April 14, 2016, 4:30 AM · Smart practice is efficient practice. Indeed, "quality over quantity" has never applied so appropriately. This is what tell my students, and observe myself, regarding practice:
Keep a basic warm up and warm down that involves scales, and arpeggios. This lets your hand peruse the roadmap before starting the journey.
Relaxed playing yields a willful technique. Forced playing yields an unwillful technique.
Don't let the technique control the music and phrasing. Let the music and phrasing control the technique.
Practice goes both ways. It is VERY easy to practice and get worse! Practicing something wrong teaches it to your body wrong. Practice does not make perfect unless your practice is perfect.
Self-recording is something we can do with great ease today. It's the best path to thinking about how you sound, rather than sounding how you think!
Even 15 focused minutes every day will always be better than 4 crammed / desperate hours once a week.
Pain is a red flag for something you can do better in your setup. Take the time to find and fix these things immediately, and always.
Musicians are like a family, wherein competition is silly. The only artist you should try to be better than is the one you were yesterday.
It's just as important to leave practice with a new goal, as it is to enter with the old one.
If your ego keeps you from asking for help, eventually there will be no help to support that ego.
Lastly, I say just to ALWAYS make music! Playing the ink alone is akin to eating mustard, and throwing the rest of the sandwich away. Eventually you get sick from it, and it's not healthy.