One tendency that dogs down the pace of learning for musicians is that of allowing vagaries to cloud one’s mind and therefore hamper the ability to be objective about musical materials and how to assimilate them.

 

If you have all sorts of vague ideas about how to learn music you will crowd out down to earth, objective thinking. When you actually get to the gig you can work to pour on the creative and artistic mindset that great artists have. But in the practice room a musician needs to have a one-track mind to learn all of the materials needed to play a live performance. 

 

This is why it’s important for developing musicians to get smart about the learning process. If you go into the practice room with too much subjectivity about what you need to practice and how you will go about doing it, you will come out of it with less workable material for your gigs.

 

The claim that I would like to make about the course work for all of my students is that they will always come away from the lesson with a solid idea of what the material is that they are working on, how that material fits into the larger musical picture, and how it is they are going to be working on that material.

 

The final piece of the puzzle is how to evaluate oneself – how effectively are you practicing? For that you must have an experienced teacher and/or gig situations with like-minded players. Playing live music is the trial-by-fire that helps all musicians develop the judgement about how well they have the material down. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to have a multi-channel recording setup and a Grammy-winning recording engineer sitting at the console getting it all on disk for later listening, but let’s be reasonable!

 

Seriously, though, a great goal to strive for is to save party-time for somewhere else outside the practice space and always work to make the learning process more objective.

 

Let’s get to it!