It’s hard to make time to practice music when you are working full-time as a teacher and freelance musician. Elizabeth Efroymson-Brooks, Director of Cello and Director of Suzuki Steps Early Childhood Program at the Indianapolis Suzuki Academy, shares her wisdom on practicing with her fellow teachers. Read below to see how Liz makes time to practice and what she does to improve her playing.
Words on Practicing
By Liz Efroymson-Brooks
Do teachers “practice” what they preach? (pun intended)
How often do we make practicing a priority in our lives? We can rightly protest that we have such busy lives and there literally is just no time – unless we have to panic practice music for a performance.
Do we practice our scales? Do we practice etudes? Do we review our old pieces in order to gain mastery? The reasons why we need to practice are the same as the reasons our students have to practice – to improve and to grow as musicians.
Liz’s tips for practicing:
Practice every day if possible and make practicing a priority. If you have to choose between cleaning house and practicing – practice. The gym and practice – practice (it uses calories according to my Fitbit). If you have to choose between watching your favorite show and practicing – you know what to do!
You may skip practicing if:
- You had a five hour rehearsal that day (not good for the hands)
- You are pretty sick (wouldn’t practice that well anyway)
- Your pets or your children are sick and need you
- You have no groceries and your relatives are coming to visit
- You get the idea
About four years ago I started a routine of trying to practice 2 hours a day (broken into two, 1 hour sessions).
Here is what I do:
- I start with a scale (which I play with a tuner because I want to work on my intonation).
- I play a Popper Etude or some other advanced Etude.
- At this time I may work on an orchestral passage or an upcoming gig’s music.
- Practice my current piece. I am trying to do advanced repertoire right now.
- Practice a review piece (this gets left to the last and I don’t always get there).
Do I practice every single day? No… In fact I didn’t practice today, but I did play 1.5 hours with my adult cello group and that involved a lot of sight reading. I manage about 5 out of 7 days to practice at least an hour every day – and my playing has greatly improved.
I am just asking all you teachers to ask yourself the question we all ask our students: “Did you make time to practice your instrument?” Something to think about…
To learn more about the Indianapolis Suzuki Academy, please visit their website here.
Larry Miller says
Wonderful advice to be applied to any field of human endeavor.
Dan Henkel says
Liz offers some good advice about how a busy professional can carve out time for the practice that will keep repertoire on track. She’s a skilled multi-tasker!