A Better Way to Practice, a motivational article by Noa Kageyama on the website Lifehacker, looks at effective ways to practice, whether writing, music, dancing - or SCA combat.
In the article, Kageyama looks at alternatives to mindless hours of practice in search of a "more scientific" way to achieve perfection. The solution is Deliberate Practice.
Deliberate, or mindful practice is a systematic and highly structured activity, that is, for lack of a better word, more scientific. Instead of mindless trial and error, it is an active and thoughtful process of hypothesis testing where we relentlessly seek solutions to clearly defined problems.
Deliberate practice also involves monitoring one's performance - in real-time and via recordings - continually looking for new ways to improve. This means being observant and keenly aware of what happens, so that you can tell yourself exactly what went wrong. For instance, was the first note note sharp? Flat? Too loud? Too soft? Too harsh? Too short? Too long?