A student asked me during a recent office hours session, “How far along should I be after 1 and 1/2 years of practice?”

This depends on your practice. Are you doing it every day? Is the practice fun and productive?

Try to enjoy the sound, the feeling, and even the struggle of learning. This is an attitude that can be nurtured.

Don’t obsess over where you should be. Instead of focusing on an external goal, focus on a good practice process.

Use The Two-Minute Rule to establish a consistent, daily practice. Don’t Break The Chain is a habit-tracking strategy made popular by Seinfeld. Daily practice becomes its own reward when you mark each day you play.

The next thing is to practice well. Here are the essential practice strategies I teach:

  • Looping 
    • This practice moves you from a mindset of thinking and analysis to a mindset of playing and feeling music.
    • Create your own Practice Loops.
  • Micro-practice 
    • This is the process of incremental learning. Also known as Deliberate Practice.
  • Macro-practice
    • Sometimes you have to step back and just play the whole tune. See the forest after you’ve seen each tree.
  • Drone practice
    • Using drones will improve your tuning. And you’ll have more fun doing scales, exercises and tunes. The drones tend to make practice more enjoyable for people.
  • Singing what you play
    • And if you don’t like singing, just hum or whistle what you play on fiddle.
  • Practice tunes with their scales
    • The Dronopoly Game is a fun way to learn and practice this.
  • Combine practice strategies
    • For example, using micro-practice, focus on the first bar of a tune.
    • Alternate between singing and playing.
    • Try it with and without a drone.

This micro-lesson is an excerpt from an office hours webinar I gave on May 12, 2020. View the entire live-stream with indexed questions here.

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5 responses to “How far along should I be after 1 and ½ years of practice?

  1. Hi Jason,
    I have been playing for one year now. I started with your courses about 9 months ago. So the best compliment to you and your course came from my daughter just yesterday. She is home visiting from Colorado. She is a accomplished Irish and blue grass fiddler who also teaches and plays in a band. I have been playing for her and I am able to play some tunes with her…which is awesome! I asked for her advice – she said “ keep up whatever you are doing…these lessons are working well for you”. Nuff said. Thanks so much!

  2. oops….That’s ” plain” sight. And I might add, when I first started playing, I was a little discouraged because I wanted to sound just like the people I heard on records and Cd….lol. But now, after some time and practice, playing everyday, I can actually play along with some of those same records and Cds that I first listened too.

    Thanks again,

  3. Jason,

    Since I have listened and learned from you, my favorite bit of advice on progress is “play everyday”. That has made such a difference in my playing, I can’t even tell you. I have my fiddle out in plan sight, the only time I put “ronafiona” in her case, is when I go to class or play in a concert.

    Thank you for all you do,