How to Practice
How Much Should I Practice?
How good do you want to become? How much do you want to contribute to the team? There is no single answer for how much you should practice. Everyone is different. Some might find band easy, and some might find it difficult. Practice is important in either case in order for you to progress.
You will not become better if you do not practice. Remember - you get from band what you put into it.
You should practice as long as you can keep your concentration focused - whether that is 10 minutes a day or longer. At the same time, you NEED to make goals for what you want to accomplish while practicing so you don't waste your time.
As a rule of thumb, practicing more often is more important than practicing a lot one day and not at all the next day. In fact, it is shown this applies to any skill or area you want to improve at. For example, it is better to break a long 10 hour study session into 20, 30-minute sessions over a few weeks.
It's ultimately up to you how much better you want to be. To be an expert at anything, it has frequently been determined it takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice.
Individual (Home) Practice vs. Group Rehearsal (Band Class)
Practice at home is for learning your own part. Band class is for learning everyone else's part.
- Click link above for a practice strategy list, along with extra resources and tips.
- It is equally important to be able to understand the music prior to practicing. Ensure you can follow this linked practice checklist as well.
- Know all your note names and fingerings/positions. If you can't read the music, work on increasing the speed of your note reading (flash cards, Staff Wars, MusicRacer.com, etc.)
- Fundamentals should be solid - but often will need to be practiced in isolation (breathing, articulation, sound production, etc.)
- Rhythms should be understood and can be clapped/counted.
- Signs and symbols in the music should be understood (key signature, time signature, expressive markings, dynamics, etc.)
Balancing Music Practice and Homework, Sports, Etc.
Band, academic classes, and other extra-curricular activities like sports or clubs can all co-exist! You want to make sure you have your time managed as you find more and more things you would like to participate in.
If you are having trouble with homework becoming overwhelming, there is a homework club offered through the school. Below are some productivity and study tips that can apply perfectly to music practicing!
You Need Sleep!
Regardless of the amount of activities you participate in, you need to be getting 8-10 hours of sleep a night.
Being Great at Anything Requires Practice, Focus, and Hard Work
"You can't nap your way to being a great shooter." - Bobbie Kelsey, former UW Women's Basketball Coach
There is no magical trick. If you want to be a great basketball shooter, you need to get to the gym. If you want to be great at your instrument, you need to practice regularly.
Practice Should Not Be a Punishment
Practice in any area, whether sports or other arts, is designed to help students GET BETTER and ENJOY performing on their instrument. Oftentimes practice will be associated with a punishment. This causes resentment and a lack of will to practice, which in turn ruins the students' experience.
Don't Be Helpless
Don't learn to be helpless! Just because you cannot do something now, does not mean you cannot do it later. You can ALWAYS get better if you believe you can.
Other Quick Practice Resources
- Feedback-Generating Practice Tools
- Note Reading Practice
- Search "Metronome" on Google if you need a metronome in a pinch!
- Free Tuner App - Bandmate Chromatic Tuner