5 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Practice

Austin Thompson

Mon Sep 28 2020 | 6 Minute Read

Massive progress over time is the ultimate goal of practicing your instrument, but a long term goal can never be achieved without small improvements along the way.  Implementing one or two of these tips in a few of your coming practice times is sure to give you a quick boost in efficacy!  

Key Takeaways


Have a Goal In Mind

The first steps to getting better are knowing where you are now and what you need to improve upon. When we go in with a clear end goal, this idea of “beginning with the end in mind” comes into play.

When you have a distinct, detailed destination you can then work backwards from your goal to see the path that needs to be traveled in order to arrive at the goal by the end of your practice session.  If you start practicing without knowing what you want to improve upon, you're more than likely going to end up fumbling around with way too many ideas of what to do rather than actually making progress with your practice time. 

Take Notes 

Taking notes recounting your practice allows you to pick up where you left off in your previous session. Recordation of your successes and failures as it relates to specific breakdowns, exercises, tempos, and sequences provides you with a tangible list to reference when you don’t know what you need to be working on; because let’s face it, all of us can get stuck trying to figure out what to practice next.

Taking specific notes on the sensations associated with a particular skill set or technique adjustment can be some of the most impactful information to jot down during a session.  The more we can move out of the head (what did I think about to achieve ‘x’) and into the body (what did I feel when I achieved ‘y’) the easier it will become to recall those physical sensations you experienced while practicing.

Take Videos

While notes can give you an idea of big themes to focus on, videos can help you identify the devil in the details. Sometimes you may feel like you're doing something perfectly, but once you watch a video of yourself, you realize just how wrong you looked while you were doing it.

Consider watching the video with the sound off and, conversely, listening to the audio without looking at the video. In the same vein as taking videos- playing in a mirror allows you to see, in real time, what you look like from a third person perspective.

Videos give you a reference point you can look back on later to see how far you've come; this can be a great encouraging tool for you in the future. 

Eliminate Distractions

The easiest way to keep yourself from getting distracted is to eliminate anything and everything that could steal your precious time and attention. Even as I’m writing this blog with my phone next to me I can't help but keep looking at it as messages roll in. Keeping your phone from distracting you is as easy as putting it on airplane mode, placing it in a different room or even just muting all notifications during your practice session.

While phones may be the biggest distraction many of us have, the other smaller distractions can have just as much impact. We tend to find menial tasks around us to keep us from doing what we need to… this is why boring tasks such as cleaning your room are always easier when you have schoolwork to get done or a test to study for! Setting up your practice area with only your practice essentials will stop you from wandering off to those other activities. 

Ask for Help

It’s important to understand that there are numerous approaches to learning and playing an instrument. Some of these approaches will leave you busy but, sadly, not productive while others may not only take less time but also give you far better results. This can be mitigated by seeking help and reaping the benefits of private music instruction.

One or two private lessons per week with a professional can and will considerably shorten your learning curve. Doing things the wrong way(s), will not only keep you from getting better, but may very well form delirious habits and actually take your progress away from you making your future progression path much more difficult.

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