Essential Practice Tips for Beginners Part 3: Play Along
Successful practicing has as much to with your mindset as your efforts, so it is important to understand how to approach your practice time, both mentally and physically. In my next few blogs, I will be offering some suggestions and wisdom from my own experiences as a player and instructor to help you practice smarter and be a better player as a result.
You should play along with your teacher. This is an important advantage our students enjoy at thegospelworkshop.com. Being able to play along with your teacher whenever and as often as you wish is a tremendous benefit which cannot be over-emphasized! As I’ve talked with fellow-teachers over the years, the one common fact upon which we all agree, is that every week teachers have to re-teach half of the previous week’s lesson and sometimes the entire lesson. There are two reasons for this. One is lack of practice which is totally the student’s responsibility (If the student is young, the parents share in this responsibility), but the second reason is much more difficult to deal with for both student and teacher. The second issue is that the student’s progress is not necessarily hindered by a lack of practice, but because students don’t have the opportunity to play what they’ve already learned “along with” someone else–especially someone like their instructor who can play the music properly. Consider these facts:
1. Without the teacher being present, you don’t get to hear how the song is supposed to sound or see how the techniques are done. You are of course able to hear and see whatever you are learning at the one-time-a-week lesson, but you don’t get to take the teacher home with you. Because you cannot continuously refresh your memory, you tend to forget important details about how to play the piece correctly.
2. Playing along with your teacher helps speed up results and helps you truly master each step. Getting repetition into your practice is critical to your improvement and, while there is certainly a time for practicing totally by yourself, having the chance to play with another person helps you practice better. Playing along with your teacher helps to build confidence because you always know that the music you’re playing along with is, in fact, being played correctly. It helps your playing by having that learning reference to which you can repeatedly come back. It also helps you by exposing your flaws and showing you where you need to improve. You simply are able to compare your notes and sounds to what the instructor is playing. Playing with the right feel, good timing, using the right fingers and positions, etc., are all things that you can pick up by playing along with your teacher.