Practice Strategies

Practice Strategies



There are many strategies that you can use while practicing.  They work differently in different situations and for different people.  Try some of these thirteen strategies in your next practice session.  


Elemental isolation

It helps to break down a section into different musical elements: clap only the rhythm, play only the pitches, and/or practice just the articulations and dynamics.


Keep your brain in front of your fingers by slowing the music to a tempo you can correctly play.  Slowly ramp up the speed until you reach performance tempo and always use a metronome! 

Slow it down


Interval training

Take one section of a piece and practice it using different time intervals of work and rest.


Circuit training

Choose 2-5 different sections either in the same piece or in different pieces of music.  Switch from section to section using a set amount of time.


Error targeting and transitioning

Find the problem spot and focus your energy on making it sound as good as the rest of the piece.  Practice transitioning into and out of the problem spot by starting a measure or two before the error and going a measure or two after.  


Take a break

When you find yourself making the same mistakes over and over, taking short breaks allows you to reset your brain. 


plow through

It doesn’t matter where you are in learning a piece, it is always a good idea to try to get through the whole thing mistakes and all.  


Mental practice

You can imagine your sound, the sound of the group, the fingerings for each note, the rhythms, and the tools of expression all in your head. This especially helps with memorization.


One measure at a time

If a song is difficult, practicing it can feel overwhelming. Take a deep breath, count to four, and take it one measure at a time.



Learn your piece section by section.  You can seperate them by logical musical phrases, label them, and sort them by difficulty.  Once sorted, it is easy to see what to practice first!


Start at the end

Logically people learn a piece from the beginning and work linearly throughout the work.  Shake it up a bit and start at the end.  



If your piece is supposed to be played at 120 BPM, try nailing it at 150! Being able to play your piece at a higher level of difficulty allows you to feel prepared to perform it.


Whole part whole

Alternate playing the whole piece and playing part of the piece.  Practicing this way allows you to see how each part functions in the whole.