“Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form.”

Friday, July 1, 2016

Practicing with a Plan: Repost

The eternal question of how to practice, how to best use time, came up again the other day. Here is a repost of my general thinking: 
   A prospective student came for an interview explaining that even though he practiced, he felt there was little or no improvement. This, unfortunately, is a common woe. For this student, practicing was little more than putting in time. It does take time to practice, of course, but for progress to be made, the time spent must involve the brain, not just the fingers. Mindless rote has no place in our work. 
    It's remarkable to me how many pianists set about practicing without a plan. Their thinking, and I use the word loosely, goes something like this: play the piece, have a problem, stop for repetitions, play the piece. Instead—and I discuss practicing in detail elsewhere in this blog—in order to use the time efficiently and ensure progress, the student should identify the problems first. Then decide on the nature of the problem and solve it before engaging in repetitions. What specific movement will make the passage feel easy? What is the best fingering that will produce fluency and serve the music? This approach will cut practice time, at the very least, in half. Probably more. I promise. Try it.
    Remember, every time we play a learning process is taking place, whether we play correctly or incorrectly. Thinking is easy when we train the brain.

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