Practice That Works is a website dedicated to helping music students find the right things to practice and the best ways to organize their practice time. In my many years of teaching I have found that most music students aren’t sure what they should be practicing (i.e. they don’t know what they don’t know), and even after they find the right direction they often have a hard time making their practice time productive and efficient.
Three Different Levels of Practice That Works Information
The Practice That Works website contains three levels: Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced. With each level different aspects of musicianship are discussed such as technique, ear training, music theory and rhythm. Recommendations address style, improvisational technique and of course, the amount of time available each day for practice.
The Practice That Works Website is for All Musicians
The Practice That Works website is for ANY musician. The concepts, observations and recommendations can be applied universally.
The Practice That Works website will not only provide examples of techniques to use when practicing but will also include links to courses that contain a complete method to master each concept. Overall the website is made for the serious student. By this we don’t mean someone practicing 10 hours a day (although that would be great) but the student who has a commitment to learn their instrument from the ground up and wants to learn how music works in a real sense. Therefore music theory, the physiology of playing an instrument, sight reading, ear training and beginning to advanced improvisation techniques will be included.
Consistency is Crucial to Your Success
Consistency is the key to any regimen, here at Practice That Works. Even if you can only put in half an hour a day, that can be enough to get many things accomplished and to feel that you are improving. Whatever the amount of time you can commit to music, the important thing is to be consistent in your practice and be focused on the exercise at hand. Being emotionally engaged and feeling that the exercise has meaning to you will help the exercise flow deeper into your memory thus helping you to remember and giving you a burst of dopamine which plays a major role for reward-motivated behavior.
Be Engaged When Practicing Music
The important thing with any Practice That Works system is engaging the mind and the body in a memory experience. Most aspects of memory are being used when learning music and the best musicians know how to harness the power of memory to process and retain vast quantities of aural, physical and general core cognitive skills.
Cognitive Skills Needed for Practice that Works
- You need sustained attention during each practice session and you should stop for a short break any time you feel you are losing focus, before returning to your work.
- Distractions from both your physical environment and from within you own mind need to be minimized so that you can give full attention to the current exercise.
- As you tame the distractions and sustain your attention you will find that the speed in which you can learn and retain information will greatly increase. This won’t happen overnight but if you make a concerted effort you will see improvement in this area.
- You need to keep an open mind; one that can get past old ways of thinking and embrace new ideas of learning. This can be hard when you have engrained preconceptions about music.
- As much as it is important to focus on each exercise, eventually you need to be able to multitask, so you can move back and forth between the many levels of music that are happening all at once. Pitch, rhythm, the sound of your instrument, intonation, perhaps the addition of sight reading, phrasing and many other things will all possibly be going on simultaneously, and you will need to integrate it all. Developing a multitasking mind when it comes to music is a learned ability so give yourself time to undertake this.
- Your memory plays a crucial role in learning music. You need to remember the task at hand and not get distracted which can easily happen. Think of memory as a muscle in your mind that you need to exercise correctly and from there it will strengthen and allow you to remember instructions and keep the information in the forefront of your mind until you accomplish your goal.
- There are a lot of different aspects of learning music so you need to be able to organize these different concepts into categories. Think of music as a language that has many points of reference and ways to organize its content.
- Get a little scientific with your music practice. Notice patterns within notes and rhythms. You can build on this understanding by learning music theory and various improvisation and composition techniques so that you understand music on a deeper level which will help you see its essence.
The Skill Set for Learning Music
As you can see developing Practice That Works isn’t something you learn overnight. You will need:
- The right state of mind.
- A development of your memory
- Organizational skills
- The right information to work with
- Flexibility in your thinking.
- Undivided attention
- To develop a basic understanding of how music works so that you can store information in a logical way.
- To have the awareness that sometimes you might be your own worst enemy and close your mind to changing your habits, or your ideas about to how or what you need to practice.
Build up to Your Maximum Practice Schedule
In conclusion, the Practice That Works website is here to recommend ideas to help you improve on your instrument. But remember that practicing is like learning how to run a marathon. You wouldn’t go out and run 28 miles the first day, would you? Take time to gradually develop an increasingly robust practice day. Take advantage of down time and commuting time to do ear training, music theory work, or to practice in your mind. Great musicians think about music a lot and it’s not just when they are playing their instrument. Let music into your life and you will be greatly rewarded.