TME Podcast Season 4, Ep. 10: Tips for Practicing Your Instrument

Description: Have you ever struggled with practicing your instrument? Do you need tips for practicing your instrument? Worry not because today we will discuss some strategies that you maybe overlooking.

Structural Considerations

  • Your short-term goal could be to memorize a piece of music or play a selection of 16-measures 15 times through without making a mistake.

  • For your mid-term goal you could master a particular method book or play a series of solos.

  • And for your long-term goal you could join an elite band or play a solo recital by the end of the year.

Practicing Technique

Practicing A New Piece

Memorizing New Music

Let us first identify why someone would feel memorizing a piece is important.

  • Firstly, by memorizing a piece of music it should make you feel like you are becoming a better musician. The rationale behind this is since if you have a piece of music memorized then you do not have to focus on reading it. Ultimately, if this focus is freed up then you can focus on more of the musical elements like tone, dynamics, and style.

  • By memorizing your music, it makes you appear more professional. Many professional soloists memorize their music, and this is an associated perspective you may want to be a part of.

  • An additional benefit to memorizing your music is that it also gives you the opportunity to see what is physically happening with your fingers or your embouchure in a mirror.

Next, lets identify why someone would not want to force student musicians to memorize music.

  • First, having a student memorize their music for a performance adds a lot or unwanted stress.

  • Often students worry about the “what if” scenario forgetting their piece. This unwanted anxiety often takes away the positive and musical energy that would normally be used to enhance the musicality of the piece.

  • Finally, students who are not good at memorizing music often spend way too mucg time on making a difficult task barrable. As a result, often this time is used practicing the structural components of the music rather than focusing on what the student really needs to do to make the music aesthetically pleasing.

Tips For Memorizing Music

If you insist on memorizing your music the following are tips and tricks for doing so in a variety of ways.

  • Memorize a piece of music as you learn it. Remember if you cannot play the piece of music correctly, you are not doing it right.

  • Memorize in short sections at a time.

  • Focus on memorizing the hard sections first.

  • Try memorizing the piece starting from the back to the front. This way you end up creating a good last impression.

  • When memorizing music try to use the honor system. Play the piece memorized and only look at the music when you absolutely must.

  • Analyze and study a section of music using the step-by-step method. This approach adds layers of musical nuance to your practice efforts and helps you memorize music from a visual and kinesthetic perspective.

  • Memorize your piece away from your instrument. Try playing or singing through your piece with an imaginary “air” instrument. Just imagine how good some of those “air guitarists” are out in the world.

  • Try creating a story that follows the stylistic traits of the musical piece.

  • Remember that slow practice and repetition are always great tools for memorizing a piece.

  • When you think you are almost done memorizing the piece, put the notated music away. Then play your piece. Sometimes muscle memory and the subconscious mind fills in the blanks that you can’t remember.

Final Thoughts