When I have a lot to do, I make a list. When I really want remember something, I write it down. There seems to be a very direct path between our writing hand and the brain. Writing turns the abstract into the concrete, and there is nothing better than old-fashioned pencil and paper. This is what the practice tip “drawing the map” is all about.
Here is the background to this unusual practice bowing practice method: When I was in high school, I had the honor to work with violinist Robert Gerle at the University of Maryland Baltimore County Campus. He introduced me to his book The Art of Violin Practice. If you have never read it, I highly recommend it!
One ritual I picked up from this great book is to draw my intended bow map, i.e. to commit to paper exactly how much bow I plan to use for each stroke in a passage. I had forgotten all about it until I was helping my young son practice cello a few years ago. The great cello pedagogue Louis Potter uses the same drawing idea to teach young cellists in his The Art of Cello Playing . Once again, I began drawing quite regularly, and recently made a “how to” video for my university students. Here it is:
As a practice tool, this is an alternative way to ingrain information, and it works very well for visual learners. It can also be used as a teaching tool in a lesson to show students exactly how you would like a student to distribute the bow.
An easy mental practice activity, drawing the map is something you can do on a plane, at Starbucks, or ahead of run-through. Drawing our plan is a way of cross training, keeps our work playful and varied. And, it’s a way to give your arms a rest :)
Happy alternative practicing, everyone!
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