Emily's Tips for Practicing Music
- Begin with a goal for what you want to accomplish.
- Practice in a quiet area with a stand, pencil, tuner, and metronome.
- Warm up with a scale. Preferably in the key of the material you're about to rehearse. This will help you develop a musical ear.
- Simplify to the basic elements. Break down the difficult passage to a couple measures. Then find the specific notes giving trouble. Simplify the notes. Take out any slurs, rhythm, or ornamentations and practice the couple of notes over and over until your hand muscles understand. Then slowly add in rhythm, then slurs or bow technique and ornamentations and dynamics.
- Practice smarter. Don't just start from the beginning and play through the whole piece. Zero in on what exactly needs to be improved. It's about the quality of practice, not the quantity.
- Be aware. Do you have the right tone? Right part of the bow? Are your fingers relaxed and close to the fingerboard? How is your posture? Are you in tune? Are you playing the correct dynamics?
- Use a metronome, especially when speeding up fast passages. Start slow, play through until the passage is comfortable, then slowly speed up the tempo.
- Leave a mark on the sides of the sheet music if you find a trouble area during orchestra. That way you can easily find what you need to work on in the practice room.
- The day or two before an audition, play through all of the music without stopping or making notes. Pretend you're in the audition.
- Take breaks. It will help you concentrate and keep you sane.
- If something hurts, that's not good. Stretch and keep healthy postures.
- Play away from your instrument. When away from your instrument, you can read through your music and visualize practicing to improve.
- Practicing a little every day is more effective than one large practice session every so often.
- End practicing with something fun. Sight reading, improvising, easy stuff, or old stuff. Brain cool down time.
- Have fun. Reward your brain for your hard work to create good habits. Do something you like and that's healthy to make practicing a more positive experience.