Perfect? Permanent? Either way, it's worth doing WELL!
Greetings, Symphonic Band folks,
Oftentimes, we have the best intentions when we sit down to practice, but it can be difficult to know where to start. A little guidance may help to increase productivity and reduce frustration during your practice sessions this semester. Please read the following, and be prepared to discuss on TUESDAY:
DIAGNOSE, ISOLATE, REFINE... Steps to productive practice:
1. The first step in solving a problem is knowing a problem exists. So first, try to DIAGNOSE any issues in your playing (technique, tone, intonation, etc.). Which parts are giving you the most trouble? As always, seek help from Mrs. Kuchta, and/or your private lesson teacher, if you are stuck!
2. Once it’s identified, ISOLATE (focus on) the problem area.
Take it out of the context of the piece to zero-in on what’s happening. Are there notes that you don't know (yet)? Is it an awkward fingering? Is it a difficult-to-sing melody? Is an instrument issue making this more difficult? Are you struggling with rhythm?
3. Begin taking away variables.
Think of it as a science experiment... Usually, the first variable to take away is tempo, which means slow it down: “Slow practice for fast results.”
If it’s not fixed by tempo, then we know it must be something else. Test other variables, like simplifying the rhythm, double-checking the notes, listening to a recording for clarity.
4. Once the source of the issue is identified, REFINE (fix) it slowly. This could mean figuring out the correct rhythm by subdividing, or fingering one note at a time. Next we “lock it in” by playing it correctly multiple times on its own. Repetition is key!
Use the "seven penny" trick: Strive to play the tricky pattern/measure/phrase SEVEN times in a row, without errors. As you play it correctly, place on penny on the music stand (or similar surface). If you make an error (tempo, rhythm, notes...) remove all pennies--and start again. THIS TAKES GRIT!
5. Gradually add back in variables like the original rhythm, tempo, and all components of what the composer wrote. Play it multiple times this way, but continue to isolate it from the rest of the piece.
6. Finally, add the former “problem area” back into the original context of the piece; using a metronome for consistency. You may still need to slow it down, but that’s usually just to get the flow of transitions. Isolating has already addressed the root of the issues in that specific spot.
Which "problem areas" will you Diagnose, Isolate, and Refine this week?