Taking risks and trying new things is the number one way to grow.  Do you remember learning to ride a bike for the first time or what about when you first learned to swim?  You had to challenge yourself and try something new even though you might have been unsure of the outcome and now you are probably comfortable riding a bike and swimming.

Challenging yourself by trying new things during practice may seem awkward at first but it is the best thing you can do to help you perform at your peak. 


  1. Use a metronome during practice.  Not only does it help you develop your groove but it demands perfection in playing.  It improves your ability to play in time, which is critical if you are playing with a band.  Another reason to practice with a metronome is that you can slow your practice down to learn how to play a difficult song accurately and then practice speeding things up when you have accomplished learning the notes.  If you don’t have a metronome, tap your foot to the beat while practicing.
  2. Practice without looking at your hands.  While proper physical technique is essential, learning to play without looking at your hands is paramount.  Have you ever seen a professional musician perform on stage while watching their hands?  Of course you haven’t.  If you are afraid you will look at your hands while practicing, either close your eyes or blindfold yourself.  Practice by feel instead of sight.  If Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles can do it, you can too!
  3. Concentrate on minimal movement technique-avoid lifting fingers and keeping them close to keys or strings at all times.  Sometimes beginners or people without proper technique training only concentrate on hitting the desired notes while practicing.  Often their fingers inadvertently travel much farther than necessary by lifting high off their instrument.  This causes two improper technique problems.  First of all, the fingers or hands have to travel farther than they have to and that takes them longer to get there.  Also, accuracy is compromised as the fingers have to fall into place from a farther distance.  So, if you practice minimal movement, your fingers stay close to the strings of keys, they remain much closer to the action.  This can take a lot practice and concentration to achieve because of the tendency to lift the fingers out of the way (so to speak).
  4. Don’t read the lyrics. For quicker memorization, practice without reading the lyrics.  If you’re a vocalist pre-read the lyrics, and then sing it without reading them.  Too many singers read the lyrics and wind up depending on that "crutch".  Same thing if you’re a musician, review the song score, and then go as far as you can without the song score.  Try to do what you can to eliminate these bad habits.
  5. Adjust the controls.  Try adjusting controls like volume and/or tone while staying in rhythm.  This is one thing when performing you will end-up having to do while on stage.
  6. Don’t be shy.  Practice with an audience when possible.  Practicing with an audience is better than practicing without one.  When practicing in front of others you are more likely to hold yourself accountable for playing at your best and you might also get some valuable feedback from audience members.  (Your practice audience can even be your friends and family.)
  7. Posture.  First of all, correct posture can significantly improve your playing.  For example, if you are playing the guitar and you’re posture is correct, it is easier to switch from one chord to the next.  Also, appearance is an important part and can have a lot to do with your success in playing.  When you stand or sit up straight, you will look like you know what you are doing, and your performance will exude confidence.  Practice with different stances or sitting positions.  Each time you perform, the circumstances could be different.  You will never know if you have to stand or sit in various positions.  Learning to play well no matter how you have to stand or sit will leave you looking like a pro.
  8. Sound Presets. Experiment with different sound presets on the same practice piece.  Basically, if you’ve always played a piano song with a piano sound you become comfortable with that sound for that song.  However if you experiment with a totally different sound like an organ, and play the same thing, your ear hears a different outcome with the same motions.
  9. Watch yourself in a mirror or video yourself and view such things as (posture, technique and style) and compare to various professionals.  It takes a lot of guts to watch yourself practicing but it can be a valuable tool because all of your habits are captured, both good and bad.
  10. Stand on one foot and practice.  I am not joking here. Standing on one foot makes you split your concentration between playing your instrument and keeping your balance.  This makes playing your instrument harder.  Heck, if you can hop on one foot and practice, even better but let’s not get crazy!!!