What top practicers get right

The Creativity Post: 8 Things Top Practicers Do Differently

Dear Students,

Read this article carefully. Think about what I may have told you in the past about practicing, and what my expectations for your performance in lessons are. (Hint: it’s never about speed, or agility, or knowing the whole thing).

Here are 2 things I’d like you to pull from this (although all of it is important):

1. Musicians who repeatedly practice something incorrectly will repeatedly play it incorrectly. Musicians who up the number of times they play a passage correctly will have a greater chance of performing it correctly.

(Further translation: let yourself play things the right way. If you make a mistake when you’re in the learning stages, go back and fix it. Go slowly. Speed up slowly. Take your time.)

2. The top performers in this study were found to have practiced musical intention and inflection early in the learning stages. This means that they created a total concept of what the music said to them and incorporated this into how they learned it. This accessed a deeper part of their learning and embedded the passage in a way that makes it harder to forget.

Now, what’s the difference between this and when I ask you to go all the way through a piece as if you’re performing it?

Performance is also a practice, and when you’re performing, you can’t stop and fix things. What goes wrong will just be wrong, it’s over, move on, focus on the remainder. It’s difficult to let go of mistakes and I respect the desire to fix errors. However, we also have to be able to develop the ability to keep going, i.e. keep our eye on the prize. If you are practicing a performance, you can make a mental note to go back and fix a section in your next session.

Happy practicing!

“The slower you go, the faster you’ll get there.” -John Link


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