Common Practice Guide

Category: Practice Guide
Writer: Frankie Chan, Mrs Yau
Read the music carefully
After many years of being a student first and a teacher after, we often noticed that in our every day practice we can make small mistakes that may slow us down or might not bring the best out of our music. With these short tips we tried to go through some of them, hoping it will help students (and not only!) in their daily practice.

Read The Music Carefully

Probably one of the most common mistakes is not reading the music carefully at the beginning of our practice. We are all eager to play a new piece, but often this positive enthusiasm and willing to explore leads to a lack of carefulness in reading the music at the very start of our practice.

That happens often for chords, where an extra note or an accidental like a # or a b could be easily added or omitted.

That will lead to mistakes in learning that will have to be corrected in the future.

Therefore, before jumping into the real practice of a piece, we have to make sure then when we first read it, we’re actually playing all the correct notes.

Paying Attention During Your Practice Session

Who wants to keep repeating the same passage over and over for thousands times and still don’t see the big improvements we were expecting?

Most likely this happens due to a lack of concentration during practice. When practicing we have to try to be focused all the time instead of numbly repeating a passage or a piece. Repetition by itself hardly leads to improvements: it will only reinforce our muscle memory, being this good or bad.

To improve this aspect of practice, taking breaks is a great help. We need to refresh our brain before getting back to an active learning! Also, another important tip is to set specific goals for each practice session, and try to stick to them as much as possible.

Don't play Too Fast, Too Soon.

Of course we all want to play the piece “in tempo” as soon as possible.

But rushing the process and trying to play everything too fast and too soon might leads to a lack of control in technique and a poor stability in rhythm and phrasing.

Trying to play a piece a piece at a speed beyond our initial possibilities may also create a series of problems that will have to be fixed afterwards.

Therefore, we need to try to have control and consciousness of most of all aspects of the music we’re playing before moving on to a faster tempo. Increasing the speed gradually usually helps, and if we feel that once we play at a faster pace we are losing control, we could always go back to a slower tempo.

Don't Forget about The Musical Aspects of The Piece

It happened at least once to every one of us to think: “Oh, let me just fix this technical passage first, then I’ll take care about the music/dynamics etc.”?

That shouldn't be the standard practice's mindset all focused on the technical side. It’s very easy to forget about all the musical aspects of a piece while we are all focused on the technique side of it, especially if the piece is challenging.

However, dynamics, phrasing and style should always be engaged in our practice sessions, since they are fundamental parts of the music we are playing. Therefore, we can’t leave them behind!

The content is writing for the purpose of sharing only, and conducted by the following tutor(s). Please correct us if there are any deficiencies.
Contributing Writer(s)
Frankie Chan
Frankie Chan
California Baptist University (US), Hong Kong Baptist University
Violin, Western Music Theory
Mrs Yau
Mrs Yau
Achille Peri University (IT), Mannes School of Music (US)
Classical Guitar