Mental Checklist

When we’re learning to do something new, it’s easy to be excited and skip over important steps. A simple checklist helps you organize your time and keep working on the basics.


1. READ (Those instructions are for you)

Read all the information put in front of you. It is there to help you.
We all want to hurry and get to the music-making… skip the details. I know, I was the
same way.
Many of those details are the keys to your success. I have judged all-state band auditions where the most talented students didn’t score well because they didn’t follow the directions. Why didn’t they…?

I guess because they didn’t have me there yelling at them to “READ EVERYTHING”…. “READ EVERYTHING!!!”

2. GOALS (Every day has small measurable goals to pursue)

Of course, the long-range goal is to learn how to read music. But, that isn’t reachable today… or even tomorrow. The key is learning to set daily goals that will take you there, one step at a time.

Here are 3 steps to help you reach ANY goal:

1. Make a list.
2. Schedule a time.
3. Have a realistic expectation of yourself and your abilities.

3. TIME (Organize your practice time)

How much time do you have to practice and what will you do with that time? Effective
practice time will accomplish more in 15 minutes than toying around can do in 2 hours.

What is EFFECTIVE practice time?

Setting goals and reaching them. Your “Practice Routine Chart” will help with this.

4. LISTEN (Learn to hear yourself AND the music – simultaneously)

Initially, it is very difficult to listen while you play. Your focus is on your fingers,
breathing, saying it correctly, counting, etc… a multi-tasking nightmare.

Always try to hear the sound you make AND the music track. This is so important.

5. SAY IT (Say it out loud – just like you would play it)

It’s not enough to figure out the rhythm. You should say it just like it would be played.
If you can say it correctly… you can play correctly.

Likewise, if you’re not sure how to say the rhythms out loud… you’re guessing. Stop and figure it out. You’ll be glad!