Saturday, February 16, 2013

When Baby Steps are Bad - A Practical Practice Analogy

Can I start at the beginning again?  Have you ever heard this from any of your students?  Sometimes getting a fresh start can be a good thing, but too often we fall into the trap of wanting to repeat what's familiar and comfortable instead of really working on the parts that are new or challenging and it wastes so much time.  So when my son was practicing today and just wanted to keep going back to the beginning part of the song which he knows really well instead of working on new material I posed the question,
"What if you went to football practice and  the coaches started teaching you how to walk baby steps again (Lift your right leg, set it down, lift your left leg, set it down, etc.)?"  Would you become a great football player? Walking is a necessary skill if you want to play a typical football game... but if that's all you focus on, your progress is going to pretty slow and practice becomes a bit pointless.
Insisting on starting "back at the beginning" is like learning baby steps at football practice.  It doesn't take much focus and it doesn't really help you get where you need to be.  Isolating a small practice spot that needs work and setting specific achievable goals in piano practice is more productive, but occasionally you can treat yourself to a nice "game of football" by playing it from the top all the way through :)

1 comment:

  1. I like that analogy. My students are front end repeaters and I have to challenge them to be able to start in any place.