1. Pick a time slot that works best for you! Pick a time during the day that will always be your designated practice time. Keep potential conflicts in mind. If your favorite TV show is at 6PM, then don’t try to practice at 6PM. It won’t work! Likewise, if you have a little brother who takes a nap everyday at 2PM, don’t aggravate your parents, and your little brother, by trying to practice at 2PM.

2. Develop a schedule! After you pick a designated time to practice, make sure you stick to it. Practice everyday for at least 30 minutes, with one day off. If you want to take Monday or Sunday off, that’s fine. Just make sure whatever your schedule is, you stick to it. We are creatures of habit, after all!

3. Practice makes perfect! Practice, by definition, is repetition. Knowing how something is supposed to go is not enough. The body, fingers, etc. must be drilled repeatedly until 95% of the desired product is produced automatically. When we practice, we are joining what we know mentally to what we can do physically on the instrument. Wow, that’s deep.

3. Have a goal in mind for each practice session! Practicing without goals is inefficient and sometimes non-motivational. Work on something, like memorization, etc. each time you sit down to practice. Sometimes, our body learns new skills slowly. Be patient and you’ll make progress, a little at a time. Don’t just play what you already know how to play. Make it challenging.

4. Be polite to yourself! Don’t have a self-condemning attitude, like “I always miss E-sharps,” or whatever. Being happy and optimistic, or maintaining these in your practice environment, will improve your productivity.

5. Silent practicing can help you get the “feel” of a passage into the fingers, while saving your chops.

6. Try playing a passage 3 times in a row without missing anything. Then try to play it with your eyes closed. This will test how well you really know the passage.

7. USE A METRONOME AND A TUNER.

You may still be asking yourself, This is all fine and dandy, Mr. Windsor, but, “how do I structure the 30 minute practice session?”

Here is an example of how I would structure a 30 minute practice session:

5 minute Warm-up (16-count long tones, playing entire dynamic spectrum, slow intervals/arpeggios)

10-15 minutes Technique (Major/minor scales, alternating 3rds, articulations)

10-15 minutes Melodic (Etudes, solos, ensemble music, sight reading, etc.)

Above all, remember that there are no shortcuts to “mastering” an instrument. Technique and musicality take years to develop. Think of daily practice as a way of paying your “dues” to achieve this goal. There is no learning without some difficulty and fumbling. If you want to keep learning, you must, effectively, keep risking failure—all your life!

—borrowed from “Mr. Reynolds’ Blog entry”