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  • Writer's pictureLake Stiles

How Practicing Music Forms Good Habits


One of the often overlooked benefits of playing an instrument is learning how to practice. It's an element of musicianship that I find to be frequently misunderstood or unnecessarily feared. The phrase “practice makes perfect” comes to mind, or as my middle school band instructor liked to say “practice makes better.” Well– as a middle schooler I didn’t like that very much, and even now I think both tend to miss the point entirely. Learning to practice is about learning consistency, patience, and to trust the process, rather than a means to an end. Of course, if you get good at the process, the results will start trickling in. Soon enough things you never thought you could play will flow from your fingertips with ease, but that certainly isn’t a sign that you should stop. I believe that understanding how to practice consistently is a skill that can enrich many aspects of one’s life.


Communication:

Practicing music has helped me to become a better communicator throughout the years. There are many parallels between a good spoken conversation and one that occurs musically. Very early on in my journey as a musician I was introduced to “call and response.” This is one of the most basic yet undeniably conversational aspects of learning to play. It taught me to listen, and later on to express my own voice through even the simplest melody. Even playing solo is a form of conversation with an audience. Through learning how to communicate musically I learned how to be considerate and confident in my conversations, both spoken and unspoken. 


Problem Solving:

Another benefit to practice is the ability to quickly solve problems on the fly. When I am working out a piece for the first time, I find myself constantly making adjustments to improve my technique or sound. I believe that in music it’s more important to find the path than the goal itself. If there isn’t a clear path, where can I find one? Can I build one? If something doesn't go as planned during a performance, how can I get back on track? When I problem solve in other areas of my life I find myself following remarkably similar patterns, and I can’t deny music’s significance in developing this skill. 


Patience and Gratitude:

It’s easy to get frustrated when practicing something difficult for the first time. I tend to take comfort in the consistency of good practice. To trust the process is to understand that things take time, and results are rarely instantaneous. Through practicing music I have learned the importance of patience and persistence when working towards a goal. Sometimes it’s hard to measure or take note of progress on a day to day basis, however over time the results become clear. I see it in my student’s efforts all the time, even if it is less apparent in their eyes. So I have learned to be grateful for the opportunity to practice, as I am confident that the skills I have learned along the way are just as valuable as achieving a musical goal. 


Happy Practicing!


With joy,

Lake Stiles (Guitar Teacher) and the StringTime Family

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