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Friday, August 17, 2018

Polishing Pieces for Performance

How is piano practice like a car wash?
After moving beyond the 3 S's of practice (Slowly, Separate, Sections) and learning the basic elements of a song like rhythm and notes, it can be tempting to just move on and check the song off as complete.  And if you are just hoping for just good results then maybe that is enough.

But these words of a 4-H camp song apply to performance preparation.
"Good, Better Best
Never let it Rest
Make your Good Better
And your Better Best"

Learning the notes and rhythm is like spraying off a dirty car.  But that isn't the end.
If you don't want visible spots, you need to to dry it off to make it look better.
Just like drying, adding dynamics and expression to a song definitely makes it better.  Sometimes "better" is all your aiming for. Not every situation requires a "polish" because some songs are merely stepping stones on your path.
But if you are aiming for an excellent performance it's necessary to top it off with polish, which takes more time effort, and a closer examination of the details.

How to Polish
1. Record yourself playing
2. Listen multiple times specifically paying attention to each of the different elements of BAPDARP that apply to the piece and identify at least 2 things you are doing well and 2 you can improve in each area.
Balance
Articulation
Phrasing
Dynamics
Architecture
Rubato
Pedaling
3. Add flags or notes to the areas you need to improve and practice them in small chunks until you meet your target goal.
4. Repeat Steps 1-3 until you have a "polished" piece.

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