Music Practice Techniques

The Gold Standard of  Practicing Music

The one practice tip universally recommended for any music instrument student, or even vocal student, is this. Go over tough spots three times.

Suppose you are singing a new song and one spot just gives you resistance. Maybe it’s the words, could be the intervals, or even the rhythm. But it doesn’t go smoothly. Then, stop!

Go over the hard spot three times. Maybe slow down a little. Make it easier to do. Then, do it three times.

If you have studied music with a teacher, I’ll bet you heard this already. It really is the gold standard of practicing music.

Dr. Louis Zagar, a well loved band leader in Dunedin, put it this way: the first time is for learning. The second is for mastery. The third is for confidence.

I recommend taking brief pause between each repetition. Don’t try to be a tape loop. Reset your mind to learning mode each time. You will make fewer errors and learn more quickly.

If you want to increase the speed, that’s good. Just allow yourself to go over the part three times at a doable speed. Then, push ahead a little and do three times more. This encodes your brain synapses for success.

The hard part for beginners is focus on the difficult part. Find a good starting place just before the challenge area, and a good stopping place just after. That short section is your practice unit.

It is a new skill to learn. And it is a very valuable skill. Expert musicians can do this effortlessly. But, it didn’t happen overnight. If you haven’t mastered the skill of isolating a short, hard part, do it right away. It will pay you huge dividends.

The doingness of three times will come up again. When i play fiddle tunes in a fiddle circle we usually do the tunes three times. Sometimes more, but usually at least three repetitions of the tune.

It corresponds to the Law of Three. First, the starting, then the continuation, finally, the ending. It’s a satisfying set, doing the tune three times. When you are able to, make it part of your practice routine.

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