Skip to main content

20 Practice Tips

Here's another outstanding offering from Australian music educator Nicole Murphy. Her postings on the Music Teacher's blog are always insightful, and her compilation of "20 Practice Tips" for musicians is no exception:

1. Warm Up
2. Practise often
Small, frequent practice sessions are more effective than one or two longer sessions each week.
3. Have a plan
Have immediate, short and long-term goals.
4. Develop a practise routine that works for you
5. Practise at your instrument and away from it
Next time you’re on a bus, plane or train, try practising without your instrument. Study the score, analyse the harmony, think through the phrasing. You will be amazed at how easy it is to become familiar with a piece when you don’t have your technique distracting you.
6. Listen
Enough said.
7. Make notes
Keep a pencil with your instrument and scribble as often as you need to in a practice journal or on your music. As you become more familiar with a piece you can start to remove unnecessary practise markings from the score.
8. Make noise
Don’t be afraid to sing, clap or count aloud.
9. Listen to different recordings of repertoire you are learning
Analyse aspects of technique, expression, style and interpretation.
10. Identify the problem
Don’t bash through a piece aimlessly, wondering why it hasn’t improved. Identify the problem and get to work on that particular passage.
11. Repetition is key
If you play a particular passage incorrectly 5 times in a row, then finally get it right on the sixth try, don’t move onto something else. In doing so, you have effectively practised the wrong thing 5 times and the correct passage only once. The number of times you play a passage correctly needs to far outweigh the number of times you played it incorrectly.
12. Decide on fingering and be consistent with it
Make decisions early in the process and stick with them.
13. Play as many details on your first read as possible
Dynamics, articulation, phrasing, etc are as much a part of the music as the pitches and rhythms.
14. Practise slowly
15. Refer constantly to lesson notes
Prior to each practice session, read over the lesson notes from your teacher.
16. Record yourself
This can sometimes help with Practise Tip #7.
17. Understand the difference between practice and play...
And make sure you do both!
18. Don’t practise when you are tired
You won’t achieve anything if you aren’t focused and concentrating when you practise. This only leads to frustration.
19. Be aware of your entire body, not merely your fingers
20. Be inspired
Feed yourself a steady diet of live performances, books on music, YouTube clips and audio recordings of your favourite performers.


  1. This is great! Thanks for sharing. I think once I start up again, I'll start bringing my recorder. I can't always remember everything and making notes in lessons is too cumbersome. :) I record my voice lessons - why not piano?!


  2. Agreed - this is one of the best listings of practice techniques I've ever come across.

    Everyone is welcome to record lessons with me. I know this method works well for many students, and it doesn't bother me one bit. Of course, I'll have to up my number of quips per minute to make the playback more enjoyable. Then again, that might be a really bad idea.



Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

2013 CM Theory Practice Test Answer Key

Happy puppy says: " You can find the answers to your CM 2013 Practice Test here. "

CM Ear Training Evaluation mp3's

Beethoven practicing ear training (circa 1820 ) 2004 Theory Test Ear Training Links: Prep Level Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7 Level 8 Level 9 Advanced Level 2007 Theory Test Ear Training Links: Prep Level Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7 Level 8 Level 9 Advanced Level 2008 Theory Test Ear Training Links: Prep Level Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7 Level 8 Level 9 Advanced Level 2013 Theory Test Ear Training Links: Prep Level Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7 Level 8 Level 9 Advanced Leve l Beethoven after upgrading his headphones. Note the happier expression!

May 20th Recital - details & directions

The student recital will be held Saturday, May 20th at Christ's Community Church (CCC) in Hayward. The address of the church is: 25927 Kay Avenue in Hayward . For driving directions to CCC, follow this link. **Plenty of parking will be available in the neighborhood surrounding the church There will be 2 groups of performers, with a set of Stevie Wonder songs in between: - Group 1 starts at 2:30pm - Stevie Wonder set starts at 3:30pm - Group 2 starts at 4:00pm Each student will know ahead of time which group they are a part of. Performers:  - please arrive 20-30 minutes early  - dress code: nice casual  - performers with long hair: plan to wear your hair up or pulled back  - masks are not required in the church  - students need to bring their own sheet music; I will not have copies of anyone's music at the recital No tickets or entry fee required for this event -- all are welcome. Still have questions? Email me at Performers: please read th