A friend of mine recently posted Ferruccio Busoni’s “Rules for practicing the pianoforte”, originally written in a letter in 1898. I think they’re very well adapted to harp practice (and life in general, as well).
Rules for practicing the pianoforte
1. Practise the passage with the most difficult fingering; when you have mastered that, play it with the easiest.
2. If a passage offers some particular technical difficulty, go through all similar passages you can remember in other pieces in this way you will bring system into the kind of playing in question.
3. Always join technical practice with the study of the interpretation; the difficulty, often, does not lie in the notes but in the dynamic shading prescribed.
4. Never be carried away by temperament, for that dissipates strength, and where it occurs there will always be a blemish, like a dirty spot which can never be washed out of a material.
5. Don’t set your mind on overcoming the difficulties in pieces which have been unsuccessful because you have previously practised them badly; it is generally a useless task. But if meanwhile you have quite changed your way of playing, then begin the study of the old piece from the beginning as if you did not know it.
6. Study everything as if there were nothing more difficult; try to interpret studies for the young from the standpoint of the virtuoso. You will be astonished to find how difficult it is to play a Czerny, or Cramer, or even a Clementi.
7. Bach is the foundation of piano playing. Liszt the summit. The two make Beethoven possible.
8. Take it for granted from the beginning, that everything is possible on the piano, even where it seems impossible to you or really is so.
9. Attend to your technical apparatus so that you are prepared and armed for every possible event; then when you study a new piece, you can turn all your power on to the intellectual content; you will not be held up by the technical problems.
10. Never play carelessly, even when there is nobody listening, or the occasion seems unimportant.
11. Never leave a passage which has been unsuccessful, without repeating it; if you cannot do it in the presence of others then do it subsequently.
12. If possible allow no day to pass without touching your piano.
Anyone have their own personal set of rules for practicing?
(The Busoni text was taken from http://www.rodoni.ch/busoni/bibliotechina/letteregerdaEN/gerdaEN1.html)