Intermediate and Advancing Students

PRACTICE TOOLS

Learning a new piece of music is like putting together a puzzle -- ALL the pieces must be present to create a complete picture.  

    BEGIN PLAYING CAREFULLY, observing not just notes and rhythms, but staccatos, legatos, phrasing, fingering, dynamics, accidentals -- all the black marks on the page. 

    WHAT IS THE KEY? Can you play the scale, arpeggio and cadence for that key?  Does it modulate to other keys? Can you play those scales, etc?  What are some important harmonies or chords?

    WHAT IS THE FORM of the piece? How may sections or themes are there? Do they change key or tempo? Are there variations of the main theme?  Can you sing the melody? Are there repetitions or sequences or patterns?

    PLAY SLOWLY  (this is the hard part…).  Check your tempos with a metronome for a steady tempo.  Look for changes in tempo and listen to see if you are actually observing them.

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    SPOT PRACTICE those areas that are giving you problems.  Practice slowly or hands alone if necessary. 

    LISTEN to recordings of your pieces.  Or ask your teacher to play it for you.


PERFORMANCE PRACTICE

When you can finally play through the piece from beginning to end, the next step is  "performance practice"…working towards the actual performance.

    BEGIN PLAYING WITHOUT STOPPING.  Can you play without stutters, trips or pauses.  Remember to return to a slow tempo if you can't.

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    VERY GRADUALLY work towards your final tempo. But remember to listen for details!! -- phrasing, articulations, dynamics, balance…all that stuff you learned the first time you played it.

    Can you play WITHOUT STOPPING OR PAUSING? Occasionally try to 'play through' the mistakes and maintain the tempo. Then go back later and fix any problem spots.

    Are you playing MUSICALLY and EXPRESSIVELY?  Does your music tell a story or create a mood or feeling?


If you plan on performing by memory, visit "The Memory Zone."

@MGE

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