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July 2009

Practicing Your Musical Instrument for Success

by Emily Gojko

Everyone knows that it is essential to practice playing your instrument in order to become a better musician. With enough practicing, certain habits and methods are committed to memory, so that they seem like second nature, and make practicing your instrument more enjoyable. The following tips will assist you in mastering your instrument:

1. Daily practice is imperative. In order to implement daily practice into your life, schedule it like you would anything else. Set aside a specific time each day to practice, and try not to skip practice time, or it may become habitual.

2. Practicing your instrument is like exercise - do not procrastinate! Once you get out your instrument, and start, you'll get into the groove.

3. Set up a plan for each practice - What music will you be playing? Is there anything specific that you need to improve upon? Set goals for yourself for each practice session, and rather than looking at the clock, try to reach that goal.

4. It is important to learn from and share with others. Sometimes your own point of view is not necessarily the best point of view. Let your friends listen to you play, and provide input on where they think you might be able to improve. Perhaps they feel you need more adagio in one area or more allegro in another. Listen to their comments, and incorporate them into your next practice.

5. It may seem like common sense, but if you wear glasses, make sure you are wearing them. There is a big difference between a B flat and an A flat, for example. Make sure that you are able to accurately read the sheet music. Also, make sure that when you practice, you will not be disturbed. In other words, don't practice when you are supposed to be babysitting your little brother!

6. We all practice to get better, to achieve mastery of our instrument, so go and see the masters play. Go to your local orchestral performances. Get inspired by them!

7. Do not take the easy way out, practicing only the music and skills that you already excel at. What good does that do? Choose new and challenging pieces each time you have mastered another. It will make practicing seem less mundane, and will only improve your abilities, but do not get frustrated with yourself! We are our worst critics, and we must remember that. It takes time and effort to accomplish anything worthwhile, including a new, challenging piece of music.

8. Workshops and extracurricular classes are often offered through schools or summer camps. Attend as many of these as you can. It will make playing more fun, as you will be surrounded by other musicians, and you will learn other great tips and habits from some of the world's top performers.

Article written by Emily Gojko, Public Relations Associate, for the Strings International Music Festival. Strings International Music Festival is a music summer camp through which strings and piano players of all ages are offered an opportunity to study with members of The Philadelphia Orchestra, including principal players. For additional information, please visit us at