Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Thoughtful Preparation in Piano Practice

 This month in my studio "Quest for Virtues" our focus is on thoughtfully preparing before playing pieces or technical exercises.
Its not easy for many students to resist the temptation to just jump into a new piece without first preparing mentally.  So each week during lab or lesson time I am challenging them to some preparation tasks that can hopefully pave the way for them to become more fluent at technical skills, sightreading, efficient practice and portraying their pieces more artistically and accurately.

  •    Before playing scales, identify the sharps or flats in the key, draw the scale and key signature on the staff and identify the correct fingering for each hand.
  •  Analyze a piece by identifying chords (I, IV, V, etc.), phrase endings (wrist float-offs), form, dynamics (color) and the climax of the piece. (See Hand Over the Pencil)
  • Imagine your piece is telling a story.  Divide it into sections and add labels that reflect characteristics of each section of the music. (See Practice Strategies)
  •   Follow the steps for mental preparation before sightreading a piece (See Developing Super Sightreaders)
    o   Identify key and music symbols 
    o    Look for patterns in rhythm and melody 
    o    Audiate (hear it in your head) the melody of the music before playing 
    o    Ghost play challenging spots.
Although thoughtful preparation requires discipline, it saves so much time in the long run as practice becomes more productive and efficient.

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