Printer-friendly version weekend vote: Do you prefer practicing alone, or practicing in rehearsal with others?

The Weekend Vote

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Published: April 3, 2015 at 6:05 PM [UTC]

standsWhich do you like better: playing in a rehearsal, or practicing alone?

Both are forms of practice, but one involves other people and the other is solitary. Earlier this week in an article about teaching adult students, teachers Susan Blaese and Edgar Gabriel reported that their adult students liked going to rehearsals better than they liked practicing alone. For that reason, the students really thrived, when offered the opportunity to play together in groups.

This made me think, which do I like better? Solitary practice is fairly peaceful, without anyone around to make judgments or push you one way or another. Importantly, you can hear yourself play. It's possible to get caught up for hours, making new discoveries in the practice room. On the other hand, a rehearsal puts you into something bigger than just yourself and to feel part of a group. The music itself can feel wonderful, when everyone locks into it together. Plus, you get to see your friends.

Which do you enjoy better?

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From Trevor Jennings
Posted on April 3, 2015 at 6:25 PM
Just about every conductor I've come across has drummed it into us that rehearsals aren't for practice!
From Laurie Niles
Posted on April 3, 2015 at 6:35 PM
They certainly are for practicing with other people, and that's what I meant. No, they aren't for learning your part, but they are a practice, as opposed to a performance.
Posted on April 3, 2015 at 7:07 PM
I agree, those types of "practise" are like apples and oranges. One can actually enjoy both, but one should not ever confuse one with the other.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on April 3, 2015 at 7:23 PM
The question is simply, which do you like better?
From marjory lange
Posted on April 3, 2015 at 9:46 PM
Rehearsing ('practice with others') and practicing alone are so different they can't really be compared.

If you have the opportunity for both, each 'feeds' the other. If you don't practice alone, any other-rehearsal time will become wasted--both for yourself and the others.

Ok...I'll put it this way: I like PLAYING MY INSTRUMENT: rehearsing with others or practicing alone.

Posted on April 4, 2015 at 1:33 AM
Because I enjoy rehearsals so much more when I know my part and am well practiced with it, I have to say appreciate both. But music is a social activity, so rehearsals win out.
Daniel Hooper
From Paul Deck
Posted on April 4, 2015 at 3:01 AM
I've only played in community orchestras, but the rehearsals that I've attended have really just amounted to run-throughs of the pieces, and there's hardly any really focused work. You get to hear how your part fits in with the others (or with the soloist), but the work ethic is pretty minimal (i.e., it's exactly how we're taught NOT to practice). They just don't give me the same sense of accomplishment as two hours of solitary practice.
Posted on April 4, 2015 at 3:13 AM
Very little of the music we play is for unaccompanied violin. One cannot really practice the music without the other parts that fit together. Practicing alone is simply learning the notes. Playing with others gives one the pleasure of hearing and learning the music - not just the notes.
Posted on April 4, 2015 at 6:49 AM
After practicing alone and meticulously preparing my part I enjoy rehearsal with the orchestra putting it all together.
From Jim Hastings
Posted on April 4, 2015 at 3:18 PM
I voted "Practicing alone" -- although it's really a draw.

About playing in rehearsal: It depends on how many people there are. After high school, I grew to dislike orchestra rehearsals -- long evening hours; high decibel levels that got on my nerves and made it hard to hear myself play; quirky conductors who bored the rest of us while they fine-tuned woodwind/brass balances for 15 minutes.

I don't do orchestra anymore, but small chamber work is something I really love -- up to five players maybe. Once I've learned my own part well, I look forward to blending it with the others in rehearsal. Then there's the chemistry among us -- something I never really felt in bigger groups. And with one player to a part, we can more easily hear each other's playing and adjust balances on our own -- often without stopping.

Posted on April 4, 2015 at 8:17 PM
I also find it quite useful to simulate the group playing experience when practicing alone. This is easily done by recording a part using multi-track software, and then either playing along duplicating that part, or by adding a second part for more complex interaction and results.
Posted on April 5, 2015 at 4:34 PM
An upcoming rehearsal inspires me to prepare my part beforehand. It's a challenge to play with other people and to listen to them and play together and mesh as a group. So much more is involved than when playing alone. I much prefer the challenge of playing with others and the camaraderie that comes along with it.
Posted on April 5, 2015 at 7:11 PM
I would have thought that practicing is by definition a solitary vice. With others is rehearsing. A far different kettle of fish. We need both. Just my two cents, a grossly inflated currency.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on April 5, 2015 at 7:15 PM
I can remember one recital, playing the Franck Sonata, where every rehearsal was a new revelation, and I so looked forward to playing together. Though we both practiced alone, knew the score and were prepared, we certainly also were "practicing" together, as there was so much to talk about, experiment with etc. I find this to be interesting, the almost moralistic attitude about practice being defined as a solitary activity! I guess I see a rehearsal as a form of practice; it is not a performance. That doesn't mean that one comes unprepared, but it means that a certain progress is going to be made, playing together. It's not a performance, in other words.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on April 5, 2015 at 10:45 PM
I voted for playing with others. I guess that means I fit the adult student stereotype :) Well, guilty as charged.

I realize that's kind of unusual for an introvert like myself. And I agree that playing together is much better when you have already practiced at home and know your part. (It's kind of a nightmare if not).

But, truth be told, I don't love practicing alone. If that was all there was to violin playing, I'd have quit by now. I can do it for 45 minutes or an hour and like it well enough and feel like I've accomplished something afterwards. But practicing alone I don't feel the joy, the flow, the sense of losing myself in something greater--the real reason I play the violin in the first place--I only get that when I'm playing with others.

From John Rokos
Posted on April 7, 2015 at 2:20 PM
Bearing in mind what's been quoted recently, I would have to say that I'm fixing alone rather than practising alone (By the way, when I was at school, we were taught that Practise the verb is spelled with an "s" and the noun with a "c". Spellcheckers these days seem to be reversing this rule!!!). But it's more rewarding when you have something in view.
From Charlie Gibbs
Posted on April 7, 2015 at 10:40 PM
Spill chequers be damned! I have a lot of practice spelling "practising".

I voted "alone" although I consider both to be important (had there been a "both" option I would have selected it). I wouldn't expect anyone to sit through me doing 15 minutes of scales and bowing exercises, or solo work on pieces where I'm working out fingering. But practising with others is just as important to figure out how the parts fit together - and my partner (one or more) is just as likely to contribute to the bowing and fingering.

I agree about orchestra rehearsals - they're mostly just run-throughs to figure out what to focus on in individual (or small group) practice. But all types are necessary.

From Jim Hastings
Posted on April 7, 2015 at 11:01 PM
John, "practise" as a verb used to be standard in American English. Vintage American books at the library, written 100+ years ago, still have this form. Not sure of current British usage, since I don't often come across it; but my spell-check, which is set to US English, flags "practise" as soon as I type it.

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