If you are too good to practice, raise your hand….
We are talking about Practice???
Yes, we are going to talk about practice.
No matter your skill level, experience level or age practice is the only way you will learn new material, learn a new instrument, retain the skills you have already learned and/or progress your music theory firsthand knowledge.
Think of an NFL QB who just won a super bowl the year before…They are at the top of their game, champions of the world…do you think they stop practicing? Do you think Brady, Elway, Montana, Farve or any of those guys just showed up one day and could beat the best of the best….obviously not.
On the Bluegrass side we marvel at the touring bands and their tight harmonies, complicated arrangements, stellar musicianship and sheer talent. You hear a brand new song from Balsam Range and think…wow those guys are good. How do you think that happens??? They practice constantly. I doubt 48hrs goes by where high level musicians don’t touch their instruments or practice their material.
Enough about why you should Practice… lets talk about ways of making “actually practicing” easier.
There are so many things for a person to do in todays world. Outside of work and normal household chores you have TV, Streaming Video, Facebook, Youtube, video games, sports and so many other “Time Consuming” tasks presented to you in the easiest to consume way possible. You barely have to click a button and you have hours of endless entertainment poured into your brain.
How do you fit time to practice in while “Life” is going on??
The trick is, to remove as many hurdles as possible. Here are some tips & tricks to trick yourself into practicing.
- Keep your instruments out of the case: Having an instrument on a stand close by to where you rest your feet can remove the “Laziness” hurdle from you not practicing. Obviously this might not be ideal for households with small children our curious pets.
- Form a routine: Many experts say the best way to get yourself to start doing any task is to mold it into your daily routine. Pick a time each day to sit down for 30-60mins and practice. It will be hard at first but it will eventually become second nature.
- Set an Alarm: A frequent pitfall for most is just flat out forgetting to practice. (this is kind of #2b) Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to practice for a time. I have found that just before dinner or just before bed usually are the best times to get your time in.
- Make a space: set up a space inside your living quarters to practice in. it should have a comfortable seat, your instruments on a stand, and materials to learn from. This could be a closet, a bedroom or anywhere you can play without causing your roommates too much shrieks when you scratch out a number on the fiddle.
- Cut out distractions: The biggest hurdle to practicing as we stated above is distractions. Turn of your cell phone, tv and anything else that might keep you from putting in the work.
- Set Goals: You should always try to set a goal for yourself so that you get some kind of accomplishment for the work you put in. Pick a cool song or fancy lick to work on along with your normal material so you can check your progress.
- Record Your material to practice with: If you are in a band setting use a phone app, or a physical recorder to record the material you need to work on for the band that way you will be able to play with it directly instead of guessing at the speed, timing and phrasing of how your band does that tune.
- Change it up: Even though you might be focused on playing one instrument, learning another (or learning that particular song on another instrument) will not only keep things fresh in your brain but it can also give you insight into how the song plays out from a different angle.
- LISTEN TO THE MATERIAL: The biggest mistake folks tend to make when practicing is failing to listen. When possible, play the song you are learning dozens of times so that you hear all the elements that make that song different. Sometimes it takes a few times through before you notice key item that you didn’t hear before.
- Practice how you will play: While making yourself comfortable while practice can defiantly help keep you doing so, you would get the most value out of practicing in the way you plan on playing that instrument/song. If you’re in a band that plays standing up around one mic, it will be valuable to practice doing that. You may not notice it, but how you hold your instrument while actually performing the tune can change how you play it.