5 Ways To Inspire Creative Practicing

Scales, arpeggios, reading, writing, technique, warmups, rhythm, composition, theory, counterpoint, Schenkerian analysis! (just kidding about that last one…. )

With all these different areas (and plenty more like theory, ear training, repertoire) to cover, who has time for creativity?

Simple answer: Everybody!

You can always be creative, even at the beginning.

Here’s 5 ways to amplify creativity in music lessons on any instrument. All it takes is a little bit of imagination…

1. Scales

Scales are supposed to boring, right?

Not anymore!

To make scales more interesting, I use cool sounding loops instead of a metronome. It’s pretty simple: just put the loop on, and let them go.

There’s a strategy here, of course: practicing scales along with awesome sounding tracks and loops inspires improvisation and creativity, which leads to higher engagement and more practicing, and better technique.

2. Arpeggios

Chords, arpeggios, voice leading… playing these patterns fluently is an essential skill.

When you play them against looping patterns, things get more interesting and creative. Whether it’s a simple loop and a bass line or something more complex, try practicing arpeggios with backing tracks, just like how I described practicing scales above.

Another fun thing to do is get an arpeggio pattern going on autopilot in the left hand and let the right hand play different notes against it. Even just one or two notes is enough to create interesting combinations.

If the student doesn’t yet have the coordination to do this, you can use Musico to record a left hand pattern on the spot, and loop it for play-along practice in the lesson.

3. Warmups

In music lessons, warmup exercises are often very standardized. So how can we make them creative?

I like to mix things up all the time. Throw people into random keys. Change tempo on them. Have them warm up on various patterns that are then converted into improvisations which we record and listen back to. At any moment, a standard warmup could turn into a spontaneous composition assignment.

And of course, all warmups can be done against a variety of different drum loops and musical patterns and background tracks.

4. Slow Technique

One of the most often overlooked aspects of technique for students is repetition at different speeds. 100%, 50%, and 25% of performance tempo, all present different challenges. Playing sections over and over again at these tempos can get kind of monotonous and frustrating.

That’s why I like to put interesting sounding drum loops on and let them practice against loops that put them into different musical genres.

5. Rhythm

There’s about 1,439,455,235,938 different rhythms out there, but the rhythms in most popular music, and most popular classical and jazz music, all reduce down to a handful of patterns based on 2’s and 3’s.

Generally, rhythmic creativity is a call and response activity. No matter the instrument, teachers who pass on serious groove capabilities do it in the moment.

Musico makes it easy to capture the moment…

Capturing the creativity when it happens is essential. Then having a way to easily recall and practice along with accurate loops later on makes it possible to forget about everything and dive into a deep practice session, on repeat, for as long as you want.

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