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Mendy Smith

The Art of Practicing

December 15, 2007 at 4:25 AM

It finally hit me hard today. My teacher is on holiday for the next three weeks. It is 4 weeks until the competition. That means, I'm practicing solo for the next three weeks to try to "fix" as much as I can without a coach. To top things off, the pianist that I was to have backed out (holiday madness) and I'm looking for another. This realization helped enforce the art of practicing that my teacher and others on this site have written about.

After the "Ultimate Warm-up" (it still works like a charm BTW), I focused my time on some technical and stylistic challenges in Bruch. I practiced a few problematic shifts using the Yost excercises until each beginning note and ending note rang like a bell (that was about 20 repetitions per shift). I practiced the 3-part chords and 32nd note runs by starting with the first note (3-note chord), then adding one note and repeating until it was perfect at least 3 times in a row before adding just one more note. Then I repeated the same exercise adding dynamics and articulation.

I didn't play the entire piece all the way through like I normally would, but instead worked a few sections with immense concentration for about an hour (after the warm-up). When I put my viola in it's bed for the night, I felt satisfied with the hour's productive practice.

What a dramatic change in this practice session than the frustrating one a week ago! With such little time left to make a giant leap musically, practicing smarter not longer is the path I need to be taking. It only took me 29 years to figure this out! :)

Practicing is an art in and of itself.

From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 16, 2007 at 4:56 PM
>My teacher is on holiday for the next three weeks. It is 4 weeks until the competition.

Oh, my goodness. Nothing like a little self-discipline for the holidays, eh? : ) Good luck to you!

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