Practice, practice, practice...
I have decided to write a series of posts on practice techniques, to help musicians to improve their music skills. We will touch on tone, right and left hand techniques, on rhythm, muscle memory, I will try to help all you musicians out there to become more efficient at utilizing your practice time, so that you improve at a much faster rate.
Playing an instrument well can take years or even a lifetime to master and even when you reach a professional level of ability, the learning never stops. Practice every day, even if it is just for a short session. Listen to your technique while you practice and stay focused on what you are playing and how well you complete each practice item.
I will be introducing specific practice techniques concentrating on how to make them work for you and improve your playing.
Listening skills for music appreciation and for deciphering musical technique are as important as is practice; you can learn a lot to improve your playing by listening to other musicians. Classical music particularly takes skill to appreciate, learning to isolate each individual instrument in an orchestra as well as hearing the combinations of instruments, how they interact and compliment each other. i will go into this subject in more detail in a future post.
Playing with others
An important part of learning music is to gain skills of playing with others. This is a skill all on its own and one which entails listening as much as playing. You need to know when to come in, when to make your playing stand out and when to play in the background. A good musician will compliment the other musicians playing, even if they are simply playing a backing rhythm. most importantly they need to learn to capture the spirit of the tune and the spirit of the lead or melody player.
Music Practice Tip No.1
Slow with isolation
Play slowly through the piece you are learning, whether it is a scale, a whole tune, a song, a lead solo, or even a difficult section of any of the above. The IMPORTANCE of practicing slowly cannot be emphasized enough. Once you master playing something slow it becomes easy to play it at any desired speed. If you are required to play something fast, the key to attaining this is to practice slowly. Once it is perfect slow, playing fast is effortless. Phrasing in particular benefits from slower practice, isolate each phrase and repeat it slowly until it is committed to memory and can be performed with feeling.
Practice each note in relation to its relationship with the note either side of it. start with 3 notes in a phrase and build it up, two are three notes at a time until you have the whole lick down. THEN PLAY THE WHOLE LICK 10 times or more until you have it sounding how you want.
This is because the learning phase uses a different part of the brain to that part you use for musical expression...Its only when the learning is done, that you can playmusic from your heart with feeling, which is what enables performers to capture their audience and produce an emotional response.
I will post a new music practice tip every week.
All images used in this blog post are from upsplash.com