My passion is to help others in the community, young, old, and everyone in between, find relevance and joy in learning, performing or listening to classical music.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Approaching practicing and performing from a healthier place

Learning music is not like learning facts yet I think so often that's how it's approached. In the practice room, you either get it right or you don't get it right. In my experience, that's not a helpful way to evaluate one's practicing. When I learn a piece of music, when I practice, I'm constantly seeking to improve several things. At the top of my list are:

  • Confidence
  • Comfort
  • Character
  • Conviction

Confidence: I want to keep working at feeling more and more confident about the notes, the rhythms, dynamics, stylistic elements, etc... This one is important to work on from the beginning on working on a piece of music.
Comfort: Comfort is also really important. I'm constantly evaluating how it feels to play the music. Am I doing anything physically that's creating accents I don't want? Am I doing things that are making it harder to play what I'm supposed to be playing? Is there a different fingering, bowing, place to take a breath, that would make the passage more comfortable physically and/or make it more easy to play musically? Character: How clear a character or mood do I have in mind for any given part of the music? How descriptive can my adjectives be for what I want to get across? Do I know what instrument I'd like any given spot to sound like? Conviction: This one tends to be more of a focus closer towards performance time and it's a great thing to focus on when doing mental practice. I like to ask myself, "Can I close my eyes away from the instrument and hear exactly how I want the music to go?" If I can successfully do this, I know I'm on the right track! With all of these points, it's important to note that there's never really any end point for any of them. I can always, ALWAYS get better at them all. My goal when I practice and quite frankly when I perform, is to keep improving each of these. If I've improved one or more aspects in a session, I walk away content. If I've improved one or more aspects in a performance, I also walk away content.
To conclude, rarely, if ever, do I not improve some aspect of one of these areas when I practice or perform. Which means I am pretty proud of the work I do. Which means I quite like practicing and performing. It makes me feel good about myself & what I'm capable of. The audience can sense this and I think it makes it much easier for them to relax and enjoy the performance as a result which then feeds my enjoyment of the whole experience.

One positive thing leads to another. I highly recommend it!

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