Practice Advice & Guidance
Proof of Practice
Students need to submit a practice signature or proof of practice each week from their parents/guardians.
This will be once a week during the lesson set by your music teacher
The signature or proof of practice can be in students' orange practical workbooks or via a text message which students show their teacher, or direct from the parent via email
It is the student's responsibility to get the signature/proof of practice. Asking a parent first thing in the morning 15 minutes before school is not sufficiently planned and the student must plan accordingly to ensure they arrive with their proof of practice
Practice evidence will now be in the form of a recording sent to your music teacher. This will NOT be each week. You will instead be notified by your teacher when to send practice in.
- From start to finish, or as much as you know. MINIMUM 2 minutes if you don't know the whole piece
- With a backing track/karaoke version or with a metronome at a slower speed if you cannot play at the original speed
- Using an audio recording app NOT video unless your teacher has requested this
You should send your recording ideally using Teams as it has a much higher attachment limit BUT you can also use email
These two audio recording apps are good quality and FREE:
- Android Phones & Tablets - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hiqrecorder.free&hl=en_GB
- iPhones and iPads - https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/voice-record-pro/id546983235
iPhones and iPads also have GarageBand, a free app allowing you to record audio along with a metronome or a backing track
60% of your qualification comes down to your musicianship
Practice is the single most important thing that can perhaps guarantee success in GCSE music.
Students need to practise every day for 1 hour if possible, or 7 hours split however possible over the course of an entire week. This is a compulsory requirement of the GCSE course for all students.
This does also include practice time in school but NOT in students' timetabled GCSE music lessons. Students should think of their timetabled lessons as the opportunity to clarify or get help with anything they might not be able to understand when practising on their own. At times, lesson time is taken up with demonstrations, class discussions, lecture style content or group work in order to learn new content or clarify anything that students might be finding difficult.
Proof of Practice
It is students' responsibility to send proof of practice to their teacher. This will usually be a recording sent to the teacher (details at the top of the page):
'Bad practice' is as bad as 'no practice'
On this Instrumental Practice page students will find specific information on how best to practise for their specific instrument.
For all musicians, with any instrument, you should be at least doing the following when you practise:
AT LEAST 1 hour per day for GCSE & KS5 students (this includes time in school outside of lessons such as break, lunch, before and after school)
Use a metronome or backing of some kind to keep you in time
Practise at a slow speed to hear the details better and learn difficult parts
Practise certain sections of a piece on their own - not just the whole song over and again
Listening to the original piece (or studying the notation) to know what you should be playing
Practise performing the piece to others, or record yourself
Practise technical exercises each day as part of your 1 hour per day daily routine
Practise listening to music and 'appraising' music. Appraising means critically listening in detail and analysing music. If you are currently just listening to music that you like then that is not good enough. You should be listening to the styles from the CGP Study Guide and learning to appreciate ALL styles of music
Practise what you DON'T know more often than what you do
Repetition - doing things again and again to master it. Playing it right once could just be an accident or 'fluke'
Using headphones to hear finer detail
What is good practice?
Firstly, practice has to be dedicated and methodical. Singing 'everywhere around the house', 'in the shower', 'along with my favourite tunes' and similar stories is NOT practice.
Students should ideally have a practice routine
For example, pianists might do the following:
Begin with 20 minutes of scale work - a specific scale, with a metronome, one handed, then two handed, then contrary motion
Go through 10 minutes of pattern work - left hand first around the circle of 5ths, then right hand, then two handed
Then finish off with 30 minutes of working on the piece they are learning. This could include multiple methods such as playing one section slowly, playing with a live version of the piece, playing the whole piece with a metronome at a reduced speed, learning a new section a few phrases or even notes at a time, comparing their version with the original, and much more
The above example is indeed dedicated and methodical. Practice should be difficult and hard work. If students are finding practice easy then they need to seek help from their music teacher to find what needs to be worked on next.
Finally, being a musician - like any artist - is very hard work. At the same time the rewards are quite magical.
Check out the video below to see how long some musicians practise. Bear in mind that the video contains lots of explanations which makes it longer than it would need to be. It's very likely that a professional musician of this calibre will NOT literally practise for 5 hours per day, EVERY day. That's not sustainable and the musician will not get much done as part of just living a normal life. However, 2-3 hours per day for a professional is common. 1-2 hours per day for a young student is not only common but is the recommended amount of time by music teachers.
Areas of Focus When Practising
Rick Beato is a prominent Youtuber with lots of interesting and detailed videos to do with music.
In one video where he discusses how to practice, which can be found HERE, he breaks practice into categories. Some of these categories are below and for GCSE and IB Music students these are the main things that practice should be based around
This will involve the technical aspects of your instrument such as scales, arpeggios, riffs, phrases & motifs, chords, patterns and more
Without good technique it's almost impossible to perform certain things or pieces of music
Repertoire means the collection of songs or pieces that a musician knows. For GCSE and IB Music you will have to learn lots of pieces. Some students learn up to 10 pieces in one academic year. You will need to work on your repertoire and learn pieces that challenge you outside of your comfort zone
This involves 'training' your ear to hear certain musical features such as intervals (click HERE for a dedicated interval resource), chord types, being able to write out a piece you can hear, recognising styles and distinct features, understanding how the elements of music work in a piece of music and much more
This involves reading music. For you this might be traditional stave notation, guitar TAB, chord symbols, lyrics on stave notation, drum notation and anything else specific to your instrument. The music exams for both GCSE and IB Music involve reading notation also
Individual Instruments Practice Advice and Tips
Click on the links below for practice advice for individual instruments
Websites to Learn Pieces (Repertoire) & Technique
Rousseau (advanced piano)
Tutorials by Hugo (piano)
Marks Piano PGN (piano)
Piano Pig (piano)
Musescore (sheet music)
Chordify (chords for any song)
Marty Music (guitar)
Cover Solutions (bass guitar)
Justin Guitar (guitar)
The Samurai Guitarist (guitar)
Jacobs Vocal Academy (vocalists - technique mainly)
Music Matters (music theory)
Andrew Huang (composition, technology)
Improv Piano Tips (piano improvisation)