Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Daily Practice Tip

I attended one of Dr. Helen Marlais' workshops at the MTAC conference this past summer. I thought instead of posting all of her tips in one email, I post them daily.

Tip Number 1:

Play - Prepare

For me this means to be aware of where you are in a piece and where you need to go...for the next note, phrase, theme, section, movement, next piece, etc. Dr. Marlais specifically mentioned this technique for practicing leaps. When I practice leaps, I

1. look at the keyboard for the shortest distance between the leaps (which interval is the smallest part of the leap);

2. stay on the first note of the leap for a long time until I've mentally prepared where on the keyboard I need to leap to - then I leap as fast as possible and try to land in the correct place. If I've mentally prepared and correctly visualized the key/chord/octave pattern in my head of the jump - I rarely miss; and

3. have fun by leaping to just get the gesture and to measure the distance of the leap.

For example, if I need to leap from a "C chord" in the middle of the piano to the lowest "C chord" on the piano...I'd play a five finger cluster in the middle of the keyboard and then leap as fast as possible to the bottom of the keyboard and play a finger cluster where eventually I have to play a chord. As soon as that is easy...I'd play the chord in the middle of the piano and then a cluster at the bottom of the keyboard. Then once that was easy...I'd play the chord in the middle of the piano and the chord at the bottom of the keyboard. Success!

All of the pieces I'm playing this Sunday - have really challenging leaps. Believe me, I've been using all of these techniques over the past several weeks.

Also for my concert preparation this Sunday - I'm using the play-prepare tip for pacing myself to play for 45 minutes in one stretch. Flexing my mental muscles--- as I have the technical, expressive and imaginative aspects of the works in place --- in order to pace myself to have enough energy for the demands of each piece. I'm "leaping" from one piece/one mood to another piece/mood. Just as challenging as leaping from note to note.

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