We all like playing games and music practice games are no exception. Playing games gives us a natural target to aim for - something we all enjoy... WINNING!
Using games in your practice sessions makes the time seem to go faster, after all, time files when you're having fun! Games also help you achieve your targets in much less time. One extended challenge my students particularly enjoy is the One Week Study because it gives them a completely new repertoire piece and a week away from their usual pieces.
A change is as good as a rest, after all!
There are many music practice games, most of which have been around for a long time, so I do not claim authorship of any of these! They are all music practice games I have picked up from my own teachers, colleagues, on courses or invented with my students to help with a particular problem they are having. I have started with some of my favourites on the site and I will add more as I think of them and time permits.
Practice games fall into various categories. Click on the links below for games in each category. The games here are focused on learning pieces of music, scales or the notes on your instrument.
Learning the notes
Learning the notes of a new piece is sometimes seen as a 'learn from your mistakes' period. But... the quicker the notes are played 100% correct, the more effective your practice will be. Therefore it helps to get them right from the very first playing, even if that means stopping to work out what they are! Click here for some games to help you when learning new pieces. These games to help encourage correct notes when learning a new piece including my personal favourite, Cheating Chess!
Preparing for performance
One of the problems when performing is the extra stress you are under... and if people tell you they don’t get nervous when performing they are generally lying! However, a little nervousness can be a good thing if you know how to handle it. Of course, the more you perform, the better you get at it and the less nervous you become. It never entirely goes away for soloists though. When performing you are testing yourself to your limit of memory and technical skills. Click here for some games that help simulate the pressures you are under when performing. These help you practice performing under pressure.
Some students I know like to use these music practice games to compete against each other to see who can do things in the quickest time, or be the first to get something 100% correct a set number of times in a row. I even know two students who used to play practice games and score points which translated, though a very complex system they had invented, into a starting score for a tennis match! It seemed to improve both their music and their tennis! Of course, as musicians they understood the essentials of how to practice anything and often said they applied practice skills they learned in music to their tennis practice! Get creative with your practice games for maximum improvement!
Practice games can be great fun and by all means play against others... but remember that your ultimate goal is to improve your playing. Even if you lose the game, your playing will have improved through the practice you did during the competition. This applies to music competitions as well by the way. Improving our instrumental skills is our goal. How much we do that over the course of a week, or a month, or a year doesn’t matter as much as the fact that we are improving. Don’t beat yourself up. Keep things in perspective. Yes, have targets, they are essential for musical progress. Make them realistic though, and remember, cliche though it may be, learning a musical instrument really is a journey, not a destination. So use games to help you improve. Enjoy the sensation when you win them, even those that you play against yourself, but remember to enjoy the sense of satisfaction that comes from playing or performing a new piece of music at a standard you can be proud of.
Check back often to see what has been added or fill in the form in the right column to subscribe to the Perfect Practice monthly e-zine for more helpful tips and music practice games. If you have particular favourite games please let everybody know below!
Do you have a great music practice game you use successfully? Share it!
Frustrated with your practice? Read Practice Makes Perfect and hack the 10,000 hour rule. Cut your practice time by up to 25%! Make faster progress, learn scales, memorize pieces more easily and much more. "If you play an instrument you need this book!"
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