Practice. The cornerstone of life as a musician, it is the one thing that can get us from our bedroom to the concert stage. It is the time and work that equips us with everything we need to play our instrument as well as we dream of.

However, while we may attend weekly music lessons with a wonderful teacher, practice is something often left to the imagination, something we must figure out on our own.

So what should we be working on daily?

Physique

Whether we have just begun playing an instrument or we have been playing for what feels like forever, every practice session should start with a body warm up.

It is natural that your muscles need time to warm up in order to avoid injury while playing, but it is something that is overlooked surprisingly frequently.

Try these exercises at the beginning of your practice sessions to get your body warmed up before working out!

Technique

Whether you live by technical exercise books or creating miniature studies from the pieces you are playing, technique is a fundamental part of practice.

One of the only measurable aspects of our practice, it is also good for your mental health to be able to observe the physical improvements you are making through steady work.

Remember that practicing technique is part of playing the long game, a long term dedication to improving your ability. Chipping away a little a day is part of owning your practice and using it as meditation.

Knowledge

Knowing your instrument seems like it should be a given, right? Amazingly many guitarists who play on the concert stage do not know all of their fretboard, especially the notes above the 12th fret!

Every day and every practice session is a chance to acclimatize to our instruments, the more we know about what is in our hands, the more we can use to our advantage.

Fun

In our efforts to be the most efficient workers that we can be, we should not forget that playing an instrument should have an element of fun, purely because life as a musician requires so much dedication, how can we expect to work our whole lives at something we do not enjoy?

Find the things that you enjoy about your instrument, and hone that. Every day! Practice has to make us smile occasionally, work hard, play hard!


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Dave McLellan

Concert & Chamber Guitarist

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