Easy ways to practice better

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Two easy things that make practice more efficient:

1. At the end of a session, jot down what to do first at the next session. "Memorize Schubert 3rd movement starting at bar 20," or "Listen to practice tape of Beethoven," or whatever. This saves a *surprising* amount of time at the beginning of practice sessions. And what is probably just as important, it gives you a feeling that your sessions are connected to each other, no matter how broken up in time they may actually be.

2. When you go to sleep, think of some musical or technical problem in a piece you're working on. Turn it over in your mind as you fall asleep. This lets your unconscious 'cook' on it while you're sleeping; or it seems so to me. Often you'll wake up with a great idea about how to solve the problem.

-- James Boyk (boyk@caltech.edu), August 06, 1998


In connection with better practice, I'd like to give feedback on my experience in working with a tape recorker. I've only been doing it for two weeks but the results are nothing short of astonishing. Having been something of a technophobe and anti-technology in general, I thought it would be very bothersome and inefficient to be turning the tape on and off, taping and listening back. On the contrary, it has turned out to be extremely efficient because you hear what you are *actually* doing as opposed to what you *think* you are doing. There's a world of difference between the two. Making music is such a consuming activity that it is very hard to play and listen really well simultaneously. Taping allows you to focus in on playing only during taping and listening only during the playback. The amount of attention I give to listening to the tape is extraordinary. It makes you care about what you are doing and that in turn is a tremendous motivation to improve your skill. I have never learned so much music so thoroughly in so little time as I have the past two weeks.

-- Nikki Tsuchiya (NT2469@aol.com), August 08, 1998.

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