“Practice makes perfect.” is an often repeated phrase in the world of music lessons, but it’s a misleading one at best. Truth is, practice doesn’t make perfect. If that were true the person who practices the greatest amount of time will achieve the most. However,there are many students who “practice” diligently but never make progress in the ways that our necessary. There are others who seemingly practice little but progress in great strides. What’s happening?
The reality is, “Perfect practice makes perfect.”
What’s the difference?
The difference is in the quality of practice, not quantity, and it makes all the difference.
Here are examples of bad practice:
- Consuming study material as fast as possible without completely internalizing the lessons within.
- Continually repeating mistakes with the hope that it will work itself out eventually.
- Always starting from the beginning of whatever study material.
- Trying to play fast without being accurate.
- Practicing without an understanding of rhythmic placement.
While you might make initial progress while practicing badly, you will quickly plateau if you never address the core problems. Worse yet, you may learn bad habits and will have to spend more time fixing those than had you practiced properly.
Here are some examples of perfect practice:
- Extracting as many musical lessons as you can from a single piece of material.
- Practicing good technique slowly, and gradually increasing the speed as the movements become internalized.
- Extrapolating problem areas in a piece of music and fixing them before reintroducing them into the full context.
- Practicing with a metronome click placed on different beats to reinforce your internal sense of rhythm.
Perfect practicing will make sure that you address all of your problems and ensure steady musical progress.
Perfect practice is also a great time saver! This is a powerful motivator for me, or anyone who finds limited time for practice. If you don’t practice perfectly, you will inevitably have to correct the bad habits you pickup. As a result you will be spending more time on material that could have been conquered if you did it correctly from the start.