Here I am writing about practice again. I was talking to someone in the harmonica world about practice at a lesson I was giving the other day. He made the statement we have all said and heard a million times. I practice for hours every day but I don't get any better.

Upon asking about practice details I find that 99% of the practice is just jamming and general playing. The problem with this is that you will generally reinforce the things that make your playing mediocre by doing this. It is critical to record yourself while you play and then listen to the parts that you find lacking or different from your teacher and figure out why. Then you should practice the line or part of the line in question. Sometimes in practice I never play a song. Sometimes I just practice playing through techniques which are challenging me so when I come to them in a song I can just insert the technique effortlessly into the piece and go on without stressing on it like I normally would when I couldn't play it well.

A good example of this is Chi Ru Tsu Ru. I would get stressed out in the middle of a piece when I was coming up to Chi Ru Tsu Ru because I wasn't sure if I would get it or not. This would distract me from the flow of the piece and my concentration that was needed for the line at hand. By making Chi Ru Tsu Ru just a technique that I can pull out of the hat anytime I need it I removed a lot of stress from quite a few pieces. The key was doing it slowly with a tuner until the pitched were correct and speeding it up.

You can use techniques like this in your practice to help you feel more confident in your playing and make it not only fun but make it sound better so your playing is truly getting better. Nothing new here but it is good to hear from time to time. I know I need to remember it myself.

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