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Thoughts on practicing.

by Conor on November 4th, 2013

What is practicing?  When your teacher asks you, “How much did you practice this week?” Do you know what they’re talking about?  When you ask your students to practice, what do they think you mean?  It seems simple, maybe it is for everyone else.  But over the last few years, I’ve learned that what I mean when I say the word “practice” isn’t necessarily the same thing as what other people think when they hear the word “practice”.

I’ve often been guilty of vaguely telling a student that they need to practice every day.  And I’ve been guilty of sitting in a chair with a guitar in my hands idly noodling claiming it as practice time.  I remember coming to the year end concert after my first year of teaching lessons.  I thought it would be fun to play something for the students as a way of inspiring them, and taking the edge off of the performance nerves a little bit.  Well, since I was the teacher, I put off preparing anything.  I kept telling myself I’ll just pick something the day of, it will be fun and easy.  Much to my dismay, sitting down the afternoon of the concert I realized what I had practiced for a year was singing and playing small portions of pop songs, out of time, and not always on key.  That meant that my level of technical endurance, the ability to play something from start to finish was probably worse than my students.  They had at least been working on one piece over the last month and a half in preparation for the evening.  In the end I pulled something together and faked my way through a James Taylor song.  But I learned a very valuable lesson that afternoon.

Practice is spending time intentionally working on one thing.  Now there’s all kinds of other things that go along with that, and build on top of that.  But that’s where it starts.

So over the next few weeks I’ll be talking about what I mean when I say the word practice, and a few different tools I use to get the most out of my own practice time.

From → Guitar, Music, Practice

  1. Good article man. Great reminder and I can relate with your story about the concert!

    • Conor permalink

      Thanks Steve! Since that experience, the times I carve out of the week to actually practice are definitely highlights, and help me to remember why I enjoy teaching so much.

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