So often a student asks me “how much should I practice?”, and I always come back with the same response, “the more you practice the faster you’ll progress & the more satisfying it will be to play”.
So as I was thinking about this, I realized that, after 34 years of playing music, I may understand practicing differently than those with just a few years of playing behind them. Sure, in essence you are playing through your lesson material in the hopes you’ll have it together for your next lesson, but it’s more than just that.
Here are some general thoughts to help make practice sessions more effective
Focus: if you practice with a million distractions you will get almost nothing out of your practice session. Focus on what you’re doing and stay focused on the music & how you are playing it.
Make it count: I’d don’t care if it’s an exercise from the book or a scale, play it like it’s music. Make it musical. You never know what will come of imposing musicality upon the ordinary. Some of the greatest compositions are quite ordinary when you look at them on paper. Music happens in taking those dots on those lines and spaces and releasing them from your instrument musically.
A little everyday: You’ll make much more progress playing 10 minutes everyday than if you crammed for an hour the day before your lesson. Remember, it’s not about grades or getting it “right”. It’s about become comfortable enough that all the technical details of playing the instrument fade into the background and you are left free to make music.
You will struggle with music: This is perfectly normal & very much expected. It is in striving farther than we can reach that we eventually increase our reach. Let it be hard and chip away at it in small sections. This is how musician you admire got to where they are.
And finally remember that anything truly worth having takes time & effort.