5 Ways to Practise an Instrument Effectively
Updated: Apr 10
Being a piano teacher for the past 12 years, I've heard my students (both young and old) tell me that they have "no time to practise" before the next lesson. While Practice certainly makes Progress, it's really not about the amount of time spent to practise, but the quality of each practice session.
When I was 25, I decided to further my violin studies and took up private lessons at home (link to violin agency website). Wow, it was really tough juggling learning an instrument and other commitment from work, family and at home. What made it a lot more stressful was that I was planning for my wedding during my examination period. I had so much to learn yet so little time to practise.
Speaking from experience, I would now like to share 5 tips on How you can Practise an Instrument Effectively in this modern fast paced world!
1) Leave your instrument out of the bag!
I have to thank my violin teacher for this great tip he had given me. I used to keep my violin back in its casing after every lesson and put it at the corner of my room where it was out of the way.
But you know how people say "out of sight, out of mind" right? I hardly took it out of its case over the week.
So I decided to change things up one day and it made a lot of difference! I kept it out of its case in my living room, but in a safe place where I knew no one would knock it over.
I realised that after each lesson when my teacher left my home, I would continue to practise for a while more to recap what he had just gone through. Over the week, whenever I had pockets of time in between tasks (e.g. waiting for my parents to be ready to get out of the house, 15 min break before my next piano student arrived for class etc.), I would be more inclined to pick up my violin to practise since it's already out in front of me.
Here at TravelClef, our instruments are made portable and easy to bring on-the-go. For our Ukulele and Guitar Students, you may want to buy a Ukulele Stand or Guitar Stand for your instrument. This would be a better alternative to leaving it on the floor or leaning it dangerously against a chair.
2) Choose Quality over Quantity
When I was young, my parents kept emphasising that I had to practise my piano 3 times a week, at least 1 hour each time in order to improve.
Did I do it? Yes I did. Did it work? Yes it did.
But is it possible to do it now when I have a toddler to chase after at home, dishes to wash and a never ending task list?
Which is why I've changed my approach and tell my students to focus on the important techniques required in the piece that they are learning. There's no point we put an exact figure to the amount of time we should practise for and to keep repeating the piece from start to end.
Work on the technique first, then the song.
I know, learning a new song can be really exciting! But if a new strumming pattern on the guitar or an arpeggio technique is required for the new song on the keyboard, always start off your practice session by tackling the new technique first. Foundation is really important when you are learning an instrument...
Never take shortcuts! :)
3) Keep listening to it!
Whenever I have an upcoming gig with new songs to learn, I realise that listening to it on repeat cuts short on my practice time since it helps me familiarise with it first. I listen to it on the go - when I'm driving, cooking, packing my toddler's school bag. And even when I was waiting to enter the examination room for my violin exam years back, I would have my earphones and music on to prep me for my big performance.
If you have a new song you need to learn, try listening to it a few times before your practice session.
4) Make Practising part of your daily routine
There are some things that will always stay in my daily routine. Brushing and flossing my teeth is something I MUST do before I go to bed every night. For my husband? Drinking coffee first thing in the morning helps kick start his day!
How about adding practising your instrument part of your daily routine too?
Perhaps it could be something you'd do after you shower, while waiting for your hair to dry, or even a quick 10 min practice session right before you go to bed.
And if you'd like to expand your repertoire, do check out the various volumes of online tutorials we have created specially for you that are currently on a 70% discount!
5) Join our Music Gym sessions
(TravelClef's Music Gym sessions are currently suspended due to Covid-19. Do check out https://www.travelclef.com/music-gym once the circuit breaker has been lifted to see the new available dates of our sessions)
Available on a monthly basis, each 1.5 hour jamming session which is held at our music school is a great way for you to expand your song repertoire and improve your techniques.
During this session, our Ukulele, Keyboard and Guitar students come together to jam as a band and our most popular sessions were the Hokkien and Cantonese Music Theme jamming sessions!
Seats get filled up really quickly every month so do remember to reserve your slot early for our upcoming session: https://www.travelclef.com/music-gym
TravelClef teaches the keyboard, guitar, ukulele and cajon. Check out our music classes here: www.travelclef.com/public
If you're looking for private music teachers to guide you individually at home or at the teacher's studio, feel free to contact us to know more about private piano lessons, private guitar lessons or private violin lessons. (click on the bolded links to find out more).