As a young trumpet player I was an extremely impatient learner. One of the many skills I didn’t get shown, work on, or seek out was correcting my poor rhythm and timing. Early on, I didn’t have an instructor sit down with me and say, “this is a quarter note, eighth note, etc. and this is how they work!” It is my belief that because I developed a skill early on to play back what I “heard,” teachers often assumed that I could read the rhythms. Needless to say, this has plagued most of my musical career.
As an adult in my 40s I am playing professionally and teaching younger students as well. I am one that realizes what went wrong with my early days and try to avoid those same problems with my students. But one of the aspects of improvement escaped me (at least consciously) for a very long time… practicing – how to expedite learning and what makes us a better learner.
The times that I have practiced and felt mentally worn out afterward seemed to inspire the most growth and change in my playing. The biggest problem is, those times weren’t as frequent as when I’ve physically worn myself out from just mindless blowing and senseless playing.
To fully take advantage of your practice time as a student, you have to allow your mind to become fully immersed in your practice session. Allow yourself to block out all other distractions… hunger, anger, tiredness, emotions, other activities, etc. and just completely get lost in your studies… if only for a few minutes. You’ll find that this will enhance your learning skills and help your playing grow to a new level. The more you practice in this manner, the more you’ll create that habit… and the stronger you become!
Stay tuned for future ideas…