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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: practice tips

Practice Room Advice from John Wooden

Andrew Hitz

"Don't activity with achievement."
-John Wooden

The above quote is the problem with practicing for time (like practice records that only note time spent.) Our goal in the practice room should not be activity, but achievement.

Every one of us can get more done in a super-focused 30-minute practice session than in a distracted 60-minute one. So hide the clock, write down exactly what you are trying to achieve in any given practice session, and don't get up until it's done.

Sam Pilafian on the Importance of Pushing Limits in the Practice Room

Andrew Hitz

"If we over-train via the literature like method and etude books, we're going to know more than we need to know in order to be able to cover the parts that are put in front of us."
-Sam Pilafian

The above quote was taken from Sam's fantastic interview in A Band Director's Guide to Everything Tuba: A Collection of Interviews with the Experts.  It is a good reminder to us all that we have to encounter everything we'd ever need to do on stage (and then some!) in the practice room in order to be truly prepared.

The best bands perform full run throughs of pieces and entire programs when they are mentally and physically exhausted, yet hold themselves to the same high standards.  The people most prepared to win an audition have played the excerpts during their preparations in every possible order including the worst ones for their chops.

Anyone who makes performing look easy has a secret.  It is easy compared to what they made themselves do in the practice room.

A Practice Tip for Students by Chris Castellanos

Andrew Hitz

In Boston Brass master classes I used to hear Chris Castellanos mention a really great tip to get kids to practice more and more frequently.  When he was a student, he was taught to keep his horn out of its case on his bed each day.

He shares that there was only so many times he could walk past his horn lying there, ready to play, without picking it up and at least playing a few notes on it.  He found that he played a lot more if it was staring him in the face than if it was in its case in the corner of his room.  He also has found that it works for his students too.

So leave that horn out where it is very hard to ignore it!

Five Steps to Mastering a Piece of Music

Andrew Hitz

Here are five steps to mastering any piece of music.  If done correctly, it will work every single time.

  1. Record yourself.
  2. Listen to it.
  3. Analyze it.
  4. Change something.
  5. Repeat.

How do you know when the tomato sauce you're making from scratch has the right amount of salt? You taste it.  If it needs more you do two things: add a little salt and then taste it again.  Too often as musicians we record something, hear something that needs changing, change it, and then we're done with it.

Always taste the musical sauce before it is served.

With painters here at the house, if you need the score to Rite of Spring, it is in the shower. © 2014 Andrew Hitz

Practicing Summed Up in 6 Sentences by Doug Yeo

Andrew Hitz

This quote is from Doug Yeo, the former bass trombonist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  My wife Tiffany is a band director in Fairfax County, Virginia and it came from her band room wall.  This sums up practicing as well as anything can.  

If you practice, you get better.

If you get better, you play with better players.

If you play with better players, you play better music.

If you play better music, you have more fun.

If you have fun, you want to practice more.

If you practice more, you get better...

 

That pretty much covers it, right?

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