Monday, August 29, 2016

A Simple Practice Plan

You have arguably only one goal when practicing or performing, and that is quality control. Whether the notes are long or short, low or high, loud or soft, the aim is the same.  Produce the best possible sound on every note.

Step one: THINK SLOW. Give yourself enough time to find the center (the sweet spot) of each note. Don't proceed until all of your notes are usable.  (During one of my lessons with Mel Broiles, he accused me of "spraying the air with thousands of notes of highly questionable value!" He used a slightly different wording, but I got the point.)

Step two: THINK MONEY.  Imagine that every top quality note you produce instantly deposits dollars into your checking account. Likewise consider that any stuffy, unfocused notes will painfully charge your account big bucks! It's your choice: severe fines or rich rewards. 

Step three: THINK CONDUCTOR.  You live for the conductor's favor, not his displeasure. When you play, you want to see his uplifted hand and expression of approval, not an annoyed grimace as he frantically shushes your strained efforts.

Step four: THINK AUDIENCE. They're why we do what we do! It's not about us. We simply deliver beautiful phrases to a music-hungry audience one good note at a time.  That's the goal even in the practice room. Always insist on high quality and drama.  Think APPLAUSE, STANDING OVATIONS, BOWS! Quality is guaranteed!