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How to Practice for Total Preparation

In “Pure” Technique I wrote about senseless practicing: when students repeat and repeat without thinking because they have been told that slow repetition is the way. Perhaps the problem is awkward motions or faulty alignment, so practice actually does more harm than good. I also made the point that practice must include the musical and artistic impulse, that practice must approximate performance. See what young virtuoso Stefan Jackiw, who had been told to practice slowly and had been very diligent about it, has to say:

“Slowly I began to feel there was now a clear connection between how it felt to practice slowly in the practice room and how it felt to play onstage”*

He realized he must practice including the musical aspects, the phrasing, and feeling. To practice well, motions should be correct and approximate performance.

Real Preparation

What about real preparation for musical performance? In order to have a viable career, technique must not be an issue. How else could a performer learn a huge repertory having to innervate motions by practicing slowly? As Joszef Gatt says somewhere in his The Technique of The Piano, and I paraphrase: “it would take hundreds of years to learn to play with unnatural motions” And then, the repertory must be ready at all times, if a young performer trying to make her mark is to have a chance.

Aaaron Rosand puts it clearly:

The second important point is that you must be disciplined with your art so that you are prepared at any time to play something at the top of your form – there are no excuses not to be. It’s actually the thing that made my career, that I was ready to play 25 concertos at a moment’s notice. You have to be on top of everything you are doing at all times”. **

Thorough preparation is key. See what happened recently to Joao Pires when, during a rehearsal, the orchestra started to play a different concerto from the one she was expecting to play and how she was able to recover and navigate that difficult situation Panic at the Symphony.

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