The Practice Atmosphere

What a silly title!

I think it is fitting though because I have been asked to make some points about practice that will affect our progress in ways that we may not be aware.This subject is less about the ‘How’, and more about under which circumstances.

Let’s think ‘Who, What, Where, When and Why’.

I want to start with the ‘Who’ because of some statements that I have heard entirely too much of this week.‘Well, my mom didn’t tell me to practice’.Well, did your momma tell me she wanted to play guitar, or did you?

If you want to play guitar, then play it.Don’t just fool around and think you’re going to wake up one day and be a rock star.Oh, and by the way, a shiny new instrument doesn’t make you play better either.Granted, we might be more motivated to play a new instrument, but the instrument itself usually does not make us better players.Spending time on the instrument while paying attention to what you are doing, and working on what your weaknesses are will make you a better player.

Here is another comment that drives me bonkers: ‘Everything’.This is what I hear from certain students when I ask them what they worked on during the past week.It is better to work on one area for a large amount of time rather than a number of areas in small amounts of time.By the way, remember that we can only practice what we understand.

So, unless you know ‘Everything’, I bet you didn’t work on it.

Maybe I am being petty, but I think that the words we choose are very important to clear communication.

That is just my opinion.

When we practice should be daily.I am certain that I have mentioned this at least once to every student when they start taking lessons.Do you watch TV everyday?Do you play video games everyday?I watch TV as well as play video games.I do it a little bit each week, usually on the weekends.

We do not need to practice for hours at a time.Just a few minutes each day is better than skipping any days.Playing something one time is not practicing.Mindlessly noodling through a part with mistakes forty-five times in a row is not practicing properly.

Remember: Practice makes permanent!What you do repeatedly is what you will do automatically.The purpose of practice is to create the skill of playing something exactly as we intend to with little effort.

Many times we have heard: ‘Practice makes perfect.’


I believe that we can play anything perfectly if we are working carefully and slowly.Of course, we should always make time to play our instruments with complete abandon.No thinking, planning or care during this time on our instrument is important.I need to do more of this myself.

Think about where you practice.Is it in a room with the TV on?Is it in a room with screaming wives, husbands or children?Is it in a room next door to a stone-deaf forty year-old playing the same blues-rock riffs to an ostinato bass figure with his amp on 10?

Does he know what ‘Ostinato’ means?What about ‘Obnoxious’?

Ideally, we should practice in a space that is free from distractions to our hearing and vision.This means we should be able to concentrate on what we are trying to hear and see during our practice time.This is not always possible, but we should strive for an ideal practice space just as we should strive for perfection with what we are practicing.

Wouldn’t that make the world a much better place?



P.S. I didn’t forget the ‘Why’; that is for the individual to decide.Why do you want to play?

One thought on “The Practice Atmosphere”

  1. Hey!!! I know that sometimes i say i practiced everything, but that is what I thought I was supposed to do. Now that I read this email, I will not think that anymore. Thanks!!! See you on Thursday!!! 🙂 Kirstin

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