Tips for Reaching Your New Year's Practice Goals
Beginning a musical instrument is really exciting. Learning how to play it and making progress can also be really hard work. Here are a few tips on setting and sticking to your musical goals.
The most important point, is that parental involvement is absolutely necessary. Playing music is really fun, but practicing and concentrating hard on tiny details isn’t always exciting. When parents take the responsibility of enforcing practice time, kids begin to see their progress and become more excited about music. The second most important thing to remember is that with beginning children, a little bit of practice every single day goes a really long way. And by a little bit of practice I mean just five or ten minutes maximum. Just enough time to make some progress, but not enough time to get fatigued or bored. Also, if you can, link practice time to another part of your daily routine that already exists. For example, always practice right before dinner, or right before getting ready for bed.
The most important thing to remember is be patient with yourself. Many adult music students have forgotten what it is like to learn a new skill. They feel clumsy or even embarrassed when they have difficulty doing a seemingly simple task.
Don’t ever let yourself feel bad for finding things difficult. Starting the guitar is tricky for everyone. In many respects, adults can learn more easily than children, because they’re more self disciplined and more self aware. Another important consideration for adults is that regular lessons are really important. However, regular lessons don’t always mean weekly lessons. Weekly lessons are great for children, but a lot of adults find that biweekly or even monthly lessons gives them more time to digest the material and feel really prepared for their next class. So find the time interval for lessons that gives you enough time to feel ready for classes and then stick to it. Also, schedule your next lesson immediately after your last one, so that the upcoming class motivates you to carve out time in your schedule for practicing.
1. What suggestions do you have for implementing a practice schedule?
Set a schedule that is consistent. Start with a daily schedule of practicing 15-30 minutes in a location that has no distractions. Have all your materials needed to practice. This includes music, instrument, chair and pencil. Practicing everyday will eventually become a habit which will help you become a better musician and making music will be fun.
2. What are the top 3 things that motivate you to practice?
When I have a performance to prepare for I am motivated to practice so I will be ready to play to the best of my ability. I enjoy keeping up my music skills so I will be ready for a performance that may come up at the last minute and making music makes me happy and puts me in a good mood.
3. What are the most important parts of practice?
The most important parts of practice are setting a plan on how to practice and achieving goals that are set by the student, parents and music teacher. A practice session should start with a warmup of playing scales and warmup exercises to work on good tone and range. The second part of the practice session should consist of slowly playing difficult technical passages until mastered then increasing to the written tempo. The practice session should end with a fun and easy piece and motivates to practice again the next day.
The teacher should set small goals during each lesson. These goals include playing a scale or a piece of music in a musical manner. The teacher will need to write the goals in a notebook. The student should look over the goals before each practice session. It is very important that the student understands what the small goals are and the timeline set to meet these goals. Once the scale or piece of music is performed in a musical manner then the teacher will need to reward the student with positive feedback and encourage the parents to reward the student.
4. What would you recommend to a beginner to avoid feeling discouraged?
A musician beginner may want to learn how to play an instrument because they love the sound of it. They start lessons and see it takes many hours of practicing and become discouraged and quit. Before time and money is invested to start music lessons parents need to observe the child to see if they are truly interested in music and willing to devote the effort to become a successful musician. The parents need to see if the child shows some musical talent and enjoys listening to musical performances. Once it is established that he/she is truly interested in playing a musical instrument, find a teacher that communicates with the student and parents what goals are set to become a successful musician.
5. How do you suggest a student finds the right teacher?
If a student is looking for a teacher on Lessonface.com find a teacher that offers a 15 minute lesson trial. During the lesson trial the teacher and student needs to discuss what are the big goals he /she would like to reach. For example, would the student like to learn the foundations skills of playing the instrument or get ready for a performance or audition? Also the student needs to show what level of a musician they are and the teacher will set goals to build their skills from the level they are on.