You don’t have to practice every day, only the on the days that you eat. These are the famous words of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. To him, music helped him relate to the beauty within his world and become a more compassionate individual. I believe that practice is a key part of becoming a member of the music community we are trying to build. Every student should practice at least 20 minutes per day in the beginning. More serious students should spend more time preparing music.
Here is a list of steps to more effective practice:
1. Set a time for practice so you have a schedule of “when” you will practice each day.
2. Get the instrument out. As simple as it sounds, the most important step to practicing is to get the instrument out of the case.
3. Listen to the recordings of the music OVER and OVER. If you are reading music, listen to pieces with the music in front of you.
4. Play the hard parts correctly before ever “practicing” the whole piece.
5. Don’t start at the beginning of the pieces you are playing. If you get to the hard parts and keep making mistakes, you are practicing how to make mistakes, not how to play the piece.
6. Practice makes permanent, so don’t keep playing a part wrong. If you make a mistake, stop playing that section until you figure out how to avoid the mistake. If you can’t do it on your own, circle it then get help from your teacher.
7. Play your music slowly. The more slowly you learn something, the more slowly you forget it. (I once heard the great violinist Itzak Perlman say that.)
8. Listen to yourself for good tone.
9. Listen to yourself for precise rhythm.
10. Listen to yourself when you play for correct tuning.