Every musician knows about the importance of practicing. Learning to play with ease and master an instrument is a long, but rewarding, process. Although many musicians start to play as a young child, you can start playing an instrument at any age and enjoy the pleasure of creating and performing music.
Similar to professional athletes, musicians need daily practice to stay on top of their game. This video by TEDEd takes a look at what happens in our brain when we practice:
Here are our favourite takeaways:
Plan your practice sessions ahead.
Set the right mood for your sessions by being organised and planning ahead. Setting daily, weekly and monthly goals will help you track your progress and see the big picture. If you are under a deadline, set priorities and add a couple of extra rehearsals slots, just in case something unexpected pops up.
Make sure you can play in an undisturbed, comfortable setting. Eliminate all distractions.
It should be about just you and the music. Leave all additional baggage and physicial distractions, such as your phone, at the door. This rings especially true if you are rehearsing in a group, since time is limited. If you need your gagdets, use them mindfully.
Train your focus; try visualising complex movements slowly in your mind.
Imagine something in minute detail, paying attention to both musical expression and muscle memory. Once you have a clear picture and feeling in your mind, chances are, you can play it. If you are feeling nervous before a concert, visualisation techniques can help you prepare better and go out with more confidence.
Remember that repetition is key to success.
As the great Bruce Lee once said:
"I fear not the man who has practiced 10000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10000 times."
Enjoy your practice by finding out what works for you.
Finding your own unique formula to musical success is a fun process, enjoy it and own it.
Every single successful musician that we have met shares this playful attitude. Hans Zimmer sums it up beautifully: "go play!"