The Importance of Practicing

Here is a letter I recently handed out to the students in my studio.Erica_HornsToHavanaWorkshop2011_depth1


“Dear Students,


I am so excited to have such smart, talented students in my studio this fall! Every day I look forward to working with each of you, and sharing in the wonderful energy you bring into my home.


I want to stress to you how important it is to practice your instrument. Honestly, the first few weeks of teaching you all have been a bit of a slow start. Usually I only have to endure a couple of lessons a week where a student has not practiced – unfortunately this September has been rampant with non-practicers!


Many of you have asked me why we don’t do harder songs, or why we spend so much time on one song. It’s generally because you are not spending enough time on your instrument outside of lessons. There’s only so much I can teach you when your own personal improvement is very slow. Practicing for 30 minutes a day is the minimum!


I’m very proud of you all for being so active in school, sports, and extra curricular activities! But just like your soccer abilities need practice, a musical instrument needs just as much attention. You practice drills in a sport so that you build strength and muscle memory – you have fun when you finally get to play a game because you’re not thinking about the details and instead focusing on heart, energy, and playing the game. Practicing an instrument regularly works the same way. As you get better, you won’t be so concerned with the notes and rhythms you’ve been muddling through half-heartedly for weeks. You’ll finally be able to make music on your instrument, and actually know what it feels like to play music.


As with anything in school, music, sports, or life, if you take the time to work on something, you will see improvement. All great people we look up to spent huge amounts of time practicing their craft. If there’s anything life can teach you, it’s that practicing pays off! Heck, it’s helped me travel the world, and sent me to the Grammy awards…twice!


So far, these first few weeks of lessons have generally consisted of me helping you practice during our time together. This makes for a very expensive rehearsal! Use your lessons as a time to ask me questions, and for us to have fun playing music together.


I guarantee you that if you start dedicating yourself to your instrument for 30 minutes a day this fall, you’ll reach a whole new level you never thought you were capable of.  The more you practice, the more fun you will have playing music! The more fun you have playing music, the more you’ll want to practice.


Erica von Kleist”