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David's Tip of the Day: A Better Way to Practice by Noa Kageyama (and my thoughts)

David Barrett Admin's picture

A nice article shared to me by Jon Harl (thanks Jon) on how to improve the quality of your practice time. Under “How to Accelerate Skill Development” item 2, labeled “Timing is everything, too” I recommend you base what you’re practicing on your daily energy curve.

For example… My concentration level is highest in the morning. I perform my morning tasks and work diligently so that I have a window to practice between 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. I turn off my cell phone and get to work on the hard stuff, the material that requires my utmost attention. This might include challenging technique exercises or specific sections of a challenging song. I’ll refrain from playing what I know of that song until the very end, knowing that playing the song from the beginning to as far as I’ve practiced is not for learning, it’s for retention. I’m mentally tired after this practice.

I head off to work and then have around 30 minutes at lunch to practice. I’m not able to dig into as much material during this time, so I focus on smaller chunks, such as scales, arpeggios or anything that doesn’t require me to take out and setup practice material… I need to be able to just jump in and practice.

I get home in the evening and around 10:00 p.m. my brain is pretty toasted, so I just want to play. I watch an evening show and might play a bass line on the harp in 2nd Position and then figure out how to play it in 1st and 3rd Positions. This is fun and something that doesn’t require much thinking… I’m incapable of thinking too much after a long day. I usually only get 15 minutes in before I stop and succumb to the couch potato position.

Lastly, make sure that you (and family) make your practice time non-flex time. In other words it goes into your daily schedule and it doesn’t get moved for pressing matters of the day. As you work this practice time into your schedule you’ll start to relish this focused “me” time, it’s very relaxing and it may be the only time of the day that you truly get to dictate what you do.