Practicing SMART

Expert tip from our Faculty


Editor:  Erin Cano, Violin and Viola


Carrie Anselmo, Suzuki violin:

A practice session starts with open string bowing techniques as a warm-up to get the right hand engaged. It includes starting with scales and beginning to build upon these skills. Using a metronome and different bowing patterns helps increase knowledge within the selected repertoire. Before diving into repertoire and selecting pieces for my instrument, I like to focus on etudes, double stops, shifting, and technique books that build upon sequential techniques that help both the left and right hand. I identify difficult passages, take them apart, and work out certain measures and phrases. Next, I increase the speed and techniques.


Setting clear SMART goals is the best way to work a practice session. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.  When practicing, location is key for a mindful practice session as well as productive mindset. All electronics and other devices that would be distracting should be put away. At the end of each practice session, it's always fun to sit back, relax, and enjoy playing straight through the piece.


The progress made during "problem spot" practicing can be reinforced, and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment hearing changes you’ve made in the full context of the piece.

So let the music-making begin! You CAN make "practice makes perfect" come true for you. All it takes is a little hard work and a lot of concentration. You'll soon find just how rewarding productive practicing can be.

Music Institute of Chicago - New Horizons Band - Paul Hefner - Photo copyright Elliot Mandel 2015
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