12 Golden Rules of Correct Practice
If you want to get the the next level in your guitar playing follow these rules!
1) Patience & Consistency: Music is muscular, neurological, and psychological. Results only happen with CORRECT, patient, cumulative, & consistent practice.
2) Listening: Always listen to recordings of the music you are learning. Make this a daily habit.
3) Good Sound: Always practice cleanly, dynamically, and with good tone (even when practicing slowly).
4) Relaxation: Always practice with minimal tension and minimal effort in both hands and in your body
5) Chunking: Work on just 2-4 short chunks (i.e., measures, lines, or phrases) of music at a time (i.e., per practice session or per day). And randomize the order!
6) Be Deliberate: Music practice is problem-solving, NOT mindless repetition. Look for challenging or error spots. Figure out why it's challenging or why the error occurred. Develop a solution. Try the solution -- SLOWLY. If it worked, repeat 5-10 times CORRECTLY. If it didn't work, try another possible solution.
7) Repeat Less: Goal is to repeat each musical phrase no more than 5-7 times CORRECTLY (i.e., without mistakes and having accomplished specific proficiency goals). Then stop and move on to the next chunk. Practice isn't about how many times you repeat or how long you practice. It's about accomplishing your specific goal correctly. When you repeat, your repetitions should be goal oriented.
8) Fix Mistakes: Stop and fix mistakes as soon as they occur. For every mistake you make, you need to play the erred musical phrase 2-3 times CORRECTLY for it to count.
9) Take LOTS of breaks: Every 3-5 minutes, take a 1 minute break. Every 45 minutes, take a 15-20 minute break. If you can, split up your practice sessions throughout the day (e.g., after breakfast, after lunch, and after dinner). Practice sessions should be no more than 50 minutes long.
10) Increase tempo: ONLY increase tempo when you can play a musical phrase correctly (see 1-9 above). Play it twice at one tempo. If there are no mistakes, play it twice at a slightly faster tempo. Keep doing this (no more than 10 reps.) until you reach you limit. When you reach your limit, pull back a bit so you don't make mistakes. Then push toward your limit again. Keep doing that! Working near your limit is where you need to work if you want to increase tempo.
11) Find a good teacher! A good teacher understands these principles and will show you how to incorporate them into your practice.
12) Enjoy!: Learning to play an instrument and improving at it is VERY hard work. But if you do it right, you'll reap the benefits sooner than you think! Always remember to enjoy the path! If you do, you'll enjoy the results even more!