The most common phrase I hear in lessons is "but I practiced this." I always follow this statement up with a request: "Ok, tell me how you practiced it." Nine times out of ten, the student tells me that he played through it a bunch of times, beginning to end, bulldozing over the mistakes, but he doesn't say bulldoze. He then says, "I thought it would be better next time."
Why? Why and how would it be better next time? The act of playing through music is not practicing. Practicing is a skill, just like reading music is a skill, or holding the bow is a skill. Practice makes permanent. The times I've learned something incorrectly and not practiced intelligently, I've paid for it dearly. Fixing a learned mistake is harder to correct than learning something correctly the first time. We are going to make mistakes! We will learn things incorrectly, we are human. However, we can be intelligent in how we practice in order to cut down on our inevitable humanly mistakes.
Over the next few blog entries, I will share with you how to practice in a more meaningful way.