This could definitely be the most inappropriate topic to discuss at this time of the year. In fact, while everyone is enjoying their holiday in some tropical destination I’d like to to share some thoughts about practicing, improving and mastering skills.
After practicing my instrument for more than 15 years, I got very frustrated about the little results I was getting. I wanted to find a “smarter” way of practicing that could help improve my playing . After reading lots of articles and watching many videos on YouTube on the subject, I finally came across one of the most fascinating books about performance and expertise, that I would recommend to anyone who wants to improve any skill. No matter if you are a musician or not.
Ericsson is known to be the Godfather of what we call today DELIBERATE PRACTICE and spent most of his life studying and writing books on the matter.
From start to finish I was completely blown away by the way Ericsson breaks down some of the most important, yet underrated points about improving a skill. Here are some of the points I’d like to share with you:
DEFINE YOUR GOALS
Before you even sit down and practice try to ask yourself what is it that you’d like to have learned at the end of your practice session. Make sure you write down your goals and know exactly where you’re going. Having well defined goals is absolutely crucial.
Why Professionals can do things that Beginners can’t do?
Because the Pros have been repeatedly doing the same thing over and over again, creating a mental visualisation of what is about to happen. Practicing is key to create those mental structures that allow us to go past what is really hard to do at first, making these actions something ordinary.
ASK FOR HELP
There are many people that with their expertise can help us making the right choices. Make sure that you ask someone, like a teacher, a coach or a mentor, if the way you are practicing is right and if not what changes you should make to keep improving.
Keep challenging yourself and build around your potential, without stopping once you reach your goal. For example, once you can play something technically difficult, don’t stop there! Try to figure out a way to use it in a musical situation. Getting out of your comfort zone is vital to your improvement.
“The best way for a student to get out of difficulty is to go through it” – Aristotle
‘till next time