The Practice of Practice - Part 2
What to Practice
Ah, spending time with your instrument. What can be better? Time to practice, and we get down to, well, we get down to the same old things! It's sort of like our favorite shirt, comfy and easy to wear. But what good does it do us to walk the same familiar paths? I know, it happens to me. I love to just play my favorite grooves, but the thing is, I know them so well I really don't need to practice them at all. And if I spend time playing the familiar, it takes the time away from mastering new things. There's nothing wrong with playing something familiar for a warm up, but once you are warmed up, move on to something new.
To have effective practice times, especially micro practice (see Part 1 of this), you need to stay focused:
- Have an agenda, a plan: have a specific book/song/technique you will work on.
- Keep a note book! Write down your goals and a timeframe for them.
- Write down your practice sessions and make a progress report, like what you worked on, metronome settings, etc. This helps you stay focused, and also helps you see the progress you've made down the road.
- Write down problems you are having so you can remember them next time.
- If you only have 10 minutes to practice, pick out 1 thing to work on and go for it.
- If you are doing 3 micro practices in a day, work on 3 different things.
- Reward yourself for your hard work, "When I get this down, then I can play whatever I want."
If you have trouble focusing, relate what you are doing to other activities you do, like sports/video games/etc. Remember how much work you had to put into them, and the results of all that work.
It happens to all of us. We are making steady progress, then we hit a brick wall and seem to be getting nowhere. The first thing is to not get hung up on this, it's natural. Again, relate this to other activities where you've had to learn new things. How did you get past blocks there? If you feel you've hit a complete block, seek out help. Ask other musician friends, ask on a music forum/blog, seek out a teacher for advice. No one can do it all alone, and sometimes someone one else will have a different perspective that can get us back on track.
- If you approach drumming seriously, than everything you put together to make your sound brings you to your own, unique world. —Robyn Schulkowsky
Part 3 will look at mental practice.