How to Practice

1. Have materials needed before starting:
a. instrument
b. music
c. music stand
d. pencil (never use a pen to mark music!!)
e. chair which will allow you to sit with the proper posture (or practice while standing straight up, with knees not locked, which is better for you)

2. Practice every day for at least 30 minutes. Try to find a time that is the same every day so that practicing becomes part of your daily routine . Increase the practice time as endurance increases. You can't cram for a marathon, so don't cram for performances.

3. Practice in a quiet enclosed room, free of distractions. Practicing in front of others is not recommended, since this makes the practicing person want to "perform."

4. Warm up with long, sustained tones. Play scales, flexibility exercises, and technical exercises to warm up the instrument, your fingers, or your vocal folds. Percussionists should start with rudimentary sticking exercises, warming up the hands and tendons in the wrists gradually.

5. Play well - with a good tone. Play rhythms, pitches, articulations, dynamics, etc. exactly as written . Do not rush through easier parts or rob pitches of their full value. Practice only as fast as you can play/sing a passage cleanly before increasing the tempo.

6. Practice with goals in mind. Fix something. Can your fingers move the way you want them? Can you hold out the whole notes as long as you are supposed to? Are you playing all of the articulations correctly? Are you making musical phrases? Do you know what the musical terms mean in the music you are practicing? Practice parts you need to improve, not parts you already know. Concentrate on only a few aspects of performing at a time (tone, breathing, dynamics, rhythm, notes, phrasing, etc.).

7. Listen carefully and concentrate on what you are doing or the practice time is wasted. Did you fix what you set out to fix? Never settle for less than what you can be.

8. Take breaks when you need them to avoid boredom, but be disciplined enough to come back and finish what you are working on. Occasionally, play something fun, or figure out how to play/sing a TV theme or any song of your choice.

9. Once in a while, tape record yourself playing/singing and listen critically.