In order to improve as a musician, you have to practice consistently. It’s much better to practice for fifteen minutes every day than to practice for an hour once or twice per week.
It took me years to learn that consistent practice was necessary to really up my level of playing. I noticed that pieces I had memorized slipped away if I didn’t maintain them. That means that muscle memory for fundamentals must be similar.
Today, I’m sharing why you should practice consistently as well as give you some tips. You deserve to improve!
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Why Should I Practice Consistently?
Consistent practice is the most important factor in your growth as a musician. Playing an instrument is a physical thing, and muscle memory is very real.
If you get better at your instrument, you will want to practice more. If you practice more, you will get better. It’s a cycle, and if you break the cycle, it’s very difficult to get back into it.
How Much Should I Practice?
The specific amount of time you should practice will depend on you and your goals. If you play for the fun of it, you can get away with less practice. If you’re serious about making music your career, you need to practice more.
No matter your situation, you should practice as much as you need to. Some people need to practice more than others, and that’s okay.
Create a Practice Schedule
One of the best ways to practice consistently is to create a schedule. Take a look at your current schedule overall and find the times when you are free. Your free time is the perfect place to start, because you already have that time available.
If you don’t have much free time, what can you change about your schedule? Consider dropping that regular happy hour or leaving early so that you can practice.
If you don’t have to worry about roommates or neighbors, consider waking up earlier or staying up later. Of course, you shouldn’t sacrifice sleep for practice, but it is an option. I have woken up thirty minutes early to practice, and it worked out well for me.
Your ideal practice schedule will depend on your lifestyle, but a practice schedule will help you practice consistently.
Use a Practice Journal
If you can’t set a practice schedule, try using a practice journal. Writing down your practice notes and thoughts is a great way to stay on track with your goals, and it can be a great motivator.
We don’t always take practice seriously, but a practice journal forces you to analyze what you’re doing. A practice journal can also keep you on track so that you don’t waste time during your practice.
Set Practice Goals
Whether you keep a practice journal or not, you should set short and long term practice goals. If you have a performance coming up, then your goal should be to learn the music well ahead of time.
Short term goals could also be learning and mastering a new fingering or memorizing a scale. Some long term goals might be getting into a music group or music school, or learning a difficult piece of music.
Your practice goals will, of course, depend upon your level of playing and your goals as a musician. That being said, anyone can set practice goals.
Get the Gear
In order to practice consistently, you need the motivation and the discipline. If you don’t have the right tools, it can be much harder to practice.
Set yourself up for practice success, and make sure you have all of the tools you need to practice well. At first, you need an instrument in working condition and a sturdy music stand.
Many people have cheap folding music stands, but I find that they don’t last. You can only put a few sheets of music on them before they fall over. I use a Gearlux music stand, and it’s sturdy but affordable.
If you’re more advanced, you should have a tuner and a metronome. There are many free and cheap apps for your phone, but sometimes it’s nice to have the physical thing.
I have a Korg TM60 which comes with both a tuner and metronome, and it has a clip on microphone. The clip on microphone will only pick up sounds from the instrument you connect it to. That makes tuning very easy when you’re surrounded by other musicians.
Other tools that will make your practice easier include pencils and an instrument stand. Instrument stands keep your instrument safe when you can’t put it in the case. If I have to make a note on my music, I like to put my flute on my flute stand. Then I don’t have to worry about it rolling off my lap.
While you can use as many tools to improve your practice, you need to have the right mindset. Approaching your practice sessions the wrong way won’t you any good. Practicing when you’re tired or preoccupied can can actually be harmful, because you won’t be maintaining good playing habits.
A practice journal and the right equipment aren’t enough.
Do you practice consistently? If not, what’s keeping you from doing so? Let me know in the comments!