January 17, 2013 at 1:35 PMWhen practicing a piece or an etude, one is inclined to find the difficult spots and to give them extra attention. This has the psychological disadvantage that you remember the trouble you had with those passages and perhaps become afraid of them.
So far the theory. In my own experience, another disaster can happpen: thinking while playing, on stage: "O dear, this must be very difficult. I could not possibly play this" and falling off the tightrope. To prevent that from happening, experience in performing is needed: play for anyone who cares to listen.
Sevcik doesn't address specific technical problems in any particular piece of music, it addresses them in a more comprehensive way, such as a particular bowing for all music.
While I agree that one should practice all parts of a piece, it seems unavoidable to focus on the problem spots. Perhaps the main problem about focusing on the difficult parts of a piece lies not in doing so, it lies in the manner in which we approach it.
I have a tendency to practice a difficult part too quickly at first, recognize the problems, then start exploring it. Perhaps I need to take a more strategic approach to problem spots, and preemptively practice them much more slowly beforehand. In this way, one can avoid reinforcing bad habits developed by practicing them too quickly beforehand. If one can practice them in such a way that they are essentially unrecognizable when brought to a performance speed, then a passage doesn't acquire the psychological disadvantage of being reinforced as difficult.
So, in short, I think that both are important. Performing is great to get one's nerves out. And, as you say, one tends to get nervous about the most challenging parts of a piece. One needs to practice those sections intelligently so as not to reinforce bad habits and create fear of those sections. Sevcik's studies exist to eliminate technical difficulty in a comprehensive sense. Sevcik can help you grow your technique in a broad sense. But to play a piece, you need to practice that piece. If you succeed at eliminating technical difficulty in a piece, then you're looking at pure music.
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