When it comes to practice, the physical and mental endurance and the time assigned to practice ARE limited, as much as one might like to believe they are not. The use we make of these resources will determine the quality of the practice. Here there is the first E: Efficiency, defined as: ‘the state or quality of being efficient, or able to accomplish something with the least waste of time and effort’.
Aimless practice is likely to be a waste of time and effort. What is aimless practice? Practice for the sake of practice. Practice without a plan or goal, with a starting time but not a finishing time, with content that is set as we go, that makes no difference between important content, which is required to develop better playing, and the ‘not-so-important content’. Does this practice offer no results? It surely does, however they are not accomplished in an efficient way, but rather achieved by prolonging the time and effort beyond need. Practice should be about getting the most out of the limited resources available, by making the best use of them.
Opposed to wasting time, is investing time: This is required when researching and developing a better more efficient practice routine. It is necessary to distinguish the important content, exercises and concepts needed to achieve a higher level of performance, from those that act as ‘filler’ and waste our limited time and resources. Once these essential concepts and exercises are acknowledged and understood, they should be written down, organized in a reasonable time frame, and implemented to develop efficient practice habits. This establishes a personalized practice ideology (not merely playing through from top to bottom) that includes the content needed to improve and meet specific goals.
What are essential concepts and exercises? The usual suspects are likely to be there. Aspects such as sound, tonging, slide concepts, long tones, slow flexibility, scales, arpeggios, excerpts, technical etudes or breathing exercises, just to name a few. There is always and additional component that applies to each player individually. This consideration makes it impossible to generalize what concepts should be included and what exercises should be played (some exercises might be significant to the development of some people but superfluous and unnecessary to others).
Efficiency in combination with the second E and other concepts assure a sustainable, more enjoyable, frustration-free practice that sets a goal of becoming the best version of ourselves.