This is my theme for 2016.
Why do we practice?
- To achieve the objective of playing better, accurately and skilfully. My Professor always told me that it was better to practice a bit everyday and even several times a day, than to practice for two hours once a week. The brain retains the memory of practice from shorter intervals of time than from long lapses of time. The result of long lapses of time make it as if you are starting over.
- It gives you self confidence. When you finally ace that tough passage, master that difficult fingering of a scale, it is an euphoria moment. One thing I must stress, you must practice a passage accurately more times than you practice it incorrectly. Many times I will have a student that wants to start at the beginning when they play a phrase inaccurate in the music. I direct them to start at the place they made a mistake, perhaps a bar before. Otherwise they are only perfecting the bit they can play well, whilst neglecting the bit that needs help. One rule is: once that bit can be played five times accurately, it is considered perfected.
- It becomes a part of your memory. If you can internalise the music your inner ear will assist you when your aural skills test your kinaesthetic skills. If you can hum it and finger it away from your instrument you are on your way!
I highly recommend mental practice away from your instrument. Take a copy of your music with you, look at the notes, the rhythmic patterns, the difficult passages, and play them on your “air instrument”. Mark your practice, your fingering & breathing. Sing the melody in your head.
If you are a vocalists, put the track on your device and practice singing it. Memorise your lyrics, practice just singing the vowels or consonants.
Finding the tracks to match your repertoire will aid your aural awareness, especially when you are away from your instruments.
Remember, perfect practice makes perfect!