Written by The Weekend Vote
Published: December 6, 2013 at 5:43 PM [UTC]
These can seem like conflicting goals, because thoughtful practice surely takes less time, and wouldn't 10,000 times turns someone into a zombie?
A good practice, however, will include both, simultaneously. I would call "10,000 repetitions" a tool that you use in order to turn thoughtful work on musical ideas into something that you can DO, consistently and with ease.
Without good goals, all those repetitions will fail, or worse, reinforce bad habits.
The wonderful Canadian violinist James Ehnes has recommended said it well when he spoke about practice several years ago: "If people can have a particular goal in mind, and if reaching that goal can take on more importance than just logging the hours, then I think real progress can start to happen."
It's pretty easy to step onto the treadmill and go forward, not realizing that the thing is actually standing still and you have no destination!
Do you set goals for your practice? And how often?
(P.S. Thanks to Buri for this vote idea!)
Inherent in practice is the attempt to improve or maintain one's proficiency. On the violin, this can only happen if one is paying attention to what one is are doing, and is actively working to improve or maintain skills. Such active attention and work requires some sort of goal, specific or general, immediate or long term. Otherwise the repetition is just mindless repetition and risks being counter-productive.
Go ahead and do the 10,000 repetitions. But pay attention to each stroke and the sound it produces. With each repetition, make adjustments to bring the sound closer to the ideal in your imagination. This is the refinement that the 10,000 repetitions is meant to bring.
In other (purely logical) words:
Intention = goal;
No intention = no practice;
Therefore, no goal = no practice.
In general, a mixture of very targeted goals and goals with a larger focus is ideal. For example, a larger goal could be: Work on repertoire, scales, etudes and orchestra music. Since fitting all of it in can be a challenge in itself, it is a very worthy practice goal to aim to practice everything on your list. A more targeted goal could be to speed up the tempo of a particular bar or fix a slippery shift in one piece. It's helpful to think laterally- find similarities between the problem spots in different pieces and work on the overall skill.
And now this extremely long comment it finished. Phew!
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