Approaching Practicing (We’re Back, Sort Of*)

“Practice makes perfect”

Well, no it doesn’t. It’ll make you better, but you’ll never be perfect.

That’s not to say that practicing isn’t important. Just because the concept of perfection is unrealistic, you shouldn’t be discouraged from practicing and improving yourself.

Why Do We Practice:

While it may seem fruitless to return to concepts that you’ve already learned, continually returning to, and mastering, the basics creates a solid foundation on which you can expand and build upon.

While most people understand that it’s important to practice, where most people fall short is how to practice. While my advice may not be the correct way to practice, these are the methods that I’ve used and succeeded with.

Be Consistent:

Maintaining a consistent schedule is the best way to make sure that you’re balancing practicing and studying, as well as practicing frequently enough to maintain what you’re learning.

  • Don’t be afraid to break from schedule occasionally; if you really have an urge to play on a day where you would traditionally be studying, then play. The most important thing is that you maintain the balance.

Be Focused:

When you sit down to practice, have a focus on what you want to accomplish by the end of that time. Focusing on one specific topic each day as opposed to spreading yourself thin and trying to learn/practice everything will lead to much slower progress and is generally an inefficient way to go about practicing.

Don’t Mistake Messing Around for Practicing:

While screwing around for an hour on your drum set might seem productive, not taking advantage of this creativity is a complete waste of your time. By playing around mindlessly, you’re not paying attention to what does/doesn’t click with you, and you’re not building off of anything; you’re just playing for the hell of it. You can play whatever you want, but be sure to write down/remember things that stand out and try to build on it further.

  • This is an example of making fun useful. You can spend forever just messing around so long as you’re keeping track of what you’re practicing and how you can use/change what you’re playing to include it in your repertoire.

Consult and Take Advantages of Your Resources:

There is an endless amount of resources that you can use to your benefit. Whether it be videos of the greats, or your next-door-neighbor, there is a plethora of knowledge that doesn’t require deep research. For example, I’ve been trying to learn music theory as I’m learning bass, and I’ve been using these videos. They are incredibly easy to understand, as Michael has a knack for teaching music. Similarly, I’ve compiled various drumming resources that, while they may be above my current playing level, give me a goal to work towards.

  • Don’t worry about comparing yourself to other musicians, as this is incredibly limiting. Use their resources to grow, not to feel bad about yourself.

Have Fun With It:

Yes, we’re getting cliche with this one, but it really is the most important part of practicing. If you’re forcing yourself to practice when you don’t want to, you’re going to get burned out and lose your passion for music. If you need to take time off, then do it. While it’s not recommended, the alternative is worse.

So, that’s just a few concepts to keep in mind next time you sit down to practice. If you ask any of the greats, they will say that they’ve reached where they are by spending countless hours working on their craft; it didn’t just come to them naturally. And it won’t be easy for anybody; not without practice.

*I apologize for disappearing for a month, but seemingly “realer” classwork and the incoming AP test have occupied my time. If we’re being honest with one another, posts will be less frequent from now on, as the end of the year means I’m busier and busier with school work.

In houseband news, we have our first real gig this Saturday, and the only gig where all 13 of us will be together. Everybody’s excited to see the few months of progress come together.

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