Figuring out what to practice – make a list.

A very common question that musicians are confronted with from time to time is “What do I practice?” of “What should I be practicing?”.  Although you may get some direction from teachers, mentors, or colleagues, most of the work you do while practicing is self-dictated. This means that appraising where you are is a necessity.

The method I use for appraising my playing is one I picked up in a private lesson with Jeff Coffin. (Jeff plays saxophone with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and with Dave Matthews Band.) You will be making a list with two columns – “Things I do well.” and “Things I suck at want to improve.” What you put on your list can be as vague (technique), or as specific (RH ring finger isn’t curved enough), as you like. You might also have things that are related on opposite sides of the list. A very important thing to do when you put together your list is to make sure you have an equal number of items on each side. It can’t all be bad, but it’s probably not all good either.

After you’ve compiled your list, you will get an idea of what you want to practice. You want to get all of the things from the “Things I want to improve” side over to the “Things I do well” side.

I’ve included my current list below to give you an idea of where I am right now.