Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How to Practice the REALLY Hard Stuff!

I've written a lot about practicing with my 3 year old and 6 year old.  I don't have much to say these days about my 10 year old because she practices on her own.  It's been a rocky road transitioning from my practicing with her every day to her doing it on her own.  It wasn't up to me, but it's a good thing for her and our relationship.  When she was little she used to get very frustrated with me whenever I'd correct her.  Since she's grown older I don't tolerate her yelling at me like I did when she was little so we've come to a mutual understanding that if she wants my help she can't get mad at me.  She's mature enough to know this and only asks for help when she really needs it (which is about once a week - it's kind of like a mini lesson between her real lessons.)

My amazing daughter (I can say that because she's mine - right?!!) is part of an amazing group called Rocky Mountain Strings.  They perform a lot and go on tour every Spring.  Sometimes it's just local and every few years they venture out of the country.  They really are quite an impressive group of performers.  This year they are learning two really hard pieces, a Paganini Caprice and a Bach Partitia.

To musicians this may seem like an obvious way to practice pieces like this, but everyone needs to learn how to practice this way - it's what we've been working on for a while.  With pieces that have complicated fingerings like these pieces they need to be practiced very SLOOOOWLY.  The old adage says, "If you want to play fast you must practice slow."  (Actually - is that an old adage?  I don't know.) My darling daughter has really been good at practicing this way lately.  She has her metronome right on her stand and plays 1-4 measures with the metronome very slowly and increases the tempo slowly until it's at a comfortable fast pace.  I'd say she plays each section about 100 times before moving on.  It's incredible and she even tells me after practicing how good she feels about her playing.  She practices about 45 minutes on one piece which is incredible stamina for a girl her age, but she's actually enjoying it (most of the time.)  I tell her she needs to practice at least an hour a day which, if she really did everything it would probably be more like 3 hours - but she has lots of other interests including talking on the phone with her friends.  So, in this respect other things aren't getting practiced (ah-hem, Christmas music - the concert is this week!!)  We are doing the best we can and she's nothing short of amazing for all that she can do on her own.

Does it sound like I'm bragging about my little girl.  I am!  But I hope that maybe through this post you'll remember to practice slowly - lots of repetitions - and see the progress that can be made.

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