The Perils of One Sided Practicing

One thing that I find myself always going back to when trying to help students out with songs of all difficulties is this idea that I call compound practicing vs. isolation practicing. Through my experience I have found this balancing act to help quite a bit. Let’s talk a little bit about what the difference between these two ideas are, and what problems can arise when students don’t find a balance between them. Isolation Practice- This is what most people think of when they think of practice and it is absolutely vital. This is when you take a particular section of a song that is either a problem area for you, or completely new, and really focus on that part. This is extremely important, especially in the classical tradition, because this is where spots are molded and perfected to be exactly how you want them to sound. Students who tend to not do this enough will be sloppy or choppy-something most people don’t really want to listen to. There are problems with only doing this type of practice however, and a lot of students and parents tend not to realize that. A prime example of someone who only works on isolation practice is when you here parts of songs sound perfect, but there are pauses between different sections. Our brain has to not only perfect pieces of songs, but also learn the transitions between them. Only working on sections of songs and not focusing on transitions or playing pieces from beginning to end can cause just as much choppiness. Another common problem with students only doing isolation practicing is when so much time is spent on difficult sections, other sections, even if they’re the “easy” sections, get put to the wayside. Students will find in a performance messing up on a spot that they thought they didn’t need to cover. Compound Practice- Compound practice is the idea of connecting things together, and this is also incredibly vital. As I mentioned above, the brain needs to learn the glue between these sections that you’ve been working on to perfect. Typical problems that come from not doing enough compound practice are having pauses between sections, or forgetting what parts of songs follow each other. Problems from only doing compound practice are essentially the opposite of isolation practice. You may be able to play through a song ok, but it’s not going to be squeaky clean. If you haven’t guessed already, finding a balance between these two methods of practice is the secret to really perfecting a song as a whole. I usually tell students to experiment with a system that works for them that ensures both of these styles are addressed. For example, what I personally like to do is go over an isolated section that I’m working on 3 times and then do a compound run through by either starting back at the beginning of a song or attaching the section I’m isolating to another section before or after it. Having a simple ratio like that to stick to can make a bigger difference in your overall playing than you might expect. Try it out! For practice tips from myself and the other teachers here at Falls Music School, stay up to date with our blogs by subscribing to our newsletter here! You can also follow us on social media! Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Instagram Happy Practicing! Mike Lowden Guitar Instructor, Co-Owner Falls Music School

  • Wix Facebook page
  • Wix Twitter page
  • Wix Google+ page
  • Pinterest Social Icon
Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
  • Pinterest Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
Search By Tags

© 2018 Green Music School

Follow Us:

Falls Music Shop


Falls Music Shop offers guitar repair, as well as basic equipment and accessories for all types of instruments!

Also offered is a Guitar Building Workshop that shows people how to build a guitar, and then let's them take that guitar home!

Check out Falls Music Shop! 

Our Friends:

Falls Rock Shop - Guitar repairs, upgrades, and custom handmade guitars.


Learn To Play Rock Guitar - A great website with tips to help you progress in your lessons and improve your guitar playing skills.


Learn Musical Theory - Having trouble understanding musical theory or just want to expand your knowledge? Check out this site!


The Best Ear Training Software - Want to learn how to play guitar by ear or improve your playing in general? These guys have great software that helps you improve aural training

Falls Music School- Our first location located in Cuyahoga Falls.

Contact Us:

2390 South Arlington Road
Akron, Ohio 44310

(330) 690-1431

Get directions from Jackson, Portage LakesAkron

  • Facebook Classic
  • Instagram Social Icon
music shop logo.jpg

Green Music School is a DBA of Falls Music School, LLC. See Falls Music School's Privacy Policy By Clicking Here,