Following on from last week's Blog about Music Practice - Why Bother?, over the next few posts we'll be looking in more detail at the various points raised. We may as well start at point 1 - Improvement
Here's a few things you might like to consider about how practice improves you as a musician
Mastery of Techniques: Practising allows you to master the techniques required to play the instrument effectively. This sounds pretty obvious, but you still need to identify the areas for improvement. Your teacher can help with that. Whether it's mastering fingerings, bowing techniques, chord progressions, or breath control, regular practice enables you to refine these technical aspects. This in turn allows you to express yourself freely as your technique becomes more advanced
Building Musical Fluency: Just like learning a language, practising an instrument enhances your musical fluency. It helps you become more comfortable with the instrument's vocabulary, including scales, arpeggios, and musical patterns. A superb sight reader once told me that scales are the key to great sight reading - learn your scales and fingerings and you can apply them instantly to any piece of music, seeing and playing patterns with ease.
Developing Strength and Stamina: Playing an instrument requires physical strength and stamina. Regular practice helps you build endurance, enabling you to sustain longer practice sessions and perform more demanding pieces. Gradually, you develop finger strength, breath control, or coordination to tackle challenging passages. A word of warning - never practise through pain, you may be causing significant injury. At the first sign of discomfort, always take a break.
Refining Musical Interpretation: Practice is where you have the opportunity to interpret and shape the music according to your own artistic vision. Through repeated practice, you can experiment with different dynamics, phrasing, and expressive nuances. What's great about this is that it's actually fun to do, and at the same time you are dealing with points 1-3 above without noticing!
Sense of achievement: I always look on practice as an enjoyable experience. I don't always achieve what I hope - far from it! But every practice session I look back and realise I can now do something I couldn't previously do, and that is what drives me forward.
Learning an instrument comes with its fair share of challenges. Practising helps you tackle these difficulties head-on. Whether it's conquering a technically demanding passage, memorizing complex musical scores, or improving your sense of rhythm, regular practice allows you to break down these challenges into smaller, manageable parts. By focusing on specific areas that need improvement, you gradually overcome obstacles and make steady progress towards mastery.
In the next blog I'll be investigating how effective practice can reinforce the good aspects of playing, and gradually weed out bad habits - with obvious consequences. Thanks for reading!