“Wherever you hope to travel on your musical journey,
practice is the only route to getting there.”

The Musician’s Way, p. 3

Although deep practice is essential to musical excellence, in my experience, only a minority of rising musicians practice optimally.

Fortunately, though, practice skills can be learned, but musicians first need benchmarks against which to gauge their habits.

How’s Your Practice?
The following assessment tool, excerpted from The Musician’s Way contains 32 true/false statements designed to help you size up your practice habits (a free pdf version is available for download from MusiciansWay.com).

It’s meant for any musician who pursues inclusive musical ability.

Bear in mind that it assesses the quality of your deliberate practice – it doesn’t pertain to casual music making, which we all enjoy but which is distinct from the goal-oriented work we do in the practice room.

To use the assessment, you might print it out, read each statement, and then circle your response.

Any statement that you can’t respond to in the affirmative points to an area that could benefit from your attention.

If you conclude that your practice habits need an upgrade, see Chapters 1-5 of The Musician’s Way for guidance.

Assessing Your Practice Habits
by Gerald Klickstein

  1.   My practice is deeply meaningful to me; I seldom feel bored.

T  or  F

  2.   I keep to a regular practice schedule.

T  or  F

  3.   My practice space is fully equipped with the things I need.

T  or  F

  4.   I set detailed goals before beginning to practice.

T  or  F

  5.   I typically feel a sense of accomplishment after practicing.

T  or  F

  6.   I’m able to maintain mental focus as I practice.

T  or  F

  7.   I commonly record portions of my practice, and then I appraise my recordings.

T  or  F

  8.   I assess my practice objectively and rarely become upset by difficulties.

T  or  F

  9.   I use a metronome in practice.

T  or  F

  10. I consistently warm up before practicing.

T  or  F

  11. I intersperse practice sessions with regular breaks.

T  or  F

  12. I can learn accessible music securely and efficiently.

T  or  F

  13. I have plenty of accessible pieces in my repertoire.

T  or  F

  14. At the outset of learning a piece, I develop a basic interpretation before making technical decisions.

T  or  F

  15. I’m able to shape dramatic musical interpretations that move listeners.

T  or  F

  16. When learning a new piece, I expressively vocalize rhythm.

T  or  F

  17. I use specific strategies to solve musical and technical problems.

T  or  F

  18. I manage repetition so that I neither repeat errors nor drill passages to the point of fatigue.

T  or  F

  19. I use mental imaging to aid my learning and memorizing of music.

T  or  F

  20. I consciously image ahead as I play or sing.

T  or  F

  21. I’m satisfied with the tactics that I use to increase the tempos of pieces.

T  or  F

  22. I’m confident of my ability to memorize music and to perform from memory.

T  or  F

  23. I have a broad-based plan to polish my technique, and I practice technique daily.

T  or  F

  24. I routinely practice sight-reading.

T  or  F

  25. I can improvise melodies over straightforward chord progressions.

T  or  F

  26. I review my favorite pieces in detail so that the expressive and technical components stay vibrant.

T  or  F

  27. I listen to a range of recorded music, and I regularly attend live music performances.

T  or  F

  28. I’m advancing my knowledge of music theory, ear training, and other general music topics.

T  or F

  29. I take deliberate steps to fuel my motivation to practice and to counter procrastination.

T  or  F

  30. When I make errors in practice, I view them as instructive and not as indicative of failure.

T  or  F

  31. I understand how to practice such that I can perform confidently and artistically.

T  or  F

  32. As I practice, I embody habits of excellence: ease, expressiveness, accuracy, rhythmic vitality, beautiful tone, focused attention, and positive attitude.

T  or  F

Preview The Musician’s Way at Amazon.com. Related posts can be found under the Music Practice category.

© 2012 Gerald Klickstein | Table © 2009 Gerald Klickstein
Excerpted from The Musician’s Wayby permission of Oxford University Press
Photo © licensed from Shutterstock.com

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