
Don’t forget about maximizing your willpower and time. It feels quite good to hear yourself playing beautifully at the beginning of a piece but you can easily find yourself wasting the limited energy and time that you have. It can also lead to performances that start strongly but wilt along the way.
8. Challenging Yourself
This refers to challenging yourself physically. This is particularly important if you are attempting to wrestle down a problematic element. Scientific research say that adding a physical challenge to a difficult task such as attempting to play the part while walking or standing on one leg forces the brain to start creating new neural pathways. When you resume doing the original task, it will be much easier.
9. Practicing Away From Your Instruments
Visualization is a tool that many musicians use just as athletes do: They run through music without actually touching any instruments. When you have some downtime such as during a train or car journey, you can try bringing your music along with you either on a mobile device or on paper then read through it silently. Envisage yourself practicing but only in your mind, you will be amazed how much of an impact this visualization can have.
10. Rewarding Your Hard Work
To help the brain automate good habits, you need to reward hard work in a positive way. This might sound like plain old bribery but it is backed by science. Charles Duhigg, who authored The Power of Habit writes that finding something that the brain likes helps it remember the “habit loop”.
What do a first violinist, second violinist, violist and a cellist need in order to play completely together?
(it’s not a light-bulb joke 🙂 )
The Answer: Get Uncomfortable
Counting calories is uncomfortable, so is practicing at 6 am. But what choice do we have? What about the results you are seeking?
Quartet rehearsal is not comfortable when the violist keeps rushing (we violinists never, ever, ever, ever rush, especially when playing 1st). Wouldn’t it be great if you all just play it incredible the first time?
But it isn’t that way.
So, how do we deal with being uncomfortable?
Fear no more! I’m here to lead the way! (Cheers, applause, mass noise, wooooooo). Thank you, thank you!
First of all, if you think about it, uncomfortable doesn’t mean you are in pain.
It means you are not within your comfort zone.
And that is also OK because when you jump out of your comfort zone, you explore new possibilities.
If my math is right, you’ll be exposed to a bizillion new things (good and bad) that you weren’t exposed before when you sat in your comfort zone. Exposure will leads to experiences and experiences will make you smarter. Isn’t that what everybody wants?
Is there any way at all I can make the uncomfortable
YOU CAN’T. But there are some tricks you can use to soften the process and still get incredible results.
How to be Ok with Uncomfortable
* Savor Every Moment – Put your first vegetable in your mouth and touch it lightly with your tongue. Now chew. It tastes bad but it’s not painful. Immerse yourself in the flavor, even if it gets uncomfortable, realize there is no pain. I bet you never tried this way before. Repeat the process various days and see if it gets better.
* Realize you are not alone – There are 7 billion people with the same problem. For them a couch is more comfy than flossing. Uncomfortable will always be uncomfortable, you can only learn how to soften the impact.
* Become the Hulk – Man up! Scream, awhhhahhhahahahhhh for a few seconds and just do it. Then freak out!
* Get a little uncomfortable – Start waking up at 10 am. The next day at 9:50 am, then 2 days later 9:40 am and so on, until you reach 7 am. Changes are gradual—otherwise you won’t succeed.
* Look for it – Find discomfort and get into it. Practice being uncomfortable and adjusting. Keep thinking about the results.
* Observe yourself – Develop the ability to see yourself running away from discomfort. Go back and say: “No, I’m learning to take discomfort” and then immerse again.
ARE YOU PART OF THE EMPIRE YET?
What is exactly is being productive? Does it mean staying focus for a period of time? Is it what I need to do in order to play at my best level?
Those were some of the questions I asked myself when I first approached the term productivity. I wanted a straight to the point guide. How can I prepare the Tchaikovsky concerto the fastest, easiest and most effective way?
Fear no more! I will explain productivity with stuff I’ve tried and what others have taught me.
Here we go!
If you subscribe to my colleague Dr. Noa Kageyama at his Bulletproofmusician blog, you will get a Practice Hacking Guide. This guide will get you on the right track.
It is evident that you need to be willing to work hard in order to change bad habits for good ones, but keep in mind that as a musician you’ve already build strong elements to do it. By spending many hours in the practice room you already considered a disciplined individual.
Now, the question is—how long should I practice?
Here are some good answers to that question! (You can come back after reading the whole post) J
Today I want to provide you with an effective productivity plan. Not just my opinion on how long you should practice but more like how to take 100% of your efforts home.
In order to take advantage of every second you destined to practice, you must have a plan.
What do you want to accomplish?
How are you going to do that?
What strategies are you going to use?
How long will it take?
Planning a practice session is like planning out your life. You give direction and try to reach those goals while preparing other tasks. You can’t waste time—it’s limited.
Let’s say that you have 30 minutes to practice.
How would you get the most out of it?
How do you take 100% of your efforts home?
With 30 minutes you can easily take a big excerpt of music and work many things. Hopefully you picked a hard passage. Pick some technical as well as some musical problems.
5 minutes| tuning each note. Slowly watching your fingers from note to note
5 minutes| figuring how you would phrase that passage
5 minutes| actually playing the phrase with dynamics, etc.
5 minutes| repeating hard fingerings, bowings,etc. Cleaning everything up.
10 minutes| using the metronome and trying to get it up to tempo.
30 minutes will change the life of those measures forever. You were completely focus on those measures and actually worked things separately. You can even combine tasks by working on technical and musical problems at the same time.
I can personally focus for only 40-50 minutes at a time. After that, I am not really100% concentrated. I get distracted and start playing things without thinking much.
Many experts on the subject talk about 50 minutes practice and 10 resting (1 hour of work).