June 2009

Taking Notes Whilst Practicing.

June 20, 2009 16:13


I have never written a blog before. I have always wanted to write one but procrastination always seemed to get the better of me. Well, not this time.

I like writing a lot, actually. When I go to college I want to do some sort of English major, perhaps along with a music major. I adore writing so much that I write when I practice.

I started doing it the summer before I was a freshman in highschool. All of my practicing before then was....non-intelligent practice. It was something I did but didn't want to take much time to give thought to. I practiced to satisfy the practice sheet my elementary school director handed out. There was a summer when I didn't touch my violin at all. The reason why I started taking violin (and, thus, practicing) more seriously was when a) I got a teacher and, b) All-State orchestra auditions were coming up and I wanted to get in.

I always had a notebook which I would decorate with pictures of violins, musical notes, quotes, or anything pertaining to music. My first notebook had entries that were more like practice journals. I would write down what scale I would play next, or what solo piece I would run through, and then I'd write metronome marking goals or other comments. It was, actually, a lot like the practice sheets my director used to give me, but this time it was (yes) voluntary, and, it sometime seemed, necessary.

Over the next few years I continued to write in notebooks. For the three years I've been doing it I've filled up three notebooks and am working on my fourth. As I observe them, I notice a shift in the topics they cover. Before they were merely a jot of what I had played through during the session. A stranger sitting in the same room could have written the exact things. Now, they focused on quite a broader range of topics, technical (intonation, vibrato, sound production, bow distribution), musical (character, phrasing, dynamics, timing---very sadly, I didn't think of music much until the summer of my sophomore year, thanks to my awesome, ruthless violin teacher), philosophical (auditioning, the different mindset of playing in front of different people vs. playing by yourself, and "the attitude of a student"). I tried to concentrate my entries on what goes on in my mind, what I'm thinking as I play something, elements that can only be observed by myself. Not that the 'outside listener' aspect is not important (in fact, I would say that it is the most important). It can be observed by recording and playing back, or decided that a certain practice session will be dedicated to listening and correcting by that.

The notebooks have focused my practice sessions. For me, at least at the beginning of learning something, I must know exactly what I am doing. I not only have to be physically prepared to play, but mentally able to (somewhat) comprehend how I'm making that sound, all the little muscles that go into play, and be able to explain it in words.

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