Every performer knows the old saying “Practice makes perfect.” A few others have modified that phrase into “Perfect practice makes perfect.”
But how can you make your practice perfect?
Clearly an effective practice regime is the key to maximizing our talents. But many artists, musicians and performers don’t know how to improve their preparation techniques. Maybe you can’t make your practice routine flawless, but here are a few tips that can turn an ordinary practice session into a highly effective one.
- Target your Goal – Before ever taking out a song or pressing play, decide before you begin what you will accomplish. Oftentimes, musicians and artists will simply ‘go over’ the music without a central goal in mind. The result is a lot of wasted effort on parts of the music that may not be as important. Decide before you begin – what will I be able to do at the end of this practice session that I can’t do yet?
- Think Out Loud – Rather than simply working on the physical challenges of your performance, work on the mental attributes as well. Step away from your instrument and talk to yourself about what you want to remember. Making mental maps of the performance can help seal the memory of what you’ve rehearsed.
- Take Breaks – Sometimes musicians feel that the longer they practice, the more their skills will increase. But studies show that musicians that break their practice sessions into more reasonable, less taxing portions are more likely to remember and execute what they’ve rehearsed. Rather than measuring your effectiveness by how long you practiced, measure it by how consistent and disciplined you are. Take time between sessions to refresh yourself, get a glass of water, or unwind for a moment before jumping back in.
- Tune Out Distractions – It never fails. The moment you sit down to work on something, you immediately get a wave of calls, texts or social media notifications. Investing in tools like Freedom and other apps that mute notifications can help you stay focused on your goal. Each time you are distracted from your practice, you actually have to start the learning process over – and that means less effective learning and poorer performances. Block out your time for practice and give it the same undivided attention that you would if you were already at the gig.
Following these four tips can help your practice sessions lead to powerful and confident performances. For more tips, check out “The Musician’s Way” by Gerald Klickstein.
For musicians local to South Florida: We are holding a discussion and networking event on December 12th, 2016 around the topic of professional standards. Click here for more information.