Practice- Why, When and What?

One of the most distasteful and laborious chores I endure each day is practice. Whether you play a trumpet, trombone or the kazoo, we are all faced with this task if we want to improve or even retain what abilities we have.

If you have ever been out for sports, you will remember those early morning routines on the track or the warm-ups you religiously participated in on the baseball field, football field or tennis court. When participating in sports, whether high school, recreation department teams or in a foursome on the golf course, you were motivated by the people around you. Your coach was there to make sure you were at the field on time. Your basketball team was there to join you in practice sessions. Your usual foursome was there to encourage you on your next putt. Through all of these practice sessions you were given support and that support made the practice session all that more easy to get through.

Now you are expected to practice on your own with your instrument in order to improve your art. Practicing an instrument is like shooting free throws with no one there to feed the ball back to you and that is the reason most of us have a hard time getting the instrument out of its case every day. Friendly encouragements on the field will make your work a little easier than if you were alone. Seeing your friends working hard during a practice session helped you go that extra mile. This is not the case in a practice room when you are alone. Whether you are a student in high school, college or a musician playing regularly in shows, the motivation needed to spend countless hours practicing your instrument is not easy. It isn’t easy for me either, but it is one of the unchanging facts in life- “If you don’t practice, you don’t get better”.

In this series, I will try to address several issues related to regular practice and it is my wish that some of this information will help you in your efforts to practice and improve on your instrument.

My next post will address the issue of “Why do we need to practice”. The next will cover a seldom motioned topic, “When is the best time to practice”, and the last will deal with “What you should cover during your practice session”.

Bruce was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.