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First, Learn to Practice by Tom Heany

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First, Learn to PracticeMusicians of any level - professional, student or beginner - can learn how to get the most out of their practice sessions with this new book from an accomplished teacher and musician. Author Tom Heany has been involved with music his whole life and shows no signs of slowing down. In this book he shares his insights on how to get more out of every practice session. He has also created content for online courses in guitar, folk music, bluegrass and country music.

When practicing is approached with the right positive attitude, he writes, practicing can be satisfying, enjoyable, invigorating and inspiring. Author Tom Heany spent 16 years as director of programming for the National Music Foundation, developing and running the American Music Education Initiative and the Berkshire Music Festival. He wrote about musical subjects as a contributing editor for the National Guitar Workshop. This accomplished musician has performed in the rockabilly band Real Gone and arranged the music of Gershwin and Duke Ellington for solo acoustic guitar.

The ideas in “First, Learn to Practice” stem from one important concept: Practicing should be enjoyable. The book, part philosophy and part nuts-and-bolts ideas, features seven big ideas and seven good habits that the author learned over many years practicing guitar, piano, mandolin and fiddle. He also conducted extensive interviews with guitar, bass, drum and keyboard teachers for the National Guitar Workshop.

The book, part philosophy and part nuts-and-bolts ideas, features seven big ideas and seven good habits derived from the author’s own experiences.

The Seven Big Ideas include “Don’t worry about the hard parts” and “Practice motion – music will follow.” The author explains the focus on motion this way:

“Picture yourself, instrument in hand, ready to play. What happens when you think to yourself, “Start playing now”? Nothing. Nothing happens until you use your body – fingers, hands, arms, feet, lips, or breath – to exert force on the instrument. It’s not thinking that makes sound come out of the instrument; it’s doing. It’s moving. So movement is what we work on; in fact, it’s really the only thing we can work on, since it’s the only thing over which we have direct control. Think of it this way: music is not what we do; music is the result of what we do. We play music, but we practice movement.”

The Seven Good Habits include “Be honest” and “Make music.” When you make music, the author says, you: “build a musical intention, a musical attitude, a musical effect, into every note, every rest, every finger movement, every breath. When you hit that target, you’ll be unable to play any other way.”

A section on tools rounds out the book.

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