Month: November 2013

The Concept of TOTAL PRACTICE in Music

If you spend 20 hours a day just playing your musical instrument and going through all kinds of techniques, there can only be one of two of the outcomes: 1) you still end up in Square 1 in your playing because you essentially practise without a direction, or 2) you become a giant on the instrument but not a very musical one. To me, I believe in the concept of TOTAL PRACTICE: 

1) Spend a FEW hours each day actually playing your chosen musical instrument keep your technique in shape. For drummers, even on days off, at least workout on a practice pad. I have seen for myself how my technique could degenerate with one day of NO practice at all. Also, ALWAYS strive to find better ways of playing the instrument – your physical health and playing longevity is at stake. Even if you only have an hour or just 20 minutes to practise, FOCUS IMMENSELY. You can get alot out of that short practice session than 8 hours of non-directional practice.

2) Listen to lots of music – this is what directs your practice and your musical applications. Analyse. Discuss it if you are with another musician (better if that musician does not play the same instrument as you). Make either written or mental notes.

3) Research through videos and live gigs: Self explanatory. Again it gives you direction and focus in the practice room. Even this is a big part of your practice routine IF you are reflecting on what you see and hear and thinking about how you can incorporate those into your playing, or you may choose not to go with any of those ideas (you want to develop your own style). Ultimately, it is about absorbing the information provided by these stimuli with an OPEN AND AWAKE MIND.

4) If possible, take lessons in other music-related art forms such as another musical instrument(S) to have added dimensions to your understanding of making music OR even dance lessons to understand how body reacts to rhythm. I have not done the latter before but I tinker away on the piano when I can get access to one to gain a better understanding of other aspects of Music besides rhythnm: melody and harmony.

It is redundant to show a video of a young, and obviously good, drummer blazing away on the drumkit for example and tell other drummers that you need to have both talent and a solid practice routine. When you want to teach or preach something explain WHY and HOW as thoroughly as you can. The above three steps have guided my own daily practice routine and I am always learning something new, acquiring new chops, or finding better ways to do something I am already good at. 

Only experience with lots of trial and error can show you the above. It never stops..