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How to get the most out of your practice routine

We have all heard the statement “practice does not make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect.” Finding effective practice methods and efficient time management is essential to our musical progress. It’s important to know how to practice effectively. If you follow our program and practice methods at Caroline Springs School of Music you will make the progress that would normally take seven years in one year.

  • Understand that You are your own best teacher. Our teachers can only guide you and give you direction, it is up to the individual to learn the material and make it of relevance to them.

  • Practicing should always be fun. In a letter to his son the great Albert Einstein advised that he practice piano pieces of his own choosing. “That is the way to learn the most... When you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice the time passes.”

  • Practice in short sessions, keep the subject matter moving around during practice sessions. We all have short attention spans and this way you will retain a lot more of what you have practiced.

  • When you identify a problem spot in a piece, turn that spot into an exercise. Play it over and over and you may just turn it into your strongest section of the music.

  • Practice slowly at first and gradually build tempo – best to use a metronome at least every other day.

  • Find a place to practice where you can concentrate - no TV, or other distractions.

  • Be patient, learning an instrument is a lifetime affair, you don’t have to master everything just now.

  • Remember to spend a little time warming up, don’t jump straight into strenuous material. Start with something easy.

  • Try to learn new material near the start of your session while you are fresh and attention levels are high.

  • Test yourself – see if you can play new phrases three times in a row without error.

  • Always be mindful of good tone and being in tune, practice how we play.

  • If you are serious about music and you are practising less than an hour a day then I am sorry but you are just kidding yourself.

  • The great violinist Niccolo Paganini (considered by many to be the greatest virtuoso of all time) practiced 16 hours every day. How much do you practice?

For those of you who may be interested the following is my Ten hour daily practice regimen from 1988-1996. As I was performing professionally at nights I was virtually never without a guitar in my hands during this period. Since 96 to the present I have practiced anywhere from 3-6 hours a day and I feel I am still making good progress. HOWEVER there is still so much to learn and that’s what makes it all so much FUN!

  • 8am – Technique – Exercises, Scales, Arpeggios - Coffee

  • 9am- Technique – Etudes, Alternate picking, Crosspicking - Breakfast

  • 10am- Technique – Speed picking, Paganini – Caprice No5

  • 11am – Chords, harmony, theory

  • 12 midday –Improvisation – modes etc

  • 1pm – Jazz standards – memorization, melody and chord changes

  • 2pm Lunch - Rest

  • 3 pm - Classical guitar repertoire

  • 4pm – Transcribing – Jazz solos on all instruments

  • 5pm - Improvisation

  • 6pm- Composition

  • 7pm Rest and dinner

  • 9pm-midnight – Gig

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