The Practice Notebook

flutist Zara Lawler shares tips on learning music



The Practice Notebook is a weekly blog dedicated to teaching the techniques and principles of good music practice.  It is designed for professional musicians looking to improve their practice (to make the most of limited practice time, by making your practice as efficient as possible), for conservatory students looking to develop good habits that will serve them throughout their careers, and also for beginners, their parents* and amateurs looking for ways to think about and develop their practice.

This blog is based on the idea that good practice technique is essential for good musicianship, and that practicing can even be fun.  No one wants to be a professional practicer, but the fact is that if you add up all the hours spent practicing and compare that to the hours spent performing, the vast majority of musicians will find that most of their work is spent in the practice room, not on the concert stage.  This blog will help you to make the most of that time, so that your time on the concert stage will be as confident and fun as possible.

*Note to beginners:  all of the principles discussed, and most of the techniques, can be applied to your work without adaptation.  When necessary, however, I will make note of changes and variations to make the techniques better apply to you.

This blog will include:

  • Principles (the basic ideas of good practice)
  • Techniques (actual methods for efficient and effective use of practice time)
  • Rules (guidelines to set for yourself to ensure you get the most out of your practice time)
  • Pep Talks (everyone needs them from time to time)
  • Guest Columnists (to contribute different perspectives, or techniques that are new to me too)
  • Inspiration Gallery (quotes and links to keep us all inspired)

It is designed to be fun to read, and I hope the techniques and principles will be fun to apply.  And if not fun exactly, I hope you will get a lot out of them: making your practice more efficient, thus leaving you more time to go have fun doing something else.

You can jump in anytime, and get something out of the blog.  If you have time, though, I would recommend you make a point of checking out the first four articles (The Practice Notebook Parts 1 & 2, Metronome Trick No. 1, and The 10-Minute Rule).

I am a flutist, so there will be, of course, some areas of specific interest to flutists, but most of the principles, techniques, rules and pep talks can be applied to the practice of any instrument, and indeed to many creative endeavors that require the kind of steady, focused work that is the hallmark of good music practice.

RSVP:  please respond!  Let me know if these ideas work for you, or if they don’t, or if you want more information, or less.  Ask questions and give answers.

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