Practice Makes Perfect vs. Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

I understand that the saying “perfect practice makes perfect” means that you should practice doing things correctly, otherwise you’ll just practice and reinforce mistakes.

But at the same time I feel that I could keep practicing even the simplest songs until eternity and not move on to more challenging songs, because there is always some room for improvement. I usually move on to a new song when I feel “meh, that was good enough for me at my current level”. I definitely feel that being gradually exposed to more challenging songs is beneficial to my playing, even though I couldn’t play the easier songs perfectly.

So… What’s your take on this? Is playing mediocre teaching me mediocrity? Am I supposed to keep practicing The Wall until it sounds like Roger Waters?

7 Likes

Everybody is different so each of us has to decide what’s best for us. My personal criteria, being that I play music as a hobby, is my level of enjoyment. When practicing something is no longer fun then it’s time for me to move on. If I were (or wanted to be) a professional musician then I would probably take a different view on practice… but knowing me… probably not. lol

8 Likes

Interesting topic, and one which could be debated indefinitely, @akos . . . :slight_smile:

"I could keep practicing even the simplest songs until eternity and not move on to more challenging songs, because there is always some room for improvement. I usually move on to a new song when I feel “meh, that was good enough for me at my current level”.

I think that is probably the best overall answer to it . . . you do the best you can at your level, but keep moving along and trying more challenging pieces . . .

But, as we’ve all discovered, pieces such “Billie Jean” will require you to accept the fact that you will have to keep going back to improve on them . . . :wink: It’s a happy balance.

8 Likes

Personally, I don’t fully agree with that…

I think you need to build solid foundations with some things that could serious issues (like right and left-hand technique and positioning.

Aside from that, I think that you need to progress at your own pace.
If I had to play scales until boredom, just to get better at stretching, I’ll probably stop playing at all.
I think you need to find a balance between those things you like and those you need to progress.

That’s what I like most about B2B; you can practice some things, you need to reach some minimum thresholds and, after that, if something is too complicated for you at that stage, skip it, you will get better without even noticing and you’ll be able to do those troubling exercises like a walk in the park.

4 Likes

+1 to what @Korrigan says!! All a “Fun” hobby for me, and as such is always “Enjoyable”!!.. For me, whenever anything quits being “Fun”, I just quit doing it… :smile::smile:

5 Likes

My bass coach reminds me frequently,

“If you’re playing with mistakes, you’re practicing. When you start playing it perfectly, you’re no longer practicing, you’re rehearsing.”

9 Likes

Oooh. I like that.

5 Likes

This is also where I am standing. I only do ‘boring repetitive stuff’ when I don’t really have time or mental energy to learn something new. There I can go slower and slower without thinking too much.

I think both approaches are valid however, there is sense in monitoring in detail what you are doing and simply messing around trying to find odd things you might like.

Also I love recording (video and audio) while practicing. Sometimes it is hard to see where you are going “wrong” from where you are sitting and it helps simply to relax your wrist a bit more or correct your posture maybe, which you loose track of when you are observing closely your fretting hand…

4 Likes

Nobody would be a musician if things had to be perfect. Go for making something a little better each day.
Sometimes it is useful to push through boredom to move on from a plateau and other times it is useful to move on to another challenge to stay motivated.
Of course, one can do both.

3 Likes

I was always taught practice makes permanent. So if you are making mistakes you need to correct them. I also have learned through many hard lessons that you have to start out slow…

I mean really slow when you’re learning something new and once you build a technique then increase the speed.

3 Likes

Yup. Starting out fast is how you bake in the mistakes in the first place.

2 Likes

I don’t see anything wrong with moving on to more complex things anytime. But I do believe you have match speed to ability and do it right!

So if you can play thru a piece with good fingering and technique but 75% is the best you can do, try something new… I have been amazed when I came back to a piece. Many times it was easier and I was already faster

For me its about having fun,enjoying my time and reaching those small milestones that keep me motivated and moving forward!

3 Likes

This approach sometimes brings a particular problem with me where I have too much time to think between “clicks” and I loose track of what I was doing. When I set the pace it is not a big issue but going through B2B some slow workouts were so slow that I had easier time with medium and fast workouts…

In any case all is relative and perfect is just an illusion… It is only about how well you can perceive what is happening in the moment and/or how well you can convince yourself that it is good enough :smiley:

1 Like