Slow Practice

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scott
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Slow Practice

Post by scott » Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:06 pm

I have been amazed by results of applying slow practice to my own practice as well as those of my students. Here's an excerpt of an article I've written titled How to Play Like John Williams.

Practice so slowly that you cannot make a mistake - take enough time and take ‘corrective pauses’ (disrupting the rhythm) that you have time to consciously think about how you’ll get to the next note before you get there. This kind of practice takes a tremendous focus but produces like results.

Students are often dismayed by this instruction. I’m often asked how often I practice this way to which I reply all the time. The next question is but how do I learn to go fast?, to which I reply by going slow. By repeating this practice and naturally increasing your tempi over time you’ll one day find yourself able to play the work at tempo with little or no difficulty (and very few if any learned errors).

In contrast, most players play their works too fast, learning mistakes that may take a lifetime to unlearn. (And these are the mistakes that rear their head when you play under pressure, like in performance).


Please post your experiences!

Scott

alexander
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Post by alexander » Mon Oct 18, 2010 7:05 pm

This really is the best way to practice--focus, relax, slow down, let your nervous system and subconscious take control.

Charlie
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Location: Atlanta, GA USA

Post by Charlie » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:35 am

I've found that:
1. It's an annoyingly good test of how well you have the music memorized- it seems to remove/disrupt muscle memory somehow,
2. Similarly, it tests your focus- there's more time for your mind to wander,
3. If I don't use a metronome, I have a tendency to speed up, especially with longer pieces,
4. Given a limited amount of practice time, it makes one wonder whether it's better to spend it playing one piece slowly or reviewing multiple pieces.

Questions:
1. Are you talking about doing it with or without the music (I don't know if I've ever tried slow practice using the music)?
2. I assume this is appropriate for pieces you're just learning as well as pieces already in the repertoire.

In his book, Bream mentions always doing "slow prac" before a concert.

scott
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Post by scott » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:23 am

Charlie,

Thanks for your comments. To answer your questions, yes, to both! It's important, when, practicing or learning repertoire to apply the 'no-mistake' approach.

Scott

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