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Mendy Smith

A Well Tempered Practice Diet - Take a Break

April 16, 2011 at 3:07 AM

 After working on Vieuxtemp's Elegie for several months I had the entire piece memorized, shifts, bowings, dynamics, and even those little non-musical notations that I made over the course of studying the piece.  I worked out most of the issues in the first three pages, but hit a wall when it came to the last page of the piece:  a non-stop series of 16th note runs all over the fingerboard across each and every string.

I worked that section note by note for months starting at the slowest tempo imaginable and then kicking it up a notch on the metronome week over week.  That is until I hit a tempo wall.  There came a point in time where my left and right hand lost all coordination and I stumbled all over myself in that last page.  Rhythmic exercises didn't help.  I decided to put the piece aside for awhile and begin working on something completely new with a totally different set of challenges.

After a few weeks off from Vieuxtemps, I played through it again for giggles a few days ago.  To my delight, my fingers untangled themselves and I regained the coordination that I had lost.  My tempo barrier was magically broken.  

Sometimes it is a simple matter of over-practice that a short break will solve.

From Elinor Estepa
Posted on April 16, 2011 at 11:27 PM

that is so true! you just have to let your self and your brain to let it soak for a while, and then there it is..right underneath your fingers.


very well said Mendy!

From Christina C.
Posted on April 19, 2011 at 3:32 PM

Percolation as a practice tool!


I had also been slaving over a fast 16th passage in one of my summer workshop pieces. After getting sidetracked by other stuff I came back to it yesterday and it did seem to be a little better. Here's hoping!

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