There are just 3 rules of music practice, and nobody knows what they are.
This is good news. When there is no clear path, you’re better off with a compass than a map. With a compass, you’re figuring out where you are and where you need to go based on your immediate surroundings. A map won’t tell you anything about where you are or what direction you’re facing, or what the weather is like.
It’s good to NOT know. It can be easy to forget (and difficult to embrace) the fact that not knowing is the first step on the path to true knowledge. But as for practice advice, it’s not too practical, is it?
Most of the world-class musicians I’ve spoken with about music practice have said that, for the most part, they learned to practice on their own, doing the hard work to figure out what worked for them. Now and then a teacher might show them a thing or two, but for the most part, most of us have been on our own.
This isn’t to say that we should ignore other information about music practice, no matter where it comes from. And there are certain “rules” of music practice that seem to work across all genres, but you can bet your last dollar that what works well for a punk rocker won’t work as well for a concert orchestral soloist. That’s why nobody knows what the three rules are. They change depending on the person. You have to find your own three rules.
It’s the active engagement with the material–whether it’s power chords or Petroushka–that makes the difference. Here are some of the best resources I’ve found useful as a compass to help understand practice better. I hope they help you, too.