Quality, consistency, quantity

This in my opinion, is the golden rule of practicing: Quality comes first, then consistency, then quantity.

Here’s the formula in highly impressive algebraic terms: q+c+q=ma (musical awesomeness).

I’m sure you’ll agree that overall practice time is often championed as the only thing that really matters when it comes to achieving success as a musician. Nobody would actually say this out-rightly of course, but don’t we unwittingly tell ourselves this all the time? When was the last time that you reprimanded yourself for not practicing enough?

And, overall practice time is important. If you want to succeed, you need to practice. It’s necessary for success.

It’s just that before you start thinking about time, you need to address two other crucial factors that contribute to success in the practice room: Quality and consistency.

Before you think about overall practice time, make sure that your practice commitment is sustainable over a long period of time. It’s better to practice for less time on a daily basis if it means that you can stay consistent on a weekly and/or monthly basis.

And, there’s not much point in being consistent if you’re consistently practicing ineffective material or in an ineffective way. As mentioned in my book, Rethink the Woodshed: New Rules of Practice, Canadian trombonist Al Kay said that the secret to his success was not that he practiced for long hours every day, but that he was able to accomplish in one hour of practice what many of his peers would take eight hours to achieve. Simply put, the quality of his practice routine was tip-top.

So, once you’ve addressed the quality of your practice routine, and then figured out how to ensure its consistency, then feel free to up the quantity of your practice time.

If you get all three of these things in place and in the right order of priority, you’ll be dangerous indeed!

Warm regards,

Pat

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