All practice is not created equal. There’s the practice that’s fun. You’re in a room with your instrument and maybe a few friends and you just start playing. The minutes fly by, but you’re not exactly working. Then there’s the practice that feels like homework. You’ve got a lesson or a concert coming up so you force yourself to learn scales, to play etudes, and to review the music for your upcoming performance. You keep looking at the clock, waiting to escape…
And then there’s the kind of practice that’s different. The practice where you begin with a goal and a list of items to focus on. When it’s over you feel like you’ve improved, you’re motivated and even inspired
This type of practice has purpose and direction. It’s productive and fulfilling, and it’s connected with the reason you chose to play music in the first place.
Sounds pretty good, right?
The only problem is this type of practice seems to be elusive for so many players. So much of the time we find ourselves going between the “fun” practice and the practice that feels like homework, either jamming with our peers or forcing ourselves to slog through exercises.
But how do you consistently create this third type of practice, the practice that the best players seem to have down to a science?
Well I thought I’d share 4 things that have helped me grow as a musician, 4 exercises that have shaped the direction I want to take as an improviser and I encourage you to do the same.
The truth is, the key to highly effective practice begins before you even step into the practice room. It begins right now as you’re reading this.
So let’s start at the beginning…
I. Where do you think you’re going?
Imagine that you’re standing in the middle of a long road that stretches across the landscape for miles and miles.