EpISODE 83 Practice! Practice! Practice!

HOSTS- Jeremy Burns, Matthew Scott Phillips


TYPE- Special Topics




BUMPER MUSIC- "Practice! Practice! Practice!" (Area 47 Music)

ANNOUNCER- Mike Cunliffe


We talk a good bit about theory, ear training and history. But let's talk about you and your craft. The only way to get better at playing your instrument, ear training and theory is to practice like crazy! In this episode, we will focus on how to practice more efficiently and effectively. Let's get to work!


The following discussion was taken from:

"10 Ways To Optimize Your Music Practice",

on NPR.org, by Anastasia Tsioulcas.

1-Find Somewhere Quiet- At best have a designated room. At worst, a corner in the living room. It’s also a part of establishing a ritual or a schedule.


2-Have Your Supplies Nearby- Try to have a tuner, notepad (if not notation paper), pencil with a good eraser, metronome and literature.


3-Technology Can Be An Amazing Aid- Take advantage of your smart phone, tablet or laptop. Try to have at least a metronome, a tuner and a timer.


4-Begin With An End In Mind- Have a goal before you begin each practice session. Ask yourself, "What will I work on today?" or "How much time should I delegate to each exercise?"


5-Map A Practice Session Out Like A Workout- Some musicians have breathing and stretching rituals before they pick up their instrument. Most important, it’s good to warm up your fingers with scales and arpeggios.


6-Practice Smarter, Not Necessarily Longer- For example, give your self a small dedicated time slot (5 or 10 minutes) to work on a problem area. This may be where the timer comes in handy.


7-Don’t Start At The Beginning Every Time- As good as it feels to play the opening passage perfectly, there may be more digestible material in other parts.


8-Challenge Yourself, Physically- Researchers suggest that if you add a physical challenge (such as stand on one leg or walking), to a difficult passage of music or riff, your brain will carve out new neural pathways that it wouldn’t have otherwise.


9-Practice Away From Your Instrument- Many professionals and artists use visualization techniques even when they are away from their craft.


10-Reward Your Hard Work In Positive Ways- When your done with a practice session, treat yourself to something nice! Perhaps your favorite dish or catch up on some shows!


The following summary was taken from:

"10 Ear Training Tips for the Adult Beginner",

on musical-u.com, by Sabrina Peña Young.


-Start simple and listen simple. Try to separate the low sounds from the high sounds. Pay attention to tempos, rhythms and dynamics. Familiarize yourself with the musical environment.


-Test your hearing. It's good to know what frequencies you can still hear. As we age, we loose the high end frequencies.


-Test your ear training skills and evaluate where you are.


-Suggested order: 1st let rhythm guide your learning. Tap, snap, clap along. Then move onto melody, then harmony. Try to actively apply these concepts when practicing your instrument.


-Involve a friend. This is a good chance to connect with another musical friend or family member.


-Learn about audio. Try to educate yourself on how sound works. It's quite fascinating and can inform how you work with it!


The following summary was taken from the following articles:

“The 10,000 Hour Rule Is Not Real”,

on Smithsonianmag.com, by Rachel Nuwer


"The “10,000-hour rule” Was Debunked Again. That’s a Relief.",

on Vox.com, by Brian Resnick


"Why Gladwell’s 10,000-hour Rule Is Wrong",

 on bbc.com, by David Bradly

It was once suggested that if someone dedicated 10,000 hours, or more, to a craft or skill, they have reached a level of mastery in said skill. Later, more extensive studies have shown that practice counts towards mastery. But the number of hours (10,000, in this case) might be less important than other factors such as age, intelligence and "natural" talent.