mindful practice

Reflecting on My First 100 Days of Practice Challenge

Reflecting on My First 100 Days of Practice Challenge

Last Thursday, I completed my first 100 Days of Practice Challenge. As I went straight into it after my 30 day challenge, I had practised for 130 consecutive days.

Was it hard? Yes and no. There were definitely days in which it was 11:30 at night and I hadn’t gotten to any practising because of other commitments. There were days when I could only do a short practice. But once I made the commitment to my students and online, I felt honour-bound to see it through.

Did I make any life-changing discoveries? Nope. If you do something regularly, you’re going to see some improvement. There are countless studies on that.

If anything, this challenge was an opportunity for me to get back in touch with the way I used to practice at university and whilst preparing for my ARCT in Piano Performance. Here are a few things that stood out as I look back on this challenge…

On Becoming a Bulletproof Musician

On Becoming a Bulletproof Musician

The theme at last week’s group classes was becoming a bulletproof musician. The idea has been percolating in my mind ever since I discovered Dr. Noa Kageyama’s blog on performance anxiety and mindful practice, called The Bulletproof Musician.

Turn Off the Autopilot When Practicing Music!

Now I know what my teacher meant when she kept reminding me to listen to what I was playing. If you aren't listening to the music you are creating, how do you know if it's any good? Learn more about mindfulness-based musicianship..

Time Saving Technique Practice Idea

Are you stuck between studying for tests and logging in much needed time on practicing technique? Try this idea that came up during one of my lessons last week.

Music Practicing 101: Organized Practicing

On behalf of music students and music teachers everywhere, I'd like to send out a huge thank you to piano teacher Josh Wright. He put together these two videos about organized practice. One thing my students hear me say - a lot - is to figure out how much time they can dedicate to practicing for a particular day, set their practice goals for that session and determine how they will assess whether they've met their goals. "Mindful practice" is also key to practice efficiency. Let's face it, if you're paying attention to what you're doing, you'll meet your goal a lot sooner than if you're just noodling around, waiting for that timer to go off. For those still trying to figure out how to set up music practice goals and how to organize their practice time, look no further:

Organized Practicing - Part 1

Organized Practicing - Part 2

Music Practicing 101: The Three Different Ways Drill

When I was a young music student, I was often told, "Fix your trouble spots" or "This spot needs extra practice. Drill that spot 10X". However, one thing I've noticed, is that my concentration wanes after drilling something five times. I think that's even a bigger challenge for music students today as they are inundated with so much more information. I like the number "3". This week, I've had my students drill their trouble spots three times. However, the catch is that they must play it three different ways. For example:

  • use three different registers
  • use three different surfaces
  • use three different levels of dynamics
  • use three different types of articulation
  • If you play more than one instrument - try it on three different instruments

My students and I have noticed that they are more focused for those three times since they are playing that spot differently each time. They are actively listening to what they are doing. 

The end result? In most cases, the problem spot was ironed out after drilling the spot only three times. 

In some cases, you may need to drill a spot up to five times. In that case, you'll make it the "Five Different Ways Drill".

Music Practicing 101 - Transposition Demo

Approximately a third of my students are working through the Conservatory Canada syllabi. One way it differs from the Royal Conservatory is that keyboard harmony and transposition are built into the practical examinations. Regardless of which music conservatory you're following (if at all), being able to transpose at sight is a valuable skill to have in your "musician's toolbox" It's practical music theory! If you play for vocalists, I can guarantee you that you will need to transpose at some point - with very little preparation time. Here's a quick demo on how to practice transposing at the keyboard.