MISCELLANEOUS TIPS ON PRACTISING: THE DO’S AND DON’TS
- Nothing should be mechanical. Listening and concentration are essential.
- Isolate problems (fractures) and re-insert into context. Work into and away from fracture.
- Use play-stop techniques, etc. Develops control and facility in fast passages, correcting fingering and note errors.
- Create difficulties (ex. Cortot edition of Chopin).
- Insist student continue to work on problem even when playable in order to imprint corrections.
- Stuttering – finger and brain separate. Slow down!
- Parallel passages: Make RH accompany LH (tempo will slow down). Practice 2 octaves apart. Very good for contrapuntal work and clarity.
- Leaps: preparation means EYES AHEAD of hand.
- Endurance: Repeat-repeat-repeat.
- Avoid practising just a little under tempo because it makes for slack rhythm. Very slow is better and forces concentration.
- Writing in fingering and pedaling makes you think.
- Two factors that influence any performance: FINGERING and TEMPO, and tempo is the most influential. It controls touch, dynamics, pedaling. Understand what each composer needs.
- Assign specific tasks each week and set aside lesson time to hear sight-reading, ear-training and technique. If, after some cautionary words, these are not practised, devote an entire lesson to the topic that has been neglected. Once is enough!
- Every difficulty must be isolated–even in Grade 1.
- Unusual physical movements need to be learned in easy sections. Frequent and continuous repetition of a few notes is needed in order to make the movement automatic.
- Danger of sectional practice: fragmented performance. Always return to entire piece.
- Be able to start anywhere, not just where you usually start at the top of the page. Really be prepared for disaster!
- If there is a stumble in practising, avoid immediately repeating without stopping to think about what caused the stumble. Work on the fracture and see #2.
- Lots of practice hands separately and a sense of performance tempo before putting hands together ensures a more accurate and musical approach.
- Disturbing mannerisms. Be aware of: back and forth movements such as over-exaggerated arm movements, noises such as breathing, humming, throat noises, foot thumping, etc.
- Mind should be ahead of what you are doing.
- Observe every mark on the page; don’t wait to “add later”.
- Remedy for wasted practice: isolate the technical difficulties–break up sections into lengths that are simple for eye and mind to take in.
- Always start slowly.
- It is important to concentrate on problems and difficulties and work through the ugly duckling phase.
Finally, music begins to settle down, but the end of practising never comes!! It advances forever.
Mary Tickner, Coordinator