One way in which you can ensure you progress on your chosen instrument is to constantly challenge what you are doing. If you remain inquisitive you will avoid wasting time on the same exercises or on routines which do not improve your playing. Below is a series of questions you can ask yourself when practising. You need not ask them all – pick a few that seem relevant to you and write them in big letters somewhere so that you will be reminded of them.
These questions are merely a start to the type of things you can ask when practising. If you have any other suggestions please leave them in the comments section below so we can all benefit.
- Am I standing/sitting correctly when I play. Is my posture correct?
- Is there too much tension in my body? Notice where the tension is.
- Do I like the sound I’m making? Is it appropriate for this style of music?
- Do I know enough about the background/history of this music?
- Am I playing in tune? Is my intonation good?
- Can I sing the notes I am about to play?
- Are my hands in the correct position? Notice any tension in them.
- Do I know the notes well enough? Can I say all the names/fingerings as quickly as I need to play them.
- Is my rhythm really accurate or is it just an approximation?
- Am I playing the correct articulations and markings? Are they appropriate to this music?
- Do I understand the musical style needed for this piece?
- What is the REAL reason I made that mistake?
- Is this on my practice plan?
- How will this make me a better player?
- Am I concentrating well or am I watching the clock?
- What did I acheive this practice session.
- What exactly am I practising at this precise moment?
- Which bars of music am I trying to improve at this precise moment?
- What practice method am I using to improve at this precise moment?
- Am I enjoying myself?
Why not set some of these questions for your students? Get them to write down their answers as they practice and bring them to the next lesson. Thinking these questions through will help them down the path of being able to improve themselves.
Even if you are not musical by challenging your child with one or more of these questions you can help to focus their practice time more.