As with anything in life, you will become a better musician the more you practice and even though you can't expect to be an overnight sensation in most cases, you can dramatically increase your performance by the way you practice.
Most people don't think about warming up before practicing their music but just like an athlete it will help you to perform better and learn faster. Always warm up before you begin practicing to settle your nerves and get your body relaxed so that you will get the best results from your practice session.
Another crucial aspect to practicing music is setting realistic and attainable goals. Very few people can sit down and play a son perfectly with just a little practice, it takes time and repetition. Many musical scores may take weeks of practice just to master one song. For exceptionally long pieces, separate them into sections and concentrate on a particular section during each practice session.
Strategy is also important, especially when trying to learn a complex piece of music. You can play a tough to learn section repeatedly until you get it down or you can play it more slowly than intended and gradually increase the speed until you are playing at the tempo the music was written for.
Before you begin to play a certain piece of music, analyze it to determine the style it is supposed to be played in, what the timing should be, and the speed in which it is meant to be played. It is best to read over the entire piece a couple of times first so that you will know what the music should be played like before you get started.
If your aim is to become as good a musician as possible you need to practice as much as you can. When you see professional musicians who seem to play so flawlessly, you can believe that they practice their craft for several hours daily with extreme dedication.
You should break your practices up into segments such as this:
First you should warm up, going though through scales, chords, arpeggios, and book warm-up exercises before attempting a complicated piece of music.
The next step should to practice increasing the speed of your play by beginning at a slower tempo then moving up. This is similar to what we mentioned above about learning a difficult song.
Another way to help you to learn to read music better is to attempt to play an entire sheet of music you have never done. Doing this will assist you in your reading skill and enable you to learn to play new music much faster.
Mastering the art of music isn't something that can be done overnight, it takes years of practice and dedication.