The Laws of Practicing & More Tips on Preparing Music
Many of the early South Hills Junior Orchestra “Fox’s Firesides” are about developing new techniques to solve musical problems, dispelling the myth that all you need to do is put in the time. Is there any truth in “practice makes perfect?” Not really. It is more critical that all instrumentalists set-up a regular schedule for focused practice, limiting all distractions, defining and working on goals, and then the truer adage can be modeled: “perfect practice develops perfect playing.”
Perhaps since January is the first month of The New Year, this would be a good time to review the different practice techniques we have already published at https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/foxs-firesides/, especially #1, #4, and #8.
Here are a few more ideas, “borrowed” from my former place of employment – the Upper St. Clair School District Performing Arts Department.
THE LAWS OF PRACTICING
The 24-Hour Law – It takes 24 hours for yesterday’s lesson to be learned.
The Perfect Attendance Law – Practicing a little every day always beats cramming.
The Three Musketeers Law – Never practice without a metronome, tuner, or recording device to hear how you sound.
The “Elephant in the Room” Law – One must “face the music,” specifically, the musical passage with which they are struggling the most.
The Sloth Law – When in doubt, play it slower.
LIFE HACKS (Practice Edition)
Sloth Hack – Playing slower, to the point that it is impossible to mess up.
Jaws Hack – Slur a passage with which you are struggling.
Karaoke Hack – Play the passage in conjunction with your favorite recording of the piece.
Time Trial Hack – Put a timer on for a few minutes and see how much you can accomplish in a short amount of time.
Drop the Bass Hack – If a passage is too high, play it down an octave.
Cheat Code Hack – Simplify a rhythm if you are struggling to learn it.
Here are several additional websites with excellent “hack” recommendations for developing better practice skills, but don’t forget to ask your school music director and private teacher for more advice!
Keep up your commitment to and PRACTICE towards real self-improvement, creative self-expression, making beautiful music, and participating in your school and community bands and orchestras!
The mission of South Hills Junior Orchestra, which rehearses and performs at the Upper St. Clair High School in Pittsburgh, PA, is to support and nurture local school band and orchestra programs, to develop knowledge, understanding, performance skills, and an appreciation of music, to increase an individual member’s self-esteem and self-motivation, and to continue to advance a life-long study of music. Members of the Orchestra learn, grow, and achieve positions of leadership to serve their fellow members.
This and all Fox’s Fireside blog-posts are free and available to share with other music students, parents, directors, and supporters of the arts.
Click here for a printable copy of LIFE HACKS for Musicians
Other “Fox Firesides” are available at https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/foxs-firesides/.
© 2019 Paul K. Fox
Photo credit from Pixabay.com: “Fireplace” by judenicholson