Music Practice Tip #1: Never Practice Mistakes

by Calebovich 29 Aug, 2013 8 comments

Never practice mistakes

You may say to yourself, “Why would I do that?” However, I have found that most people tend to look over their mistakes or simply do not recognize them. Whenever we repeat the wrong notes or musical ideas incorrectly, our brain remembers it even if we recognize it as a mistake. Much care (and caution) must go into ensuring that we are problem solvers when it comes to playing our instrument.

The key:

When you first get a new piece of music, etude, or exercise make sure that you spend time planning fingers, breathing, bowings, etc. so that you can minimize making corrections later. This will help your mind to be more settled with the music in the long run. Also, spend time away from your instrument with the score and imagine your phrasing/musical ideas; if you are an improvising musician—imagine/sing your solos. Often times we limit our musical creativity to our capability and proficiency on our instrument. Spending time without our primary instrument allows the imagination to be free and some of the most creative ideas flow from here.

Honestly, sometimes I give into the temptation to practice mistakes when I am rushed for time to learn a lot of music. When I am in this situation, I like to do more mental practice than anything. Practicing away from the cello and maybe sitting at a piano playing through phrases and literally practicing the cello in my head has proven to be most useful. Furthermore, I have found that my mind does not remember mistakes when I practice mentally. This way I feel more grounded on the day of the concert.

Patience is the key….

Feel free to comment or ask questions!

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8 Responses to “Music Practice Tip #1: Never Practice Mistakes”

  1. Bravo!!!!! I need take your advice. Could I get some feed back from you via youtube???

    • Calebovich says:

      Haha Zach, you know that I was thinking of incorporating video examples into the discussion because certain aspects of practicing are best shown, not written. I’m still thinking about it…

      Moreover, I am finding more and more that aspiring musicians really need guidance with practice. Think about when we were teenagers, there were so few professionals offering advice about music.

      • I completely agree. Even professional musicians would benefit from a community of people committed to the discussion of maximizing results with practice. Love your website. Did you do it yourself?

        • Calebovich says:

          Cool! It would be great to begin a discussion for all of us who want improve. Honestly, David Cole has given me a new way of thinking about music, hopefully I can convey his the concepts and philosophies that I learned from him to readers here.

          Yes and no. My website was designed by but I designed the blog portion of the site. Took me almost a year to make it functional! Haha

          • Yes, well, lets do it. I want to pick your brain. I just try to play in tune and in rythym. And then I’m not musical. Then I try to be musical and then I don’t play in tune……….. =*****( And the vicious cycle continues.

          • Calebovich says:

            Let’s go! I like to think about being honest when making music, not “musical” per se. The term musical is something that only classical musicians use while musicians from different genres use actual adjectives when describing how they perceive music. You can try to “be nice” to someone all you want but if it lacks genuine interests and care, it is perceived as dishonest and often times manipulative. We have to let go when we make music and strive to enjoy the experience just as much as the listener.

  2. Great stuff!! I just sent this to my 9 and 12 year old daughters. I hope that they take your advice. They won’t take mine!!

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