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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Lamont School of Music, Musicology and Ethnomusicology


Music, Pedagogy, Music education, Practice


As music teachers, we introduce our students to a variety of methods for learning their instrument. In addition, it is necessary to impart wisdom on how to practice those methods and strategic ways to approach the learning and preparing of pieces for performance.

This paper will endeavor to compare and contrast how those strategies and techniques have evolved over the past 300+ years to better understand what practice strategies are “tried and true”, which have been discarded over time, and what has been added to the pantheon of strategies and scientific studies as performance practice and our understanding of psychology and learning theory has developed. The goal of this paper is to learn what the consensus is on effective practice techniques through an extensive study of the history of practice and clinical studies on the subject, thereby allowing myself and others the ability to be better teachers for our students, and ultimately help them be better practitioners and performers on their chosen instruments.

To illustrate the main problem. If a student spends ½ an hour a day practicing, out of the 6 days outside of the lesson, that constitutes 85% of the time they spend with their instrument away from the teacher. And the teacher (assuming a ½ hour lesson) spends only 15% of the students instrument interactive time with them. Therefore, providing students with effective practice strategies and self evaluative tools for self direction that they can employ during the 85% of the time they spend away from the teacher assists the student in a variety of ways. They learn and develop faster and better. Because of this timely positive feedback, students are more likely to continue with the instrument and gain greater enjoyment from the experience of learning how to perform. The 15% of the time the teacher gets to spend with the student can then be more productive with greater value for the student.

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