Music Practicing Tip - The Random Spot Drill

Roll the dice and try playing your song from the bar number shown. Photo by Nemo. For many music students around the world, this is a really tense time. There are only weeks before their music exam.

If you're preparing for a music exam, chances are your parents and your music teacher are telling you that you need to practice more, etc. etc.

This month, I'm checking to see how secure my students' repertoire is by using the Random Spot Drill. Really, it's as it sounds. You walk by the piano, sit down and try to play one of your pieces from anywhere. Well, from any memory station, that is.

If you're in the middle of your practice, try it for about a minute. Try playing the intro of one piece, the middle of another and the end of a third piece. OK, that's not really random, but you can make it random by trying any of the following:

  • Scribble out bar numbers onto slips of paper and put them in a jar or hat. Then number your pieces. Draw one slip to choose a piece and another to tell you which bar to start from.
  • Ask a family member in another room to pick a number from 1 and X (the last bar of your piece).
  • Get a random number generator app and have it choose your bar numbers.
  • Close your eyes and move a finger randomly on the score. When it stops, that's where you start.
  • Roll dice
  • Spin the Bottle

The idea behind the drill is to see how quickly you can get into the groove of that piece. After all, you never know when a distraction will occur. It could cause a blip. To keep you and your audience on track, you need to get back into the groove with as few missed beats as possible.