Playing an instrument is a cumulative learning process like learning to play a sport or learning to read. Practicing enables students to work on their songs, reinforce concepts learned in previous lessons as well as build up their stamina playing and holding their instrument. The amount of time a student practices is irrelevant, rather it is what is accomplished during that time that is important.
Here are a number of practicing tips that students should take into account when practicing a piece of music:
Practice with Purpose
Have one or more focused goals each time you practice. At the beginning of practice sessions, ask yourself, "What do I want to accomplish today? Do I want to polish a piece? Slowly learn part of a new piece, or fix some problem spots?" As you practice, your focus may change as you continue to analyse your playing with questions such as: "Am I playing in tune? Is the rhythm correct? What parts of the piece need work?"
One of the most effective ways to make a piece sound better is to pinpoint the difficult passages in the piece and then work on one small section at a time. Don’t reinforce mistakes by repeating them. Identify what the problem is, then determine how you will fix it. Play the notes of a problem spot very slowly, one note at a time, until you are playing with the proper rhythm, fingering, and notes. Once it sounds correct, play that small section over and over, gradually picking up speed until that segment of music is up to speed. It's always simpler to begin at a slow speed and increase your speed rather than go back and correct new errors.
At the end of each practice session, it's always fun to sit back, relax, and enjoy playing straight through the piece. The progress made during "problem spot" practicing can be reinforced, and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment hearing changes you’ve made in the full context of the piece.