John Bird posted these practice tips on the CoMando discussion list a few years ago, and they are being archived here for further reference. These tips have generated a lot of discussion on CoMando, from thankful mando players, to others that add their own experiences and tips. We often get discouraged in trying to increase our skill, and John's tips are a perfect antidote to those times of frustration. Thanks John!
Practice every day.
Every single day. Never miss. Do it no matter what. Make it sacred and holy.
Have a clear plan, or even a regimen.
Focus your attention on just a few things at a time, concentrate, and use the time wisely.
Get a metronome!
You will be astonished at what a difference it makes!
You have to isolate the places that give you trouble and play them over and over.
Do it until you can play it ten times in a row without messing up.
Work on the all-important right hand.
Every great mandolin player who gives advice on playing begins by emphasizing
the importance of the right hand.
Work on your left-hand technique.
if you follow the biblical injunction not to let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, you won't make a very joyful noise.
Speed will come if you work at it patiently.
It's painfully slow and frustrating, but it will come if you work in steady increments.
The overlooked skill: Rhythm.
Take pride in your rhythm playing, as much as in lead playing.
It's not enough just to practice; you have to practice with
Steady, disciplined practice.
If you want to be a mandolin player, it will take you the rest of your life.