practice tutorial

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.