I’ve found that unless you are in the ‘zone’ while practicing an instrument, it can seem like a chore. This is otherwise known as deliberate practice. This is a kind of deep practice, which helps you improve the most. I have found these tips to be the most helpful when I want to perfect a piece of music.
1. Slow it down : This usually happens when you start a piece of music and you immediately want to play it really really fast, right away. The problem with this is that it also comes with making tons of mistakes. Therefore, its a good idea to trade in sloppiness for precision by slowing it down. The slowest you can possibly go.
2. Practice alone: Practicing alone helps you to push yourself to the edge of your ability and also helps to develop discipline, because it doesn’t depend on others. World-class performers spend five times as many hours practicing alone.
3. Stop before you’re exhausted: The sign of exhaustion usually comes when improvement seems to stop. You make more errors, you have less concentration and you take shortcuts in your pieces. This creates bad habits which are harder to fix once you start playing a piece incorrectly. When this happens, stop practicing.
4. Use the 3 x 10 technique: Our brains make stronger connections when you repeat something over and over again. The ideal way of doing this is to play something three times with ten minute breaks in between. This works especially well for difficult pieces of music you are trying to master.
These four techniques have helped me immensely when working on a new piece of music. Which techniques help you to achieve perfection in music?
Useful books on deliberate practice: