Seven Rules for Practice
by Frank Barton (UK)
Follow these seven simple rules and you will make more progress in one month than in six months of unsystematic study... says Frank Barton!

No teacher, of course will deny the utility of daily practice. Students however are not always so inclined. They may practice every day, but do not really put their utmost effort into scales and exercises, being under the impression that these things are irksome and boring. This is a very mistaken point of view. Scales and exercises are aids to improvement. Convince yourself of this and take a pride in your ability do do them really well.

In short, put everything you know into practicing them, and you will make more progress in one month than in six months of looking upon them as things to be got over as quickly as possible.

The greatest performers never discontinue scales and exercises. Loius Bobula, the Hungarian virtuoso, told me he practices them for at least four hours a day.

It is scarcely necessary to remark that practice, to be efficient, must be systematic. Practice without system, or, what is more common, on a bad system, will perpetuate mistakes and make them more difficult to conquer.

It will be much quicker in the long run to avoid mistakes and bad habits than to make them over and over again and then try to correct them afterwards. Try to make sure everything is done right the very first time.

I cannot impress too thoroughly on anyone starting to learn the accordion the necessity for patience and perseverance in properly understanding the early exercises and playing them correctly, even though very slowly. Upon these will depend all future progress. It is not sufficient to do anything correctly just two or three times. Keep on practicing correctly until it becomes habitual to do so.

How long you practice depends obviously on how much time you have at your disposal. Most people can, if they really try, get in two hours a day. Try to do it at the same time every day, even if it means getting u p an hour earlier. The early morning is just as good a time as any. You will find it well worth it.

Here are some rules you would do well to observe:

1. Never pass a mistake
Whenever a wrong note is struck or a wrong finger used, or bellows open when they should be closing, start that passage again and continue to do so till it is done correctly. Passing on, intending to correct the mistake later, will simply confirm the error and make it more difficult to correct later.
2. Practice slowly at first
It is better to avoid mistakes than to rectify them. When the passage is played correctly, increase the rapidity until you reach the desired speed. It is certain that that which cannot be done correctly at a slow tempo can certainly not be played fast. The increased speed may make the mistake less noticeable; but it will be there just the same.
3. Find out exactly what the difficulty is
Presuming that, in a passage of four bars, the difficulty lies in the execution of one bar only, practice that bar till it is played with ease, then play the whole passage.
4. Practice each hand separately
This at first seems obvious, but I mention it because it is surprising how many pupils fail to do it.
5. Practice in small sections
Even if a piece contains no decidedly difficult passage requiring concentrated practice, it is still better to learn it in small sections rather than go straight through from beginning to end. For instance, in a piece of two pages containing eighty bars, you will do much better by playing sections of, say, four, eight, or sixteen bars twenty times each than by playing the whole piece straight through twenty times.
6. After corrections, develop fluency
Practice, besides being necessary for obtaining correctness of notes, fingering, etc.. is also necessary afterwards for gaining more fluency and more finish in the manner of execution.
7. Don't look down at the fingers