Saturday, March 14, 2009

Watch Your Speed

With recitals, boards, and auditions once again just around the corner, we unconsciously rev up the speed of practicing and usually do more wheel-spinning than getting anywhere. "More and faster" seems to be our instinctive defense against deadline pressures, when just the opposite is much more productive.

This is nothing new, but try making yourself play in slow motion and see what happens. Insist on exact pitch and clear tone no matter how short the notes. At the pace of a snail, you can easily eliminate air notes, fuzzed, and pinched notes. You will also be able to get a better feel for all the intervals, chords, and patterns just as a pianist positions hands to cover even the widest leaps. Instead of stabbing in the dark, you will be able to pounce with accuracy.

You must be a cat deftly scampering all over the place in pursuit of mice. But notice that the cat is first motionless as it stakes out its prey. It thinks about it, plans the strategy, then proceeds with caution. Stalking very slowly at first, it then gradually picks up speed en route for the kill.

Know where you're going before you get there. Your brain must precede your tongue and fingers. Not only will the mechanics be better coordinated, but you will give your musical ideas a chance to happen. So, set your metronome on "boring", and clean it up. You can speed later.

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