- Be there. Have your attention on what you are doing.
- Be willing to learn something and accept the fact that it probably won’t happen over a weekend. You could learn something specific in a few minutes, but application to your overall playing takes some time. (Though certain things can happen quickly depending on your current skill level. Different people progress at different speeds according to current ability levels, past experience and the subject being studied.)
- Understand what you are practicing and why you are practicing it. Keep you personal goals in mind and practice for that result.
- Learn to relax your body when playing. Accumulated tension is one of the biggest causes of body problems, rough playing and a host of ills. There are about 120 muscles, bones and tendons in both forearms and hands, and all of these “parts” are learning new coordinations. While you are learning control you will get tense. It can be natural to use force to do something until control is developed. Not being relaxed when you play is like driving a car with the brakes slightly depressed. The brake pads are going to wear out real fast and you’re in for a bumpy ride. Notice and release tension when you play. Tension can occur in any part of your body: hands, wrists, arms, neck, shoulders, lower back, face, mouth, legs, feet.
- Learn how to practice at the “right” speed. To play anything well, you need to develop complete control over what you are doing. Control is developed by repetitive actions at the speed that you can actually do the thing you are suppose to be doing. If you go too fast you can’t “grab a hold” of whatever it is and it’s like screeching around a corner in a car while driving too fast in the mountains. Go too fast and you end up in the trees. (If you ever got mad and frustrated while practicing I bet you were just going to fast!)
- Understand the words and symbols on any written materials you are using. (I was giving a kid a piano lesson recently and she almost fell asleep in the middle of her lesson, but was bright and awake when she walked in. I snooped around and discovered that there was one symbol in a song book that her dad got her that sent her under the table. I found the symbol, defined it for her and she instantly brightened up and came back to life.)
- Learn to sing in tune if you don’t already. If you can’t, this is easier to learn then you might think. It’s almost impossible to fully enjoy playing music if your ears aren’t working.
- Develop a good sense of rhythm. Having good rhythm is vital, probably the most vital aspect of being a musician. Good rhythm can be developed with the proper drills. If your sense of rhythm is really bad it could take some time; however, you CAN develop good rhythmic ability with efficient instruction and drilling.
- Have fun. Music isn’t worth doing if you can’t have some fun while doing it. Not all studies are fun — many things aren’t. But there is always a way to make some part of what you are doing fun and rewarding.
Home » bass lessons » guitar lessons » music instruction » music lessons » play music » practicing » practicing rhythm » Guidelines for Practicing a Musical Instrument