It’s The Details!! Think Small Picture

In preparation for grad school, I realized one thing: all the tedious, mundane details that I seemingly ignored (at an amazing level) during undergrad will not fly. I am here to focus on the smallest of details. 

Although I frequently gloss over fine elements (such as articulation between two notes, tone, etc.), focusing on these aspects specifically (i.e. taking time to really notice what you are doing) not only makes the piece easier to play, but adds to your overall growth of becoming an excellent musician. 

Most often, when I don’t feel like I am getting anywhere, it is because I am trying to digest the entire piece at once, when I am unable to comprehend a fraction of that amount. 

This attention to specifics is what will improve our playing overall. Really taking the time to notice the voicing of a chord, connecting notes, pedaling, etc. will improve our expressive vocabulary (in a sense that we have an idea of how to do something because we already know it). How can we expect to produce a certain effect when we have never experienced it? 

Aim for very specific and deliberate practice, as opposed to approximating a passage. Spend quality time with a single phrase, or measure, and work through the various nuances. Now, this doesn’t mean go and practice a certain technique for hours on end, but to incorporate this deliberate focus on pieces your current reperotire.

An interesting note to end this article: Naturally, I am not wired to focus on the fine details, and more interested in see thing overall structure. Once I feel that I have an idea of the overall structure, then I like to see how the parts add up. I find much trouble focusing on details for the sake of details; I need a specific reason as to why it matters. My point being, know what you are tuned to naturally, and recognize how you can take advantage of that. 

Tic Method: Original Article

I have been wanting to share this method that I have been utilizing for the past year but I always found myself at odd in terms of explaining the process adequately in an all-text article. This video covers how I have incorporated Evernote into my practice routine, as well as how to keep track of progress and goals. This is the first of two videos that I have made, all of which cover a certain area. 

Bridging the Gap

We see a performer, we really are seeing only 70-80% of their true capacity, or at least that’s what I used to believe.  While I still find this gap to exist, I recently changed my approach to reaching my true potential. 

My newest belief is one of becoming more accustom to the act of performing. If we spend most of our time practicing in front of a crowd, the problem in realizing our full capacity through over-prepardness diminishes. Certain individuals thrive in a live performance, a select few meltdown from nerves, and most of us are somewhere in the middle, where a combination of the elements (preparation, nerves, etc) create the outcome of a performance. 

An example: Imagine you have just learned a brand new piece, a Bach fugue perhaps? You wish to play this piece live, but always feel underprepared, therefore delaying the performance. The catch 22 here is that a big part of the growth process is the performance experience; the more you perform the piece, the better it will become. Not to say don’t practice, but when the you reach the level of diminishing returns for a piece, it’s time to schedule a performance. From that performance, you will discover new aspects of the piece that need work, and therefore restarting the preparation process. 

My previous method consisted of preparing material beyond 100%, which requires an extreme amount of practice. In an article I wrote a year ago, ‘The Zone,’ I touched briefly upon the concept of constantly raising the bar, as opposed to bridging the gap. What I propose is that both are possible; Set goals higher and higher, while making the actual ‘buffer zone’ between that bar and what I will call performance readiness, much smaller.  

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