One of the things that I enjoy most about teaching is the variety; providing lessons across a diverse range of ages and abilities forces me to adapt my approach and more importantly, it ensures that I listen to the goals, aims and expectations of each student.

Natalie is an professional actor, singer and dancer. Having toured with a number of musicals, her latest audition required her to prepare and perform a fairly complex guitar part, with just a weeks’ notice. Despite having previously played guitar intermittently over the years, there was a lot to learn, especially given such a short timescale. Our approach needed to differ from how you might learn material, with months to plan ahead.

We decided that we’d need too:

– Cover all of the material in the lesson.

– Not be too concerned with achieving absolutely ‘correct technique.’

– Not dwell too much on small mistakes; it’s much more important to play the piece through.

– Be sure to practise standing up!

Focused Practice

In addition to all of this, Natalie needed to put in some serious hours of focused practise over the course of a few days, which of course she did. I saw Natalie for a second follow up lesson, less than a week later and I was quite amazed with what she had achieved in such a short space of time; I was struck by the difference that a real, uninterrupted focus can have when working towards a goal. This realisation has since made me reflect on not only my own approach to practice but how I can use this to help other students.

How could this help you?

Whatever level of learning you’re at, think about how you might change your approach if you were placed under some short term pressure. If you’re feeling a bit ‘stuck in a rut’ or don’t feel that you’re making progress, have you thought about perhaps sitting an exam, attending a open mic night or seeking out an audition? Without the luxury of time, you have to completely change your approach to learning which can have quite amazing results. It’s not possible to work with that level of intensity all of the time, but the occasional short burst of pressure may just be the change that your music needs.

If you feel that your approach to practising isn’t working, try making a big change. It can make a big difference.

Big thanks to Natalie for allowing me to feature her in this post. Check out what Natalie is up to at:

Working towards a nerve-wracking audition? Maybe I can help, get in touch