PRACTICE TIPS #33: Practicing in Sections, part 2: CUT THEM IN
Sep 18, 2000 19:41 PDT
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PRACTICE TIPS #33: Practicing in Sections, part 2: CUT THEM IN HALF!
In the previous issue of Practice Tips, I talked about how to practice in
sections, which should be the primary practice method you use. I mentioned
these two ideas:
1. Decide what is "perfect". Set definite goals and standards
for passing off sections.
2. Spend 30 to 120 seconds practicing each section, then move on.
Make sections smaller, if necessary, so that you can reach
your goal in this time frame.
Now a very important third tip about working with Practice Sections:
3. The pianist's natural tendency is to choose Practice Sections that
are TOO LARGE. A good rule of thumb is: Choose Practice Sections
that seem reasonable to you, then CUT THEM IN HALF! Depending on
the difficulty of the music, it is very reasonable to start out
with Practice Sections that are 1/2, 1/4, or even 1/8 of a measure.
Even experienced pianists are prone to choosing too long
sections. Recently I started work on a new Rachmaninoff Prelude. I was
working through it section by section, with 1/2-measure Practice Sections,
which seemed small enough (just two little beats!). But it seemed that I
was just getting nowhere. It took forever to get a section up to
tempo--sometimes 10 minutes or more. Finally it dawned on me that my
sections were just too large.
I cut the sections in half (now just one beat at a time!) and before I knew
it, I was making literally ten times the progress. I was able to get many
Practice Sections up to tempo in less than a minute, and even difficult
sections took no more than two or three minutes.
As soon as I gave up that ego thing of "I'm good, so I *must* be able to
swallow huge chunks of this piece whole", practice time started to flow and
I started making real progress.
Soon I *will* be playing two-beat sections, then four-beats, then whole
phrases, up to tempo. For for my abilities compared to the difficulty of
this work, right now one-beat Practice Sections are just right.
PRACTICE TIPS is by pianist, teacher, composer, and internet nerd
Brent Hugh. Brent knows about practicing mostly because he *does*
it, and in fact is toddling off to do some of it just about now . . .
Please remember that this tip is but a small spot near the tip of the
elephant's trunk--it's not even close to the whole elephant that is
"how everyone in the whole world should practice the piano".
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