Happy New Year! (Yes I am aware tomorrow is March) Wow was 2015 a busy year and the start of 2016 hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down either. I have been MIA for a few months as I have had no time to get to the blog. However, my time feverishly practicing has inspired this next series of posts. I have had a lot on my plate since December and it has left me very thankful for what I call my “process”. What I mean by process is my: planning, learning, practicing, balancing, and scheduling my time to prepare pieces. A lot of that comes from experience and knowing what works well for me. I am a planner and I know if I can see a plan in place, then I can trust that plan when it may seem in the moment that there is no way I am going to be ready for the performance. For those who are not planners this may seem like overkill, but for those that are, I hope it helps. I tell my students all the time to “trust the process” and I hope these posts can help you establish your own process.
At a certain point the number of available hours in a day simply isn’t going to increase and working “harder” simply isn’t possible. Even if you do sacrifice other things in life such as sleep, exercise, your social life, or family; eventually that will catch up with you and your productivity will fall. This is when you need to start working smarter. You are already working hard, now make sure you are working smart and hard. Having a plan will help you be the most efficient you can during those available hours in the practice room.
I will explain my philosophy by using a common analogy. If I equate learning a piece (or multiple pieces) to building a brick wall, I have to start by laying the first brick. Even if the wall will ultimately be 50 feet tall and hundreds of feet long, it starts with one brick. If you stare at the location of your wall and only think about ow hard it’s going to be to build, it can be hard to start. If you stare Bach’s G minor Fugue on the first day of learning it only thinking about the end, you can quickly become overwhelmed. This is an often over-used analogy but I think it is very appropriate. Building a wall, no matter how big, starts with one brick and a plan. Learning the hardest piece you have ever learned starts with the first note and a plan.
Over the next few weeks I am hoping to outline my process into 4 different categories:
- How I go about choosing and learning a piece.
- How I go about practicing that piece.
- How I balance preparing multiple works at the same time.
- How to build a timeline so your progress and improvement will peak at the performance.
I’m sure many of you can relate to the challenges presented above. My hope is to tackle many of them in the upcoming posts. If there is anything specific you would like me to cover, leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.