Beyond the “Do It Again”

If I teach my students any one thing, I hope that it is how to practice. As a young child, I remember sitting down at the piano…and then what? Maybe glancing at that notebook my teacher wrote in. Half-heartedly playing a scale or two. Opening one of my books and launching into a piece. I’d start with the first measure (which always sounded good considering all the extra repetition it got every time I restarted) and struggle my way through to the end. Do that a time or two or many, and call it a day. I may be dramatizing it a bit in my memory. It probably couldn’t have all been that bad (I did end up a musician, after all…) but it was a lot closer to that version of practice than the one that I had to discover bit by bit, through trial and mostly lots and lots of error.  I didn’t really have a model of what to do at home, and though I had many amazing teachers to whom I owe so very much, I was never taught how to practice. Too often, we as teachers assume that the word itself is self-explanatory. Practice. There is an implication of repetition. There is an admonishment to spend lots of time at the piano. There are circles and arrows and highlighted passages in the music… Continue reading “Beyond the “Do It Again””