Practice doesn’t make Perfect


4/13/20241 min read

Practicing our instruments is often perceived as a straightforward concept—taking out our instrument and working on the areas that need improvement. However, the reality is far from simple. As our skills develop, we realise the importance of optimising our practice sessions for better results, ideally in less time. Despite this awareness, many of us still cling to the belief that more time spent practicing will inevitably lead to better outcomes. While techniques like time management and self-recording can be helpful at various stages of our musical journey, I was left wondering if there is a deeper concept that could revolutionise how we approach practice, making it more sustainable, productive, and conducive to maintaining a healthy mindset?

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with two atypical approaches to my practice routine, which have proven remarkably beneficial despite challenging my longstanding beliefs about practice:

  1. Imperfect practice is what makes us better: Contrary to the relentless pursuit of perfection, I’ve found that embracing imperfection allows me to be more present, open-minded, and creative in my practice. By releasing the pressure to always sound flawless, I free myself to explore new musical ideas and approaches without the fear of failure looming over me.

  2. “Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent”: The adage “practice makes perfect” no longer holds true when we consider the psychological research on high performance. Merely repeating passages mindlessly or incorrectly can lead to ingrained mistakes that hinder progress. Instead, I advocate for intentional practice, where every repetition is purposeful, focused, and aimed at addressing specific challenges.

These two fundamental concepts have transformed my practice experience, enabling me to approach each session with greater mindfulness and enjoyment. Rather than fixating on achieving perfection, I now embrace the journey of continual improvement, guided by intention and creativity.

Incorporating these principles into your own practice routine may require a shift in mindset, but the rewards are well worth it. By prioritising presence over perfection and intention over repetition, I believe you will unlock new levels of musicality, satisfaction, and fulfilment in your practice journey.