Focus on the good

Do you come away from your music practice sessions feeling generally positive or negative? The main point of practice is to improve and make our music sound better. In doing so we naturally focus on the sections we can’t play. Sometimes, though, it is really easy to think about everything that is wrong with how…

Routine and learning music

What are your thoughts on routine in the music practice room or the actual lesson? In the music lesson I have found some students seem to really love routine and are actually thrown when things are done in a different order. Whereas others respond much better to a more spontaneous approach (or at least something…

What ISN’T practice?

Playing your music through is not practice What do you consider a typical music practice session should consist of? Being able to play the entire piece through is important but doing just this – and nothing else – will not help you improve. The same mistakes and stumbles will remain (and possibly get reinforced) if…

Have you got ‘backing track’ syndrome?

When I first started learning the flute it was in the days where you had to buy separate books for each exam piece and there was no such thing as a CD or downloadable backing track (showing my age now!). Instead we lived next door to a lovely lady who played the piano and mum…

Don’t forget to have fun

Be creative and have fun Do you ever make time for fun in your music practice sessions (or suggest students do)? This is something I’ve always tried to do myself. Rather than spending the whole time focusing on what needs to be improved I leave a bit of time at the end for just playing….

The ‘secret’ to playing the piano!

Have I a secret about playing the piano? It’s a very simple one. I sit down on the piano stool and make myself comfortable – and I always make sure that the lid over the keyboard is open before I start to play Artur Schnabel I love this! You start reading, thinking it’s going to…

Don’t think too much

Do you ever find your thoughts get in the way of playing? Whether it’s a little voice in your brain saying ‘ooh there’s someone listening’ or ‘oh no, here comes that tricky bit!’ – or perhaps you are focusing so hard on trying to get a passage or bar right that you start overthinking it….

My favourite piece!

A student is almost always motivated to practice if he leaves his lessons feeling capable Frances Clark For me this is definitely one of the most important ingredients to ensure students actually go home and practice! One of my earliest memories of childhood piano lessons involves a piece I can’t actually remember the name of….

Beyond the notes

The goal of practising is to achieve a freedom of the mind that enables one to physically do whatever they want to do. Careful practising eventually allows one the freedom to be spontaneous to react onstage to the moment. Yo Yo Ma This is such a true quote and I think the key word here…

Quality not quantity

Practising is about quality not quantity Yo Yo Ma This has to be my most favourite quote about music practice! It might work well for others but clock watching never led to very productive practice sessions while I was learning. I found it far better to have a goal in mind rather than sit down…

Making mistakes

How do you view your mistakes in the practice room? Most of the time I think we perhaps react to our mistakes emotionally. We feel bad because we got it wrong. But perhaps we need to shift our perspective. Firstly, one thing guaranteed when learning a musical instrument is that you are going to make…