Updated: Jul 25, 2019
Practicing can be boring. The best way to become a better musician is to practice in an intense focused environment. Just because you have to be focused when practicing doesn't mean it can't be fun to practice! These 3 practice games are designed to keep you focused and improve your playing while still being entertaining and fun!
1. The Penny Game
When practicing it's important to play correctly. A lot of students tend to play something until they can play right right. Then they move on to what their teacher told them to work on next. The problem with this approach is that they aren't able to play it when they come back to it. When they show up to their lesson it takes them a number of tries to play it properly. This game is focused on fixing this problem!
To play the penny game, grab 3 pennies (or any other small object) and put them in a pile. Now, every 3 times you play your musical passage perfectly, move one penny to the side to start a new pile. Now play it 3 times perfectly again, and move another penny to the second pile. Here comes the hard part! Whenever you mess up the passage, you have to move ALL of the pennies back to the other side and start over. The goal here is to play your music right 9 times in a row! Once you can get all the pennies moved to the new pile you can move on to the next passage your teacher told you to work on!
2. Run Around
Many music students (and professionals) tend to get nervous before they play. Breaking this habit is extremely difficult and usually takes years to break. This game is designed to help you break the habit of being nervous!
To play the Run Around game, first put your instrument down. Leave your practice area, and set a timer for one minute. Now, go run as fast as you can! When the timer hits 0 and goes off, run as fast as you can back to your instrument and start playing the passage you're working on. I suggest doing this one time per day!
The run around game is great because running increases your heart rate and takes your mind off music. Both of these things typically happen when you're nervous to play in front of your teacher or an audience. The goal with this game is to allow you to play in a different mental environment just like when you play for your teacher or an audience. While it may seem a bit weird to run around and then play your instrument, it really does help!
3. Phrase Game
Phrasing is usually defined as "the way a musician shapes a sequence of notes in a passage of music to express an impression or emotion".
Rhythm and Pitch are technical things that can be right or wrong, but phrasing is purely subjective. Phrasing I've come to realize takes a long time to develop and understand for young musicians. So, the game I came up with to help is called the "Phrase Game".
The goal of the game is to see how many different ways you can phrase something and try to play each and every way. This may seem obvious at first, but as you progress you'll discover that this is truly endless.
Take 3 quarter notes for example. I can play each one progressively louder, each one softer, I could play the first one louder, the middle one louder, the last one louder, etc. That's 5 different ways I could phrase 3 notes! Now imagine the possibilities when you have several bars of music filled with notes. The great think about this game is that it helps you develop your own phrasing ideas each day, and if your teacher wants you to phrase a passage a certain way then you're probably prepared to do so!
Practicing can be boring, but finding new games and methods to help teach yourself helps you become a great musician. Try incorporating these into your daily practice routines and see if they help you!
About The Author
Musician / Music Educator
If you, or someone you know, is interested in drum set or percussion lessons in the Madison area. Please head on over to the Lessons page for more information on lessons with Sam! Online lessons are also available!
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