Practice Tip of the Week:
Notice What You Do Well

Do you recognize your accomplishments and feel good
about them? Many musicians are guilty of focusing
only on the problems in their playing.

It’s important to know what aspects of your playing
need improvement. All musicians—beginners and virtuosos
alike—want to be better in the future than they are today.

But, make sure you notice the progress you have made.

Let yourself know that you’re working hard, that you’re
getting better, and that you’re glad you’re going through
the process of learning new music and more advanced techniques.

Don’t become one of those musicians who plays an amazing
concert but leaves the stage down on themselves. Thousands
of notes played perfectly, yet they focus all their thoughts
and energies on the three notes they missed.

That is not healthy.

A balanced approach is better. Congratulate yourself
for what’s going well and acknowledge what needs fixing.
Remember that music, like life itself, always has room
for improvement—but needs to be enjoyed today.

Here are three practice room techniques for achieving
this balance:

1. When you’re first learning something and are able to
play it very slowly, don’t immediately get frustrated
and say, “I can’t play this up to speed.” Of course
you can’t! You just learned it! Praise yourself for
learning all those notes.

2. When you record yourself, listen back and notice what
you’re doing right as well as what needs more work. List
five things that went well before you focus on what can
be better. This balance will silence your inner critic
and make you more objective.

3. Use positive, direct language with yourself as you plan
how to improve a specific area of the music you’re learning.
It’s better to say, “I need to make sure those E flats are
in tune” instead of “Oh, my intonation is terrible.”

Musicians aim for perfection. But, they need to realize
that being perfect is not humanly possible.

Since there will always be room for improvement in your
playing, be sure to notice everything you’re already doing
well. This will make your pursuit of perfection a happier

To Your Musical Success!