Learn Music Faster – Use a Practice Sheet

Learn Music Faster – Use a Practice Sheet

This ‘Learn Music Faster’ series of posts highlights things my best students do that contributes towards their success. There are no secret formulae or magic tricks. Learning to play well still requires hard work, dedication and above all, practice. However, my students who do these things seem to improve quicker than the others.

 

Use a Practice Sheet

 

This is a sheet where you plan and write down what you’re going to practice. It has space for you to tick off each item each day. You can download my template practice sheet here.

Practice sheets are great as a reminder of what you are meant to be working on. This keeps your practice structured and focused. By ticking off the items as you do them you give yourself a visual indicator of how well you’ve been working. Lots of pen means you’ve had a good week. Lots of white space means you need to have a think about how to practice more reliably next week.

Practice sheets are also useful for recording metronome speeds for technical exercises. I put them instead of ticks when I’m building up speed on a particular exercise.

You don’t have to have a teacher to use a pratice sheet. You can make one up yourself. Spending a few minutes at the beginning of the week planning your week’s practice is time well spent. You will have to make sensible decisions about what you’ll spend your time on. Then you’re more likely to practice that reliably each day. This is far more effective than just practicing whatever you feel like on any given day.

If you have a teacher don’t be afraid to ask them to help you draw up a practice sheet in the last few minutes of each lesson. Hopefully they are doing this for you already, but if not it’s a perfectly reasonable request. You are responsible for your own development, they’re just there to guide you. So take the initiative if you need to.

In my experience, the students who come to me with their sheet filled in with ticks and metronome marks are the ones who reliably improve quickly.

2 Comments

  1. Adrian H

    Matt, I couldn’t agree more, I think that there is a lot to be said about keeping records of how much you practice, being disciplined to stick with it and above all being aware of your own development as a musician.

    With any skill that we train/practice to get good at we need to work towards goals or deadlines and I think that having practice sheets is a great way of breaking down what can sometimes seems like a monumental task into achievable steps.

    Anybody reading this should take their time to read your post ‘The Deep End: How to Learn Fast’ too – particularly the point that you make regarding necessity. I remember all too well that and empty practice sheet = a disappointed face from the teacher. If anything, using that next lesson as a deadline to make sure I could fill in the practice sheet was encouragement enough not to disappoint! It was also a great way to know which bits were easy to grasp and which bits had to be considered as high priority because of their difficulty.

    Great read, great blog!

    • Thanks Adrian – good to know this resonates with experienced musicians as well as beginners. You’ll be glad to hear there are 20 more posts written and scheduled in this series (I had a busy Christmas), so there’s plenty more to come!

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