A Guide to Great Music Practice
STEP 1 - Set Goals
Your practice should have long-term, medium-term, and short-term goals.
What are your long-term goals as a musician? Are there particular pieces of music you'd like to be able to play? A group that you'd like to join or form?
Knowing what you want to do will help you decide what you need to work on and help you set your medium- and short-term goals.
If you have a private teacher, she will automatically set your goals for you, based on your present strengths and weaknesses.
But if being able to improvise jazz or rock solos, or joining the local youth symphony, or being able to play or sing high notes are important personal goals, make sure your teacher knows it!
She may be able to give you a warm-up that will help improve and expand your high register or give you practice materials that will help you make the symphony auditions.
And don't be afraid to ask what her goals for you are and why. It may help your practice time to know where you are headed.
Your long-term goals will help set your medium-term goals.
What do you need to do be able to do to make first chair or to start your own rock band?
Improve your range, your reading ability, your tone quality, your tuning, your bowing or fingering technique? What method books would be most helpful? What less-difficult pieces will prepare you to play the pieces you can't play yet?
If it's difficult for you to decide what you need to work on, ask your teacher, your director, or another musician you respect for advice.
Your medium-term goals, plus any performances or lessons coming up soon, will determine your goals for this practice session.
You must be prepared for lessons, rehearsals, and concerts; and your director and teacher have chosen materials that will help you become a better musician.
If you do not have any lesson materials to work on, and your ensemble music is easy for you, then find materials that challenge you in the areas that you need to be challenged.
Stay focussed on what you want to accomplish right now, today, and on how that will help you get where you want to be.
Now read STEP 2 - Set Practice Times
Catherine Schmidt-Jones attended Rice University, completing a B.A. in chemistry as well as the B. Music and M. Music. Currently teaching brass and guitar privately. Further information can be found at connexions.