Wednesday, September 04, 2013

How Then Shall We Practice?

As Charlie is aware,

the biggest thing upon which I like to focus in lessons is how to practice. 

Most of the time learning how to practice is the entire point of lessons. You are your best teacher, but first you need to know what is important and how to teach yourself.

I found this article interesting and helpful. It focuses on the larger game-plan aspect of practicing. 

Too often it can be overly daunting to start practicing when you know there is a lot of work to be done and it must be complete, even though you have no idea how to get it all done. 

The answer to that is to break it up and break it down. Little bits are not nearly as scary as a huge menacing mess. Once you master the little bits, just practice connecting them until you can play the whole passage. No sweat right? lol 

Although conquering obstacles is rarely easy, this checklist of questions may expedite the process:


~In which key am I? Am I fluent in the corresponding scale/arpeggios/intervals?

~Am I in tune with myself? If not, is my pitch fixable with an adjustment to support, embouchure or my reed?

~In which meter am I? Does that affect my interpretation of the rhythms? Can I tap out my rhythms in the abstract? 

~If a passage is not clean, what interval can I isolate in my practice to fix it? If it doesn't improve with slow repetition, is there something wrong with my technique which I can see in the mirror? Is there an alternate fingering that will work better?


As with all practice be sure to be careful and stay aware of your body. Injuries to musicians are too common and can be prevented through caution and awareness. Even non-musical activity requires awareness as injuries can occur at any time. Try to avoid undue strain or poor posture, and remember to give yourself time! 

Once I got a fortune cookie with a very helpful thought. The paper within the cookie read; 

"Infinite patience produces immediate results."

Although this isn't entirely true, patience is key to progress. It is also a virtue in which I am often found lacking... but I will say that I get a lot more done when I give myself the opportunity to delve more deeply than impatiently demanding instant perfection as I consecutively build bad repetitions. Because of this, my patience with myself has increased enormously, largely due to the fact that a patient attitude yields faster results than imprecise floundering! Go figure. 

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