How to Optimize Practice Time
- "If only there were more hours in the day," you might think, "I could progress SOOO much faster." Well, I've got some great news for you! Although I can't add an hour to your day, I can give you an awesome tool that will help transform inefficient practice time into an Optimized Practicing Machine!
- Optimized Practicing Machine
The Optimized Practicing Machine is a fantastic, step-by-step method that helps students remain focused and develop an effective practice routine that leads to incredibly fast progress! This is by no means the only "right way" to practice; however, I have found this method to be super effective and efficient. Remember, it's important to customize your music practice to meet your needs and goals, so use this as your starting block and then make it work for you.
- 1. Warm-Ups
- Your warm-up should be based on your goals and experience. Here are some examples based on experience:
- Beginner: scales, arpeggios, chords + technique exercises
- Intermediate: all the above in multiple keys + control/strength-building exercises like Hanon
- Advanced: all the above in most or all keys + warm up specific techniques of focus
- 2. Piece Introduction
- Find the key(s) of the piece. Play the scale, arpeggio, and chords in that key to familiarize yourself with the key and to get in the zone.
- Look over the piece to get an idea of what will take place. Try looking for things like overall tone, dynamics, tempo, etc.
- Review your teacher's notes and suggestions for the piece. Find where in the music you can incorporate the suggestions from your teacher.
- 3. Tricky Spots
- Before you even think of playing through a whole section or the entire piece, ALWAYS start with the tricky spots. Otherwise, you will cement those tricky spots incorrectly into your mind and muscle memory, which is always a pain to correct afterwards. So, start off with the tricky spots and make your life easier!
- Take each tricky spot and work on it in its smallest form until it is perfected. Slowly, you can add a little bit more so you can transition smoothly in and out of the tricky spot, which should no longer be quite so tricky!
- 4. The Big Picture
- Now it's time to look at the big picture of the piece. What emotions should you be conveying? What did the composer intend with this piece? Etc, etc, etc. Since you have already worked on the tricky spots, you should now be able to work on the bigger picture more smoothly. Keep in mind, the bigger picture doesn't necessarily mean the whole piece- especially for you Intermediate and Advanced students. At first, it could mean a couple lines or a section, but eventually, the big picture will become the whole piece. Enjoy the journey as you develop the big picture for each of your pieces.
- 5. Repeat
- Repeat steps 2-4 (Piece Introduction, Tricky Spots, and The Big Picture) with each of your pieces.
- 6. End with a Bang!
- I think the most important key to making your practice routine work long-term is to always end while you're having fun. You could end by practicing your favorite assigned piece, reviewing an old favorite, sight-reading something new, or even listening to some music you aspire to learn. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you end every practice with a BANG by having fun!
- By practicing with 1st, warm-ups; 2nd, piece introduction; 3rd, tricky spots; 4th, the big picture; 5th, repeat (2-4); and 6th, ending with a bang; you're sure to find yourself progressing faster than ever before!
© 2014 Julie Hausen Music