‘Practice makes perfect’ may seem like an old school phrase that your grandmother would say to you when you were a child, but was granny right all along? Well, practicing regularly does in fact make a huge difference when it comes to learning and maintaining your musical skills outside of your weekly lessons!
Why practice is so important
Experts say that it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a person to form a habit. And when you’re learning how to play an instrument, practice is definitely a daily habit you need to get on board with. Humans are creatures of habit which means any changes to our regular routines or schedules can be difficult for us to manage. But if you’re interested in playing an instrument, changes in your daily routine are an absolute must and this starts with practice.
When you’re in your music sessions, your instructor will be able to show you the tactical skills needed to play your instrument. But once your lesson is over, it’s really up to you to put those skills to use and perfect them through practice. As you practice more and more, your body gets used to playing your chosen instrument and it starts to come more naturally.
While practicing, you are using repetition to drive a skill into your brain and your hands so you can become an expert in what you’re doing. On top of this, when you practice you activate different parts of your brain that may not have otherwise been stimulated before. This means that you’re able to remember information easier, improve your hand-eye coordination, and engrain muscle memory into your hands to play notes without thinking too much about it.
In addition to all of the brain and memory power practice can give you, it’s also a time where you can learn to love the instrument you're playing. Practice allows you to make your music personal to you and truly develop a passion for the music you’re playing. It’s a time to focus on you and you alone to hone in on your abilities and challenges you will face. Overall, your music lessons are the foundation of your learning but your practice time is really when you’re able to put those learnings into action and make a skill out of it.
Tips for practicing
If you’re having difficulty getting into the mindset of practicing, here are some helpful tips.
Level set expectations
It’s important to remember that at first, practicing music will probably not be fun. When you’re learning how to play an instrument, you’re challenging yourself to take on new skills that may be hard and make them easy. This requires a ton of dedication and concentration which may not always be what you find fun. However, once you perfect these skills and see all of the progress you made through practice, you’ll be able to understand how all of those hours of dedication made a difference. In addition, it’s also crucial to understand that you won’t gain expertise overnight. It can take days, months, and even years to perfect the art of playing an instrument and even your favourite musicians are constantly learning and growing in their skills. Once you understand that you won’t be the next Jimi Hendrix overnight, then you’ll be able to enjoy the process of practicing that much more by celebrating the little wins.
Create the right environment
Many people have difficulty practicing their instrument at home because they are easily distracted. This is exactly why practicing in the right space is so important. Try to dedicate one room or space in your home to be where you consistently practice music. Make sure it’s as quiet and as free of distractions as possible. Then each day, make sure you have all of the supplies you need before you start so you can minimize running around. This may include water, paper, pencils, a metronome, and more. Once your space is prepped, you’ll feel more focused to dive in and start practicing.
Consistency with practice truly is key when first learning how to play an instrument. As much as possible, try to practice around the same time each day to help you get into the groove of things. When you first start playing, try to practice at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Once you start feeling more confident in your skills, this amount of time may change. Having a concise yet effective practice is more important than the actual amount of time you’re practicing. Many musicians will say to practice smarter, not longer so do what feels good to you! In the end, the most important thing is to stay consistent and make it a regular part of your weekly routine.
Set a goal
If you have no set intentions for your practice (other than just to be a better musician), chances are you’re probably going to have trouble finding your focus. Before you dive into your practice, ask yourself “what is it that I want to accomplish today?” This will help you find the flow of your practice and create achievable milestones that you can hit. If you aren’t sure what your goals should be, talk with your music instructor who will be able to better craft those milestones with you.
Reward yourself regularly
At the end of the day, learning how to play a new instrument is a HUGE deal. Just like with any accomplishment, it never hurts to reward yourself on a regular basis for staying dedicated to such a huge time commitment and challenge. So after a week of practice, don’t forget to reward yourself with your favourite dessert or that new shirt you’ve been wanting!
Music lessons in Toronto
Think you’re ready to dive into the world of music? We’d love to talk to you here at Greater Toronto Music School to find the perfect routine for you! We offer virtual and in-home private music lessons in Toronto for a wide range of instruments including guitar, drums, piano, strings, and so much more.