Practicing isn’t easy, but these are my 5 go-to tips. Once these things are in place, it’s hard to go wrong!

  1. Practice in a distraction-free environment! 
    There’s a reason this is number one on the list. Consider the last time you tried to get something done while your favorite tv show was on, or a good friend was hanging out next to you trying to have a conversation. If your practice space is in a room that is normally used for play or leisure, the odds are stacked against you – before you’ve even begun to practice.
  2. Set a goal for each practice session.
    Before you begin to practice, decide what your goals are for the day. It may be helpful to write your goal down and check it off when you have finished! Consider your daily goals in terms of your weekly assignments from your teacher. Beak the assignment down into small segments to achieve the most of your goal.
  3. Warm up!
    Whether you’re a pianist or a singer, it is essential to begin your practice session with a warm-up! Not only is it important from a technical standpoint (and singers, your vocal health can be at stake, so don’t mess around!) – but you will be more effective in your repertoire practice if you have warmed up first. Play those scales, sing those vocalises!
  4. Practice the hard stuff in small chunks.
    Oh my gosh, I just can’t say this enough. This is one of the most DIFFICULT things for students to do, but it is easily one of the most important. I loved this conversation I had with an adult beginner student recently. We had really honed in on the necessity of practicing a difficult, but rewarding piece in small, two-measure sections. She was a little skeptical, I think, but she’s a great student, so she did as I asked (grown-ups are so wise!), and she came back to her lesson the following week and could not stifle her disbelief when she proclaimed, “IT WORKED!” We both grinned and giggled through the entire lesson. I totally commiserated because – surprise! – even piano teachers don’t love drill work! We just know it works. More than pretty much anything else.
  5. Record your wins!
    Most of the joy, particularly for beginners, comes at the END of a practice session, when something new starts to click in place. Write it down in your practice notebook/assignment log so you can remember your success the next time you go to practice.
    Ex: Today (date), I nailed the dotted rhythm at the top of page 2!  – or –
    Today (date), I felt freedom in my upper range after practicing this week’s exercise!
    Don’t forget to share your wins with your teacher at your next lesson. This helps to keep you both on the same page, so your teacher can prepare you for your next successful practice week!

Happy practicing!

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