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.