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The Difference Between Practice and Play

Did you know that kids in Denmark are the happiest kids in the world? There are tons of studies that have shown this. The reason, they say, is that Danish children, compared to children all over the world dedicate a lot more time to PLAY. There should be a distinction between PRACTICING, and PLAYING, however. Playing (For enjoyment) involves doing things you already know how to do. It feels great and generates motivation. The video below is a guitar hero style play along to a popular song.If you know the song and know the note names on your instrument, this will feel like Play.


PRACTICE, on the other hand, involves doing things you do NOT already know how to do. (Reading music, learning new skills...) It involves fixing errors and focusing on weaknesses, so that difficult things can become easy - and ultimately used for more PLAY. Enjoyment in practice is derived from improvement, not by PLAY. My class is normally a mix of both playing/learning. Today I dedicated my classes exclusively to PLAY- and I think a lot of my students enjoyed it. How often is play a part of your life?? Did you know there was a difference between practice and play? Let me know!

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What do you call it when you are practicing playing something you once knew perfectly But it has been a long time since the last time you played it and you have become rusty so now you were trying to get it back?

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Austin Scelzo
Austin Scelzo
Apr 12, 2022
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Hi David! Thanks for reading this! I would call that "rehearsal" and since it's a challenge for you, it would fall under the "practice"category. You can practice mechanical skills, like finger movements in this case, or harmonic/music theory concepts. "Playing" usually doesn't involve an "agenda" or goal other than to have fun, and enjoy making music. Practice can still be fun, but the enjoyment is more often derived from the satisfaction that comes with improvement. 👍

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