Countless times each shift I hear teachers telling their faithful students to practice, practice and practice more. And after thinking about it for a while, I ask myself “What do teachers mean when they tell their students to practice?”
Having learnt piano for a while back in the day, I remember my teacher giving me 10 circles to colour in, one for each time I practiced my piece. So my aim was not to play my piece perfectly and colour in one dot, but rather to colour in the 10 dots as quickly as possible so I could go and play. My hurried, rough practice sessions obviously did not do me any good, but instead set me back considerably.
Looking back, if I had practiced my pieces the right way, I probably would have gotten further than I had, and probably would have enjoyed my lessons a lot more as well.
So what is practicing the right way anyway? One of our renown teachers suggests that practicing the right way involves playing a piece that is suitable for your level- that is, not too easy and not too difficult, but just right. It also involves playing at a tempo that you can handle- there is no point trying to play a piece very fast if you’re going to play a million mistakes. You are inevitably practicing your mistakes as well! So take your time, challenge yourself but don’t go overboard, and have fun practicing! You will look back and be grateful for your efforts!