Getting The Most out of your Music Lessons and Practice Time

As both a teacher and student I have had both successful and disappointing lessons.  In this article we will look at ways to improve both your practice habits and time management.  By applying some if not all of these ideas you will not only achieve great strides in your own playing but will invigorate both your teacher and your self’s musical adventure.

Tabulature on Music Stand

Adequate Practice Time

First and foremost if you do not practice you will not improve.  Your greatest musical hero’s spent countless hours holed up in practice playing there bass or mandolin instead of countless other life pursuits.  I am not saying you must abandon all other aspects of your life for your music but you need to be realistic about how much time it is going to take to improve/learn a song, etc.  Each one of us will learn certain things at different paces so do not get down on your self if some things come at a slower pace.  At the bare minimum you should strive to practice your instrument at least 15 minutes a day.

Whatever you do don’t try to squeeze in a week worth of practice time into the day before or the day of your music lesson.  Your teacher will be able to tell they more than likely did same thing once or twice when they were students.

How You Practice

This is a point that really needs to be hammered home.  Nothing will be gained by glancing over a piece of music slugging through it to the end.  While you should play through the piece at least once it is critical to diagnosis your problems areas and pull those out of context.  Then practice those areas until you can play them correctly 10 times in a row without fail. After which put the problem area back in the larger context of the piece.

I start each of my practice session by playing through all 12 major and minor scales.  I feel that this not only a great warm up for my arms and ears but these scales are the basic building blocks of all the music we will be playing.  I make a point to explore different fingerings while I am going through these scales always trying to avoid complacency.

The next portion of my practice routine is spent focusing on material that is new or will be performed soon, again focusing on the problem areas.  This time is spent not only practicing difficult passages but also getting music to memory.  I also spend a portion of this timing refining technique working on etude's that push me outside of my comfort zone.

The final portion of my practice I like to focus on pieces I want to keep “under my fingers” i.e. pieces that I often perform that might be technically challenging or have a melody I need to keep in my ear.

I hope this article gives you some insight on ways of improving you bass guitar, double bass and mandolin practice.  Remember do always find the joy in music and that through your practice and music lessons you will continually develop the tools in which to fully express yourself.


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