Have you ever asked yourself, is it worth practicing today? Well you should! Far too many musicians spend countless hours practicing only to gain very little results (skill-based results, not prize-based results as they are totally out of your control). If you are not practicing effectively or correctly, then there really isn’t much point in practicing at all. When you sacrifice things such as spending time with your family, hanging with your buddies or spending time on a project at home so you can practice, then you want to make sure every minute of that practice counts.
Each week I ask my students two things. 1) How was your weekend/week and what did you get up to? 2) What did you practice and how long for each day?.
I always do it in that order. First thing’s first – family, friends and life are the key to a happy existence. I really think it’s important that musicians balance their commitment to their instrument with a bit of fun and enjoyment. I know too many people who invest a lot of time into their instrument, and very little into their family/friends. And often, you can see the tension in their family/social life. These people are often the ones not getting the results (again : skill-based results, not prize-based results) they are wanting. I think they are likely spending their “practice” time incorrectly.
Many of you will be familiar with the 10,000 hour rule. Statistics say that it takes a human 10,000 hours of practice to become a master of their instrument. This is quite general, but of course this would mean that the majority of those hours would need to be used effectively and with correct practice for it to actually happen. If someone uses the wrong side of a paint brush (the wooden end with NO bristles) and does this for 10,000 hours, will they become a master artist? I think not! The same thing applies to drumming, bagpiping or any other instrument. Correct practice is the only way to achieve results. Of course, not everyone wants to compete for physical prizes, but surely everyone who plays an instrument would want to make the most of their personal practice time? Plus, it’s WAY more fun when you know you are making progress and enjoying the fruits of your labour.
In my personal opinion, it’s not a race to see how quickly you can rack up 10,000 hours of personal practice. In fact, I would just throw that idea right out the window. Learning an instrument is a journey. You are on a journey of discovery, development and enjoyment. I think that choosing to learn an instrument is a personal decision that you want to bring music to your own ears and to others.
10 tips for practicing effectively.
- To make steady progress you obviously need to commit to regular and frequent personal practice outside of band or ensemble practices. 20-30 minutes, 5 times a week isn’t too much to ask is it? If you can commit to this then you will be on the right track. If you practice more than this then you will see greater results more quickly.
- Practice correctly. Learn how to hold your sticks properly. If you don’t have a tutor then jump on YouTube and check out some of the worlds best pipe band drummers. Monkey-see, Monkey-do.
- Have structure. Don’t just pick up your sticks randomly and play (unless you are just jamming and having fun!). Write down your short term goals, identify your weaknesses and get your hands on specific rudiments that will help you reach your goals.
- Journal. Take notes during and after your practice. This is a great way to see your progress and it keeps you “on task”.
- Practice in an environment where you are relaxed, comfortable and free from any distractions. No Facebook nearby!!
- Seek advice. Ask your tutor to let you know if you are doing the right things and talk to them about your practice.
- Once you become tired or irritable – stop practicing!! It’s not about tallying up the minutes. It’s about effective practice, and ENJOYMENT!
- Record yourself regularly. You will be able to self-critique yourself and make much better progress.
- If your hands hurt – stop and take a break
- Spend time with your family and friends!
If anyone else has anything else to add – please do shout out! Thank you to the many drummers throughout the world who continually share their thoughts on my FB posts. Cruise on over to my facebook page and say hello!
Not long until Easter – remember to kick back with some chocolate and hang with the family. I’m looking forward to chillaxing and cracking a bottle of vino!