With recital season just a few weeks away, it is more important than ever to know how to deal with frustration you may feel while practicing! Here are Miss Nadine’s Top 5 Tips:
1. Walk Away & Take a Break: If I have been struggling with a piece and find myself feeling frustration, it can be helpful to walk away for a bit. While I encourage my students to push through learning a difficult piece, it might be nice to take a break and get a fresh perspective!
2. Break the Song Into Small Pieces: Most students want to play straight through a song; however, this can be one of the worst ways to practice. My recommendation is always to play through the song once and pick out the problem spots, then isolate each of the problem spots until you can successfully play them three times in a row. Afterwards, put your whole song back together. Not only is this method of practicing effective, it is a much better use of your time!
3. Write Down Questions: I often find myself reminding my students that if they could play through their music perfectly they wouldn’t need me. My job is to help them as they learn! I encourage them to write down on their music or in their notebook the spots they just can’t figure out. When they come into their next lesson, I know exactly where to start. This eliminates some of the frustration at home and provides wonderful communication!
4. Color Code Your Music: Color coding is not just for school! Sheet music is black and white which can sometimes be visually confusing. Adding pops of color to your music draws your eye to a problem spot and reminds the brain to focus more. I always use the same color coding system; for example, when I see orange in my music I know to focus on articulation. These little tricks are extremely helpful! Come up with a color coding system that works for you with your teacher!
5. Practice Regularly in Small Increments: When a piece is overwhelmingly challenging I find it easier to practice in several 10 – 15 minute increments per day rather than one long practice session. These breaks allow me to walk away when I start to get frustrated but really reinforces the music by playing it throughout the day in the different mindsets that I may have from morning to night. Sometimes I practice better in the morning and sometimes I practice better at night. Small increment practicing has provided a great balance in my life overall, and students can benefit the same way!