Do you feel pressured to practice multiple hours a day? Do you ever feel defeated after hours of practice? Then, this is the right blog for you. Feeding yourself negative messages after hours of practice can wreak havoc on your self-esteem. Instead of beating yourself up, no pun-intended, learn how to practice smarter, not harder. Implementing a practice mindset will set your practice sessions on fire and send positive messages to your brain which will further propel your abilities as a percussionist.
When I was in graduate school, I practiced 8 or more hours a day and wore that as a badge of honor. Little did I know those hours were being wasted with countless repetitions that would prove to be ineffective in the long-term. It wasn't until many years later that I learned a more effective way to practice which was focused on quality rather than quantity. Once I came to this realization, it was as if I had gained a sense of renewal and joy in practicing. I began to have fun and leave my practice sessions with a positive attitude which kept me on track for success.
The following practice tips are ones that I have personally used and learned about from the book "The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle. This is a book that changed my practice mindset and will transform how you approach teaching and learning your instrument.
1. Set practice goals
2. Set aside a consistent practice time
3. Track your goals
4. Practice music in small chunks (slow to fast)
5. Use a drum machine or a metronome
6. Have fun with the process (i.e. play around with challenging passages by:
-playing a part backwards
-playing a part in a different style from the original
-playing in a different rhythm than written
Sometimes taking music out of its original context can break the monotony and allow your brain to stretch in new ways which makes it easier to learn challenging passages.
7. Have a positive attitude
8. Set practice limits for each goal
9. Visualize music
10. Listen to professional recordings
Musicians are often guilty of obsessing over a passage until they get it correct. If you spend hours on one thing, you are wasting your time and practicing bad habits. This is a sign to slow the music down to a tempo that can be played correctly. Once you are able to play it correctly 5 times in a row at the slow tempo, it is time to bump the tempo up by two metronome clicks. This technique will shave hours off your practice time and will be more productive as a result. It will also be mapped into your brain correctly the first time which is also scientifically proven.
Now it is time to go and practice! Get your practice mindset in place and soar! Best wishes to you on setting new practice goals in 2018! If you would like to be held accountable for your practice, post a small recording and show your work at #drumsmarllc on twitter or instagram. I look forward to hearing your progress!
K. Michelle Lewis
K. Michelle Lewis is passionate about music education, empowering students to create, and strengthening community through Community Drum Circles. She teaches Music at Bloom Elementary School in Louisville, KY. Ms. Lewis is the Adjunct Professor of Elementary Music and Percussion Methods at Indiana University Southeast. She is the Director of the Louisville Leopard Percussionists Middle School Percussion Ensembles that focus on creating and performing music of various genres. In addition, Michelle maintains an active percussion studio, DrumSmart LLC, where her students have achieved many honors. Michelle received her Bachelor of Music Education from Morehead State University and a Masters in Percussion Performance from Rutgers University. She has studied percussion with Frank Oddis, She-E Wu, and Dennis DeLucia. She currently performs with the Voices of Kentuckiana, Brass Band of Louisville, and the Louisville Pipeband. She is an education endorser for Salyers Percussion in TX.