The title of this blog comes from Mark Levine’s very popular Jazz Theory book. I think it is important for musicians practicing all styles to “make music when practicing” rather than just Jazz musicians. It’s common for people to think about playing those dreaded scales over and over again at the piano, guitar, or any instrument. Perhaps this is mentioned in a Jazz book because of the highly improvisational nature of Jazz music but you can make any style of music fun while practicing with your scales and exercises. In other words, you should play with feeling and intensity while practicing. Pretend you are doing a major performance with all eyes on you. Make it fun for yourself or it will become drudgery. The path to becoming an awesome musician can be one of much pain and suffering and boredom if you hate your practice time. Even people that play a lot of shows spend about 10 times as much time in the woodshed practicing away. If you hate practicing then realizing that you’re probably going to perform a lot less than you practice is not very good news. I’m not trying to sound Zen but please enjoy the journey. There is a gap between being a beginner and being great. Whatever it is that you do in your life will get better with a lot of practice.
Learn to practice your weaknesses
Some people will practice only the things that they know best and neglect to work on the things that they need most. Recognizing your weaknesses and not avoiding them is the key to getting better. I love it when a student tells me that they hate this chord, or this scale, or song or whatever. If you hate something about your instrument, it usually means that you aren’t very good at it and you don’t understand it. Some people have billions of dollars and others have nothing but we all have an equal amount of time and so time is extremely valuable. Practice time is hard for all of us to squeeze in so it’s vital that you pinpoint your weakness and go after it in your practice. 15 minutes of your time focusing on a single weakness will surely improve your skill in that area. 15 minutes of continuous practice is quite a long time if you are focused.
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Grosse Pointe Music Academy
2 locations serving Metro Detroit
5880 N. Canton Center Rd. Ste. 425
17012 Mack Ave.
Grosse Pointe Park, MI