Practical Advice for Adult, Self-Taught Musicians
Recommended by music teachers and students worldwide
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The Best Practice Workbook
Improve faster by tracking your progress learn more
“Practicing” is a
Turn practicing into a joyful activity you engage in for its own sake.
Work Efficiently, Progress Faster
Practice more effectively, using the advice of great teachers and scientific learning.
Become Your Own, Best Teacher
Identify the traits of
the best teachers, and
use them to teach yourself.
Integrate Mind and Body
Learn practical methods that will help you play with ease and fluency.
Start with an
Begin each day’s practice with a concept to help you stay focused and positive.
Play More Musically
Learn to make your playing more musical, engaging, and listenable.
Why “Traditional Music”?
The term traditional music (or “trad” music) can refer to regional musical styles from any part of the world. Unlike classical music, these styles are often transmitted person-to-person, by ear, rather than through written music. The focus was often on playing for dancers, or on playing together as a social event, rather than playing for paying audiences.
Traditional music can include anything from Celtic music to klezmer, Cajun, Brazilian chorro, English country dance music, tango, Québécois, blues and a hundred other styles.
You don't have to play trad to benefit from the ideas in this book. The concepts can be used by classical and jazz musicians and even visual artists to enhance their creativity and joy.
Praise for Best Practice
“A book to be read and re-read...Dense with lived wisdom but compulsively readable, the book combines practical guidance and inspiration in a comprehensive volume that will prove invaluable to musicians of any musical style or experience level.”
- Indie Reader
“This is a fabulous book! Judy makes us want to apply her methods, often right after reading a sentence. The bonus is that the tools she gives us for practicing music can really apply to myriad areas of our lives. This is the kind of book I imagine every musician will enjoy.”
– Liz Carroll
“Filled to the brim with practical insights, solid advice and wisdom that will benefit all traditional musicians, regardless of instrument, style, genre or skill level. There are vast wells of information in these pages that you can dip a toe, swim or dive deeply into. This is a rich and finely wrought work and I highly recommend it.”
– Happy Traum
“A very lively, entertaining and friendly book which I'm sure will be a boon to players everywhere. Contains a wealth of exceptionally useful advice for musicians of any level.”
– Kevin Burke
“A wealth of ideas and tools for making progress as a musician, all presented – in keeping with the book's own advice – in small, clear, achievable steps.”
– Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers
founding editor, Acoustic Guitar magazine,
author, The Complete Singer-Songwriter
“A veritable bible of a practice guide. Players of all levels and all styles will benefit from reading this very well thought out, very thorough and accessible approach.”
– Natalie Haas
“Kudos to Judy for sharing this highly organized, empowering approach to the practice of practice. It’s a celebration of and for the adult learner. What a gift to players of all levels!”
– Shannon Heaton
“As a resource for any musician who wants to improve on their own, this book has it covered. Judy has compiled a treasure trove of ideas in a concise and easy-to-access format. A book that we didn't even know we needed is here for all of us.”
– David Leonhardt
renowned jazz pianist
read full review
“Having this guidebook is a godsend. I highly recommend it for all musicians, regardless of instrument, level or genre.”
– Mary Flower
How To Use this Book
A Chapter for Every Day You Practice
There are 197 self-contained chapters. Each chapter offers a single concept or idea. Many teach specific practice techniques. Others address the “mind game” of creativity and practice. Some chapters are about ensuring your body provides the most effective support for your playing.
You might read one whenever you sit down to practice, or one a week, or whatever you want. You can read them in order, but you don't have to.
Take Time to Try New Ideas
In order to learn deeply and permanently, we need to absorb new material in small quantities. We need time to try ideas, practice with them in mind, and even forget about them and come back to them later.
Musical mastery is achieved through incremental progress. We may not notice a change after just one day's practice. Improvement happens over weeks, months and years. This book is written for you to read the way you grow as a musician: in small, regular measures.
Practice With an Intention
Each chapter ends with an “intention” that sums up the ideas in the chapter. In the practice of yoga, teachers often use an intention at the beginning of class to help students focus as they practice. This idea translates well to music practice.
About the Author
Judy Minot has played piano since she could reach the keys. She trained as a classical musician until age 16. In the “empty nest” years she began playing jazz, and at the same time discovered the vibrant community of traditional music. She now plays piano, accordion and violin, and has led workshops all over the Eastern U.S.
Judy began her working life in broadcast television, editing music videos, entertainment specials and documentaries for a long list of artists, including Mariah Carey, Bob Dylan, Ozzy Osbourne, Regina Belle, John Mellencamp, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Cyndi Lauper, Donny Osmond, Rush, Shania Twain, Tony Bennett and Dr. John. She went on to produce, direct and write for cable and broadcast television, including Martha Stewart, CBS News as well as many recording industry clients. Eventually she transitioned to work in digital marketing.
Judy holds a 4th degree black belt in the martial art of Kokikai Aikido, which she taught at Rutgers University for 12 years. She is also a certified yoga teacher.