Top 5 Tips for Optimising Your Practice Time

Learning to play an instrument is a long, yet enjoyable process. In order to develop and improve as a musician, you will be encouraged to practice regularly and for at least 20 minutes at a time. This will contribute enormously to your progression as a player and will enhance your music comprehension on a number of levels. However, it’s not uncommon for musicians of all varieties to fall into somewhat of a rut when it comes to practicing. If your sessions are proving to be unproductive and frustrating, it may be time to mix up the way you rehearse. Here are Fusion Bag’s top tips for optimising your practice time.

Map your sessions like a workout

It’s been observed that a few stretches and breathing exercises may actually go a long way towards a productive practice. However, if you are not prepared to get too physical it’s important to remember that you still have to warm up. Your scales and arpeggios are the warm up which will get your muscles engaged and get your brain switched on. Then move on to the hard work, where you try to analyse your music and solve any problems you are having. Finally, cool down by improvising or revisiting a piece that you really love to play.

Practice selectively, not for longer

Every musician hits a wall occasionally when it comes to rehearsing. It can be tempting to double your practice time in order resolve any issues you may be having. However, you are more likely to accomplish more in a short amount of time if you have a focused objective. Humans have a limited amount of willpower, so you should use it selectively. If you are having trouble with a tricky measure, you should set your timer for around five to 10 minutes and work on the problem in as many ways as possible. Break it in to small, manageable parts and play slow. If you are still struggling, come back to it again tomorrow. Chances are the problem area will become much simpler the second time around.

Don’t always start at the beginning

As we’ve already mentioned, our willpower is limited. In order to maximise your practice time, you should try to focus on the areas where you are struggling for the majority of the time. If you know full well you can play the first two pages of a piece beautifully, it is likely you will waste time starting at the beginning again every time you play something wrong. Start at the beginning of the problem area and dedicate your energy to smoothing out issues.

Make your area comfortable

The area where you practice should be a place where you feel comfortable and relaxed. However, it should also be a place where you are free from distractions so you can dedicate your full attention to your practice. There should be good lighting, good heating or ventilation and a comfortable place to sit or stand, depending on your instrument. Ideally, you should practice somewhere clean and spacious. After all, a tidy room is a tidy mind! However, many feel more comfortable in a room that is a little more cluttered and disorganised. Dedicate some time to ensuring that your practice space is right for you.

Reward hard work

Practicing is hard work, especially when you are tackling the pieces and sections that you struggle with the most. Rewarding your hard work is an incredibly important part of practicing. Giving your brain some positive reinforcement for working hard goes a long way to creating good habits. So, if you have conquered a really difficult measure or you have hit a high note that you couldn’t before, give yourself a treat. There’s no need to splurge, but rewarding yourself in small measures on a relatively regular basis will help to further inspire you to learn.


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