A Story That May Change the Way You Practice | Music Lessons

February 17, 2015

There once was a man that wanted to learn to be an archer. At his first lesson, his teacher placed the target just a few inches from the tip of the arrow and asked him to shoot the target. After some instruction, he sent him home, asking him to practice shooting the target from this distance 250 times that week. The next week, the target was moved to 12 inches from the tip of the bow. After some instruction, the teacher sent him on his way and asked him to practice shooting the target from this distance 250 times that week. This routine went on for several months, always increasing the challenge with each lesson. After several months of practice the man had become quite skilled, rarely missing the target even at 50 yards.


The Lesson

Brilliant teaching excites me and this lesson in particular is a stand out. The teacher here, gave his student a challenge that was so easy that it would be hard to fail. Because of that, almost every effort took him closer to his goal. Few efforts were ever wasted on failed attempts to hit the target.

How can you apply this to music practice? Provide students with a goal that they can play perfect the first time. Perhaps this goal is a two measure phrase at a very slow tempo. Once they get it, have them practice the phrase several more times. The goal here is always to play the music perfectly – never a wasted effort. No one ever got better by playing the music incorrectly.


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