What should I be practicing?
Everyone knows that all musicians need to practice daily. But what exactly should we be practicing?
One of my best music teachers once said to me: "Tonight go home and make up a big list of all the things you are good at. Then make a list of all things you are bad at. Throw out the first list, the second list is your practice list" It may seem like common sense, but I have found that most students spend too much time on their strengths and nowhere near the necessary amount of time on their weaknesses. Our weaker points in each task should be prioritized so that we focus our efforts in these areas, especially; early in our practice routines, whilst our concentration is better.
At Caroline Springs School of Music we recommend that students practice the following:
*Technical work (scales, arpeggios and exercises from their current exam grade) at least 3 times each, 10 times or more is better! Practicing scales once each is inadequate, once is a warm up, not practice! It can be a good idea to sometimes leave scales and technical work to last and work on repertoire early in the practice session.
*Repertoire - each exam piece or currently learned section 3 to 5 times per day. Once per day is a warm up, not practice! Songs from method books and other sources should also be worked on regularly.
*Aural - some ear training should take place at home, not just in the lesson. A good site is; www.goodear.com, we also have aural exercises in the student area of the website.
*General knowledge, once again, we have worksheets in the student area of the website that cover all the necessary general knowledge for each grade.
*Sight Reading - the next page or exercise in our method books and or the specific ANZCA sight reading books for each instrument are all invaluable here.
*Free choice. It is important to that our practice remains fun and that we are always playing music that we enjoy, don't allow your practice to become mundane or a chore. Experiment with the instrument, improvise, play freely. Ask your teacher for help here. Christopher Norton books are great fun and very effective at teaching improvisation.
As always, please feel free to call or email Caroline Springs School of Music if you have any questions. Until next time, have fun practicing!