November 19, 2010

How to divide up practice time

Dividing up practice time

Teachers usually recommend dividing up your practice time between technique, studies, and repertoire. Since there are a variety of techniques musicians master, so if you have only half hour to devote to technique, how should you divide that up?

Whether you have half an hour or three hours for your technique practice, I think you should pick the highest priority thing and just focus on that until you master it.

Move on when it is obvious you are ready to move on.

I am feeling the pressure of upcoming performances, but I am still spending most of my practice time on one scale, over and over again, for hours.

What about everything else?

What about arpeggios, tremolo, slurs, and all the other elements of technique? Aren't I ignoring those?

You could look at it that way, but there are and will probably always be aspects of my technique I'm not happy with. Right now, my playing will benefit the most from mastering my scales.

I would rather make a big improvement in one area of playing rather than making incremental improvements in several.


This might seem really boring, but the truth is, two hours of scales a day was too boring for me when I was trying to concentrate on them as hard as I can.

Now I just do them while I read blogs/facebook/twitter/whatever.

When I'm ready to move on to music, I put the laptop away, get out my music, and get to work with a fresh mind. I'm tired mentally or physically from the scales.

In fact, I'll hardly feel like I've done them. That's pretty much the point. When you're playing music, you don't want to think, "here's that hard scale." You want to just do it. That is why I practice this way. In the past, I would have thought this was an awful idea, but as far as I'm concerned, the progress speaks for itself.

I'm not saying that I never listen to what I'm doing to check my progress. I'm always listening to it.


PS: And now for something completely different. I recently completed an ambient/electronic/space music album under the name Glissant. Check it out!

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