Would you like to…

  • Become a better player fast?
  • Save countless hours of practice time?
  • Learn new songs and pieces quickly, but also learn them well?

If so, here’s the single most profitable practicing tip I know. 

This tip is actually a rule of practicing. It’s so precious (i.e. valuable) that I call it the Golden Rule of Practicing.

The Golden Rule of Practicing applies to learning a written piece or anything else you want to play well, like scales.

Strangely, the Golden Rule is almost never explicitly mentioned by teachers, which is a shame because applying it consciously and intentionally brings you the most benefit.

The Golden Rule of Practicing is:

Stop before making a mistake.

This means don’t let yourself play a wrong note, or the right note with the wrong finger.

Why? Because it’s a physiological fact that the brain (which is what you’re really training, not your fingers) doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong notes. The brain learns what you do. If you do something repetitively, right or wrong, it will learn that even better. 

If you stop before making a mistake, you won’t learn it . . . and later have to spend time unlearning it.

Here’s another way to put the Golden Rule (paraphrasing the traditional Golden Rule):

Do unto your practicing as you would have your playing do unto you.

Translated into modern English, that’s practice as well as you would like to play.

Now, you’re human, and you will make mistakes. (I’m probably on my millionth by now.)

Still, you’ll save countless hours of practice time by applying the Golden Rule.

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