Hi all. What a privilege to be taking up this column from my predecessor Ellen O’Reilly. I’m a girl from a rural town in Australia called Toowoomba who has been lucky enough to play in different venues around the world, including the O2 and the Sydney Entertainment Centre. I’ve also met some great musicians – Steve Lukather, Dave LaRue and even Chuck Rainey. I still have a way to go on my own journey and I’m excited about the opportunity to devote a year at the Institute to learning and performing. But whether you study music full-time, or play after work and on weekends, it is so important to start with a good study foundation and practice plan. Here are three little pointers that have helped me out.
You may have heard of motivational speaker Malcolm Gladwell and his 10,000 hours rule, which claims that 10,000 hours of practice will allow you to achieve more or less any goal. If you’re like me, and you started learning bass later than your child prodigy friends, then we’ve both got some time to make up. Even if you can only spare 15 minutes a day, it’s better to have a smaller amount of time consistently rather than a large chunk on a Saturday.
Take regular breaks
Take mini-breaks to keep your brain from packing up and leaving you when learning a tricky piece. If you start to get frustrated, take a two- to three-minute break. Get up, make a cup of tea, practise your ‘Gangnam Style’ moves, whatever you need to do – just make sure your brain can relax and allow what you’ve learned to sink in. When you come back it may be easier to nail those last few bars.
Make it bitesize, mix it up and have a little fun
All work and no play makes Jack want to smash his bass into a wall. Try and mix practising stuff you don’t like with stuff you do. Although I’m so excited to enter the world reading music, my brain can only deal with the more diffi cult stuff in small amounts, so I take it bar by bar. Then I go and play something fun by The Supremes for 10 minutes and
come back to the reading again.
Until next time, and remember – life’s better at the bottom.