“Practice makes perfect.” If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably interacted with practicing a musical instrument in some way, and like me, you probably feel like something is missing from this adage. Many years ago when I was practicing my cello lessons for hours and hours each day, I developed some chronic pain from playing the cello. I figured that practicing would make perfect, and so I practiced even harder. I practiced discomfort really well!

Throughout my years in college, I had wonderful teachers that recognized that playing and practicing with comfort was the most important thing. My practice transformed and all of a sudden, my practice toolbox included many more tools! Rather than power through the difficult, uncomfortable parts by playing it through again and again, I started to break down each moment into little puzzles. To solve the puzzle, I had to find comfort, which comes from practicing in a controlled way.

Now, it took me some 20 odd years of trial and error to develop this practice toolbox and learn how to solve comfort puzzles; how can young students and their practice parents learn how to do this? Great news! I’ve written up a flowchart to help you identify some of the puzzles you’re faced with in practice and how to solve them:

Of course, there are many more practice puzzles you will face (and even more practice tools to solve them) but you can think of this flow chart as a base template you can add more and more and more boxes to. If you’re ever uncertain about what’s tricky about a practice spot, talk to your teacher and they will be able to clearly identify the puzzle and the solutions! The more practice you do, the more patterns you’ll see and the more perfect your practice will be!

We hope you find inspiration and useful advice in our Knoxville Suzuki Academy faculty blog posts. If you are not currently enrolled in Suzuki lessons with Knoxville Suzuki Academy and would like to learn more about this possibility, please explore our website www.knoxvillesuzukiacademy.com.