A guest post by Renee Bailey
It’s an idiom that we’re all familiar with but are you actually putting it into practice (no pun intended)? As musicians, we all know that you must practice to improve our craft. What truly represents good practice is tough to sometimes know. Everyone has their favorite scale exercises, circle breathing exercises, favorite fretboard practices, bowing exercises, or vocal warm ups. It is very easy to get stuck on repeating certain exercises over and over again and feel like we’re practicing. And yes, that IS practice, but sometimes you have to take yourself to the next level of training. There are sometimes in order to jump to a new level in our music or art, we have to find new ways to practice. Here are some tips I’ve come up with to assist with your musical or artistic endeavors:
Do your due diligence. Be constantly searching for new techniques. We’ve gotten to the point where almost anything you care to know is on the internet. Make use of YouTube lessons and electronic music theory books. Find all the tutorials you can possible find because there is almost always something you can learn from them.
Look up your musical or artistic inspirations. Find out the “who”, “where” and “how” of how they studied. If you find out who inspired them and study their influences, it can guide you to resources that you may otherwise have overlooked. It may lead you to a conservatory you’d never heard of, or a teacher, agent or manager that you can aspire to work with. All of which can enhance your knowledge of the field of music and art. The true greats of any art consider themselves life-long learners. They are always looking to find out the secrets of and training with the best people in their field. That’s how they are able to move from being “unknown” to “known”. Find out the exercises they used or learned along the way.
Never take a break from practice. As my guitar instructor once said, learning an instrument is like rolling a boulder uphill. With each practice, you’re rolling the boulder a little further up. If you stop practicing, the boulder doesn’t just stop, it starts rolling back down the hill.
Have fun! Practice should never be onerous. It should be a light, relaxing and fun experience. The moment it becomes a dull and lifeless drill, that’s when you have to mix things up and try something new. The moment you feel any stress about being perfect in practice, you’re on the wrong track. If either of these descriptions sound like you, I highly suggest you read the book Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner. You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make.
Renee Bailey is the owner of Know Better, Do Better Education. Renee is a teacher, writer, and business owner – inspired to make sure that today’s high school students enter college equipped to do their best. She is the author of 18 Things College Students Need To Know. A must have book for parents and students preparing for college.