Quora: How can I optimise my practice sessions?
From time to time I answer drumming and music related questions on the question & answer website Quora. I'm going to share a few of these answers with you here. If you have a question you'd like me to answer, ask away on Quora, Twitter or via email.
Here are a few things that help me optimise my practice time.
Schedule your practice
Without a scheduled time each day practice can very quickly get relegated among other things. If it's important, add it to your calendar!
Have a specific goal
Vague goals aren't helpful, so be specific. Specific goals are trackable goals. (see point three)
Use a metronome, and track tempos
If you have a specific goal, for example to increase the speed of you single strokes from 150BPM to 200BPM. Write down the goal and your current limit. Each day you practice set your metronome and write down the tempo you practice at. Each day up the tempo slightly (one or two BPM is fine) and keep a record of the new tempo. This is a great way of tracking your progress and keeping yourself motivated. Every day you can see your goal getting closer and closer.
Record your practice
Benny Greb is a huge proponent of this. If it's good enough for Benny, it's good enough for the rest of us! Video or audio is fine, just record your practice session and listen back whilst making notes on anything that you need to work on. You'll be amazed at the little things that go unnoticed whilst you practice!
Don't over do it
I like to practice for 40 mins and then have a break. If I have time in my schedule I'll then do another 40. I've tried longer and shorter periods of time, but I find 40 minutes to be best for me. You might find a longer or shorter time works best for you, it's personal. Just don't wear yourself out mentally. Practicing for too long without a break will lead to diminishing returns.
Good luck and have fun!