During my lessons I have been discussing with many students how, why and when we practice.
What many students appreciate is that practice is how we get better. Very few musicians are savants escaping the need to play, think about and reinterpret music.
In general I find to practice effectively and improve quickly I need to work in a quiet calm space with few of the distractions of modern life. No playing endlessly for hours in front of the TV. In fact when we gave our TV away I became more focused and creative and this led me to practice more. The internet and in particular social media sites like Facebook and Youtube can also be a major distraction from a productive practice session.
I like to make sure that my practice time feeds three key areas:
Auditory – Listening and recognizing sound – I make sure I can hear it before I try and play it.
Visual – Responding to seeing what I am doing – I see how it works.
Muscle Memory – Programing my muscles to do a job quickly and accurately.
Using exercises that respond to these needs enables me to build the skills that I require to become a better, stronger musician.