practicing smart, not just hard (with will james)

if you’re the person who practices the MOST, does that mean you’re gonna win your next audition?

well, it certainly doesn’t hurt to practice a lot, but…it’s not enough.

“guess what? everybody works hard now.” -will james, principal percussionist of the st. louis symphony

it’s true. if you can find super effective ways to improve your technique and your playing then you should do that kind of practicing a lot. but some people just spin their wheels in the practice room. they turn the metronome on, they play through their excerpts, and they don’t really think about what they’re doing. they don’t make strategic decisions on what method to use to overcome a certain problem. sometimes they don’t even notice they’re having a certain problem!

you can’t just practice the most. you need to practice wisely.

i asked will james, the aforementioned principal percussionist of st. louis, to go to a bar with me and talk about how he practices excerpts for auditions or for his new video series called the repertoire.

he talks about:

  • how to attack obstacles
  • how to focus on your weaknesses
  • how he prepares excerpts for auditions, recordings, and orchestra
  • what he’s going to do during his tacets during his next opera :P

today’s video is about how to practice smart, not just hard (with will james, principal percussionist of st. louis).


rob knopper

lincoln center plaza, 10023

hailed by @nytimes and james levine as needing 'louder triangle notes'. recorded delécluse: douze études for snare drum, percussionist in @metorchestra.