Posted by Jay Bertolet on July 01, 1999 at 07:56:05:
In Reply to: PRACTICE!!! posted by jon schultz on June 29, 1999 at 16:56:51:
I agree with those who posted earlier that simply counting the hours per day is a ridiculous method of determining success or failure in reaching your musical potential. That said, I understand that it is SO easy to rationalize that it won't hurt to quit practicing a little early to go have a beer or play some game. These days, I rarely practice more than 90 minutes a day. But what I get done in those 90 minutes is more than enough to maintain my current skills and allows me to improve in areas that need it. My experience has been that I used to practice alot more per day than I do now. In college, I had my 8 hour days and more. What I discovered is that how efficiently I practice dictates how long I practice. I remember practicing 5-8 hours a day before auditions and then feeling unprepared when I stepped on stage. I also remember practicing little more than a couple hours a day for a couple of weeks and then doing well in auditions.
I really think the issue is how much do you get done in a practice session? When you sit down with the instrument, do you have a plan and some goals? What will you accomplish today? Too many players sit in a practice room and follow a routine where they shut down their mind and go through the motions, like a robot, and they come out no different than when they started. Don't get me wrong, I think there are mindless parts to practicing. Muscle building can be a particularly mindless task. The key is to be functioning on multiple levels when evaluating your playing during practice. I always try to listen for other things in my playing while I'm concentrating on any one thing. Another common problem is when players practice things they can already play because they like to hear themselves play well. Again don't get me wrong, I believe it is very important to be happy with your playing, to a certain extent, and everyone needs time playing music they enjoy. But this should not be considered practice time. Practice is work. It may be work you enjoy but it is work just the same. If not, maybe you need to examine your methods to define exactly what it is you're doing in a practice room.
So, how long should you practice? My definition is easy. For me, I practice as much as it takes so that when I sit down to perform, be it concert or audition or solo recital, I have the confidence of being prepared and able to do all I want to do with the music I'm playing. If I haven't prepared adequately, it is immediately obvious to me.