Using Your Practice Time Wisely 

    One of the most challenging aspects of becoming a successful band member is learning how to improve. I find two main reasons why musicians do not achieve success in band. The first is lack of practice and the second is lack of knowledge about what and how to practice. When I was first starting out in band I remember how hard it was to practice and improve because I didn't understand what I was supposed to do. I had 20 minutes by myself in a room…how was I supposed to structure my time? Just sitting down to play music is not practice. Many students play their music from beginning to end and “they're done”…when actually what they have done is practice their mistakes. So here are some tips:

    1.Learn to actively practice. Active practice encourages musicians to make some decisions before even playing a note. Treat your music like a large puzzle. Take it apart piece by piece and then reassemble. Stop and spend time on the difficult passages, learning them thoroughly before moving on. Mark your music with a pencil, isolate the hard parts and then play them again and again until they are perfect. ALWAYS PLAY YOUR BEST.

    2.Practice with a goal in mind. Think about what you want to accomplish. Maybe you just want to learn # 33 in the book; but soon you will begin to have a different, more defined purpose. For example to be good enough to make the jazz band, or the honor band, region band, section leader, drum major or to win that college scholarship. A purpose helps you overcome challenges.

    3. Remember that the beginning band member is not going to sound like a professional. It takes a lot of hard work over a long period of time to sound great.
    Parents – prepare your musician to work hard and focus on learning new and challenging skills. Even if you know little or nothing about the instrument your child is learning, you can make a difference in their success. By reinforcing regular practice, providing a well-lit, quiet environment for practice, and being a constant source of encouragement, you will boost your child's enthusiasm and determination to succeed in band.

    4. Make success a habit. In order to become musicians, students must take responsibility for themselves and become dedicated to improving – this means making a commitment. Every child progresses at a different rate, but after working with thousands of young musicians, I have noticed one big difference between students who move ahead and those who lag behind: families that create a nurturing environment with high expectations of musical excellence tend to produce better musicians at a faster rate.

    5. The Practice Session- Time is limited- use it wisely. Your 20-30 minute practice session should be divided into these parts:

    Warm-up     Review     Learning New Material   Play Something Fun    After/ Instrument Care

      3-4 min       5-8 min          10-15 min                     5 - 10 min                       3 min

    6. Work Hard. Be The Best You Can Be. Never Give Up. HAVE FUN !