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A Word With Willie

Welcome to Willie Oteri's Blog about his life and lessons as a musician. From here you can browse the full articles on each topic covered in this series.

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How Much Do You Really Need to Practice

Watch How Much Do I Really Need to Practice?
In this video Willie Oteri talks about the importance of practicing and about when practicing is important and how it effects your mind and body as a musician. 

Let's talk about practicing. How and when to practice.

Like I said earlier, I'm not a big practicer. I don't practice everyday. But when I have gigs, like right now I have some regular gigs that come up every month -so I need to be prepared for them. So I try to practice everyday now. I have taken months off of not practicing. But, when you need to be ready you have to practice, you have to practice everyday.

You have to practice things you wouldn't normally practice. -How to practice is I practice stuff I don't -wouldn't normally play myself or record myself just in case I get a call to go do something like that. Maybe I'm practicing something I don't really like -an old jazz standard or country tune, something -but I try to put a little bit of that in everyday. -If I practice three hours a day I try to put in a half hour or hour of stuff I wouldn't normally practice just so I'm familiar with it.

And, as far as time of the day, I try to practice in the afternoons because for me I have the most energy, I'm the most focused then, I'm awake, I've had something to eat, I feel good, I have a lot of energy -and my memory is good. So I practice in the afternoon. For everybody it's gonna be a little bit different time. But you really shouldn't practice unless you're at a point where your mind is really really really active because that's when you're gonna learn the best.

That's the hardest thing of teaching is trying to get students to find -when it's the best time for students and a lot of times they have a day job or something and they can't rehearse in the day, or on weekends even, and you're trying to teach at night and it's not necessarily the best time. So I usually try to give them some work to take home and work on it when they feel best about it and they're the most active time of their day.

When you're first starting out and you're practicing, you're gonna be doing a lot of rudimentary type things, drills, learning the scales, chord progressions, theory, your circle of fifths, other simple music theory things -and you're gonna be doing a lot of that just as a discipline. -And that, it's not always fun. But, it teaches you -the thing about doing that is after you do it a number of hours your brain develops a way to -when you hear music your hands will go -just automatically go to the right place and you can sort of -you don't have to think about, "Oh I need to play this chord and then I need to play this chord next and that progression.." If you do it long enough -practicing the progressions and the scales, and knowing about theory, it will just come to you -especially for improvisation you learn about -your mind will develop the ability to go to the right spot.

And there's also the argument of there's no wrong note so don't worry about it. But for a situation that's not gonna be necessarily improvised situation where you need to be a side man and play somebody else's songs, having practiced all those rudimentary things and discipline is great. And if you do that at an early enough point in your career, you won't have to practice that way afterwards so much. You'll just have it, it'll be there.

Last modified onFriday, 11 December 2015 04:07
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Thanks to KD Neeley of ZiADiA for putting this series together!

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