Monday, September 8, 2014

Practice Habits for Music Students

Carnegie Hall, New York
An classic joke goes like this:  a tourist stops a native New Yorker on the street and asks, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?"  The New Yorker answers "Practice.  Practice."

In his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell estimates that it takes 10,000 hours of practice time to achieve mastery.  If you practice two hours per day, it will take you about fourteen years to reach that mark.  At four hours per day, that's just under seven years.
But of course there's more to it than that.  How you practice is as important as how much you practice.  If you merely repeat a half-baked piece you're just "practicing your mistakes."   Even worse, you could be forming intractable bad habits that could hurt your technique and your body.   Time spent reinforcing bad habits is time wasted.

How can you improve your habits?  First, you need to understand what habits are and how they work.  The New York Times best-seller, The Power of Habit: Why we do What we do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg (BF335 .D775 2012 ) explains how cues and rewards work to establish new habits... and why old habits are so hard to extinguish.

The library also has several books for musicians.  For tips on making the most of your practice time, check out these books in the "Practicing (Music)" subject:

The Musician's Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness, by Gerald Klickstein
MT 75 .K74 2009

Practicing Successfully: A Masterclass in the Musical Art, by Elizabeth Green
ML3838 .G743 2006

Practicing for Artistic Success: The Musician's Guide to Self-Empowerment, by Burton Kaplan
MT170 .K37 2004

The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart, by Madeline Bruser
ML 3838 .B78 1999

Books on Sport Psychology may also be of interest, such as Clinical Sport Psychology, by Frank Gardner and Zella Moore.  (GV706.4 .G35 2006)  Training, mastery, and performance issues are common to sports as well as the performing arts.


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