Value of Practice – How to Raise It

value of practiceListeners will quickly notice the value of practice whenever they hear a musician perform. The player will play better, will enjoy playing more and everyone listening will appreciate the preparation.

Raising the Value of Practice

Your child will get the greatest value from their lessons when they establish a regular practice schedule at home.  Lesson time is used to teach technique and assign material which students should practice prior to their next lesson.  The value of practice comes from improving the skills of a player.  If a student has not practiced the assigned material, they won’t play it confidently in the next lesson. The tutor is then forced to revisit the previous week’s lesson material and ‘re-assign’ it which significantly slows down progress and can become frustrating for everyone.  It also means you are not getting the most value from your lesson fees.

How is learning a brass instrument different to any other instrument?

The Practice EffectWhen playing a brass instrument, each note needs to be heard before it’s played and the lips need to buzz at the correct speed to produce each note.  No one can do this confidently if they are unfamiliar with their instrument – talented or not. Regular practice allows the student to become very familiar with their instrument.  When they play better, they enjoy playing even more, then they want to practice more, then they play better, and so on.   Students who practice regularly accelerate their capability rapidly and dramatically, regardless of ‘talent’.

This principle also works in reverse. If a student rarely practices, they don’t play well, they then have less fun and become frustrated and demotivated, then they want to practice even less, and so on.  In this situation, it is only a matter of time before the student simply wants to quit altogether.

The value of a Practice Routine

I highly recommend a daily practice schedule and establishing it as a routine. 

If there is no regular practice time or it’s not daily, it becomes very difficult to establish a routine.  Practicing will become another optional activity amongst the myriad of other competing priorities in a child’s busy life and it probably won’t happen. Some students appear week after week for their lesson armed with a host of reasons why they couldn’t practice at all the previous week. Their progress is very slow compared to their peers who have an established practice routine.

Attending a lesson should not be considered to be a substitute for a practice session.  In a lesson, there may, or may not be much actual playing – it depends on how much verbal instruction is provided in that lesson.

In a practice session, the student should be doing lots of actual playing and should include repetition which can’t be accommodated in a lesson.

To help keep a record of progress, consider using a Lesson and Practice Journal.