Most of us have heard the old axiom “practice makes perfect”. “Practice makes perfect” used as motivation to practice seems to be a good idea, but this statement simply is not true. One can practice, practice and practice more and yet continue to make the same mistakes.
Perhaps this scenario sounds familiar:
1. Get out music book
2. Go to instrument
3. Play through song/piece
4. Make mistake(s)
5. Start over and play it again
6. Make the SAME mistake(s) in the SAME place(s)
7. Repeat, over and over
Hmmmm…seemingly practice has NOT made perfect. The same mistakes in the same places. What happened? Do you notice that whenever you start over and play the piece again making the same mistake(s) in the same place(s) you are PRACTICING MAKING THE MISTAKE!? Yes, the more you practice making the same mistake the more you are programing your brain to play or sing that passage incorrectly. Practice may not make perfect, but practice will make permanent.
If we want to play perfectly, we must practice perfectly. Practicing forms habits, and we all want to have good habits whenever playing an instrument or singing. This means we must be very methodical and systematic during our periods of practice. “Playing through a song” is not practice. I repeat: “playing through a song” is NOT practice. “Playing through a song” is exactly that: playing through a song. This is neither methodical nor systematic. While there is nothing wrong with playing through a song (in fact it can and should be quite enjoyable) do not confuse playing through a song with practicing a song.
I am beginning a series on how to practice. This series is intended to help you find more success during your practice time. As you succeed during your practice, you will enjoy practicing more and thus want to practice more. Furthermore, you will be more accomplished and confident in your music skills.