May 26, 2017

6 Things To Avoid While Practicing Music

Do you want to make practicing your instrument more effective and efficient? Would you like to learn songs quicker and get better results? Would you like to avoid practicing your instrument for hours and hours without achieving results?

There are a lot of mistakes that people, especially beginners, make while practicing their instrument. These mistakes can be avoided, and a lot of time can be saved by simply focusing on the right things. Down below is a list with explanations of six essential things to avoid while practicing music:

1. Practicing Without A Plan

Planning out your practice time and practice content will save you a lot of time practicing. Most people never think in advance and just begin practicing without a clear plan. Once they get half way, they will often realize that they have spent way too much time on something specific, and don’t have any time left that day to complete the rest of their practice.

By planning out when and what you are going to practice and for how long, you will get everything done that needs to be done. Infact, this will motivate you to practice more efficiently, because you have now given yourself a time limit to spend on a specific area of your playing. When you start planning your practice, results will follow quicker, because the time limits you set for yourself will force you to practice more effectively.

2. Not Playing In Time

One of the most important aspects while practicing your instrument is playing in the right time. Once you learn how to play in time, you are already a huge step ahead of most beginners. Even playing the simplest piece of music in the right time can be hard at first, which is why a lot of effort should be focused on it, especially at the beginning stages of your musical learning. Make sure that whatever or whenever you are practicing, you are doing it in the right time.

Using a metronome is a great way to improve playing in time, and it is a highly recommended tool for everyone who wants to learn their instrument. Starting from a low tempo and gradually getting faster is a great way to practice increasing speed on your instrument. Once you have studied using a metronome, it will be far easier to get the timing right without the metronome. Even experienced players need to use a metronome while practicing difficult pieces.

3. Attempting To Do Too Many Things At Once

As a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to focus on one thing at a time while practicing your instrument. If you try to focus on too many parts at once, or try to play through a lot of difficult content too early, chances are that you will not advance at all, or very little at most. You might come across some very difficult songs, which you will be forced to divide into smaller parts in the beginning. Simplifying and dividing your practice materials into parts and coming up with a step by step practice plan will motivate you to advance quicker, and make your practicing more straightforward.

4. Practicing Incorrectly/Carelessly

It is very important to always play the right notes and use the correct fingering while practicing. You want to avoid being careless, because if you are being careless at the practicing stage, how do you think you are going to be able to perform the song correctly in front of an audience? If you practice something in the wrong way, you will learn it in the wrong way, and the mistakes will be harder to correct in the future. If you learn how to practice correctly and precisely, you will also be able to perform well.

5. Practicing Inconsistently

It is advisable to practice on a consistent basis, and avoid taking long breaks from your instrument. E.g. it is better to practice for one hour every single day than it is to practice six hours every six days.  Especially if you are in the middle of practicing a new song, you should be doing it every day or at least every other day. That way you will not forget what you have previously learned and will keep up the momentum. A daily practice routine will also help you become more disciplined.

6. Focusing On The Wrong Things

There are so many things you can focus on while practicing you instrument that it is easy to get distracted and focus on the wrong things. A common mistake is that you might want to start from something too difficult or too fast, when you clearly aren’t ready for it yet. Or you might want to start correcting your expression before you have even learned how to play the first phrase of the song.

Another mistake is to learn something and get stuck playing the same thing over and over. Once you have mastered something, you don’t want to spend more time practicing the same part. Instead, you want to be focusing on the parts that you don’t know yet. So if you are playing a song and you know the beginning part of it well, what is the point of practicing it from the beginning? You can do a recap after you have mastered all the parts of the entire song.

A music teacher can help you get started on practicing songs and focusing on the right order to do things. But ultimately you want to be able to know how to approach a song and learn it on your own. That is why you want to carefully think and plan your practice schedule before you start, and keep a note of your progress.

© Matti Carter

About the author: Matti Carter is a professional musician and piano teacher in Tampere, Finland. Are you interested in learning and becoming great at the piano? Be sure to contact him for piano lessons.