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Bluegrass Banjo at Sheldon's Place - Surrey, BC

Surrey, BC, right in the heart of the lower mainland, with beautiful weather, wonderful scenery and lots of opportunity for pickin'. You'd be hard pressed to find a finer place to live and pick bluegrass. Check back often for my take on things with five strings!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Practice Pointers

Practicing needs to have a structure to maximize its benefit. I've included some tips to help you organize your practice time better. Put the principles to work and you will find your progress maximized.

As far as practice goes, it’s most important to have a daily procedure to follow:

1. Always keep the big picture in front of you...

You can use books, DVDs or your own personally written list of goals. This will be your personal point of reference to help keep you on track. You'll see where you've come from and where you are heading. This will help to keep you inspired by knowing that you've made measurable progress and that all your practicing is beginning to pay off. Keeping a list of what you are wanting to achieve in the future will give you a goal to aspire to, providing purpose to your lessons and efforts.

2. Keep a record of exercises and songs for your daily practice.

These exercises will help you build a solid foundation for playing. They will be the ground work for your more advanced studies making them easier to master.

3. Always set aside your time for practice.

You will want to practice every day. A minimum of 1/2 hour per day should be your beginning goal. As you advance, you will need to set aside larger time slot for your daily practice. My former music teacher used to tell me as a young boy that if I missed one day of practice, the next day was just catchup practice. Do the math, 1 lost day = 2 lost days of progress. Miss 2 days = 4 lost days of progress.

4. Be patient with your progress.

It's easy to become down on yourself and discouraged with your progress. Often you will find that progress is not as rapid as other times. This is normal. Think of these periods of time as the time it takes to build a solid foundation. It is not wasted time. Great musicians are not born but made over thousands of hours of practice.

5. Always reinforce your current lessons with your previous lessons.

As a student, make it your responsibility to remember what you've learned in the past, applying these lessons to your current lessons. For instance, your hand positioning that was taught to you in the first weeks of your studies will need to be applied to all your lessons for the rest of your playing career. Make it your responsibility to apply everything you've learned to the current pieces you are practicing.

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