You may recall the definition of practice from our previous blog about the book "Outliers." It stated that practicing is "purposefully and single-mindedly playing [your] instrument with the intent to get better." But how do we accomplish this? I can't take sole credit for any of the following ideas, as most of them were taught to me by my own teachers and method books along the way. Regardless, this the approach to practicing I have internalized and aspire to pass on to my own students.
Playing an instrument is just as much, if not more, an intellectual task than a physical one. But, when we are first learning our instrument, the necessary physical development is often more taxing than the mental development. So early on we spend most of our practice time training our fingers, mouths, or limbs to do what we want them too. But soon the fingers learn how to move and the primary focus shifts to developing our mental ability to tell the body what to do.