Comparison is the single most effective direct practice strategy you can use. In its most basic form, comparison practice is simply modeling your playing after a better player, such as a private teacher or a professional. In middle school, I changed schools in the middle of the year. When I started band at my new school, my band teacher Mr. McBrien put me between the last two trumpet players and told me I could challenge my way up the section, which had ten players. It was a new experience for...

Conditioning is one of the most overlooked and misunderstood forms of practice. There seems to be a common belief out there that if you want to get more strength, endurance, capacity, and control, you just need to practice more. Inefficient, to say the least.

Direct practice is the what most of us think of when we think of practice. It is, of course, only one of the three pillars that goes into making a master musician (the other two are Self-Management and Domain Knowledge). If you aren’t already familiar with the three pillars, I recommend you start here. Today we’re going to start drilling down into some specific strategies to use direct practice more efficiently. Specifically, we’re going to talk about practicing for consistency and...

We all want to be better musicians. But how do we know whether we're working on the right things?

I recently got this question in a Facebook group: "I’d love specific ideas for learning to play fast. I know how to 'work up a passage' but I'm looking for ways to in general get better at playing fast. Do I need to just continue working on the things I'm not as good at, or are there specific ways to work on speed in playing? I think its fun to play fast, but find it very difficult. I heard a ballet teacher say you have to dance fast to be able to dance fast... thoughts?" Great question....
When you skip practice, there’s usually a reason. Sometimes it’s a bad reason: You didn’t plan ahead and you ran out of time. You’re good enough already and you don’t need to practice. Your video game town has just been attacked by dragons and you have the only remaining black arrow that can save the kingdom. And sometimes it’s a good reason: You are physically fatigued and don’t want to risk injury. You are seriously ill. Your actual town has just been attacked by real dragons...
Do you find that your practice wanders? That despite your best intentions to focus, you often find yourself fixing mistakes as they come instead of targeting specific sections?