We Talkin About Practice?

we talkin about practice

For this example, I chose the Ballerinas Dance from Petrouchka. If its your first time going through this template, I might recommend trying it as is, so you get an idea of what works, and how you might adjust it for your own playing. Ultimately, the important part is that we approach learning in three phases. The first week we’ll call the learning phase. The important part of this week is that we actually learn the excerpt. We do this by playing every repetition at a very submaximal percentage, to allow perfection in our playing. If 50% is still too fast to play it perfect, slow it down. The goal is to have it up to 60-70% by the end of the week, not on the first day. You’d be surprised how quickly you can learn something if you never learn it wrong. The second week we’ll call the transition week. This week should be all about higher repetitions, but moving the tempo up little by little. It should be a manageable tempo, but challenging. This week helps us transition to the final week, or the peak week. This week should be dedicated to speeding things up and getting them closer to the goal tempo. I think the key thing to notice here though is that the repetitons are much lower in this week than they are in the previous weeks. I realize this is counterintuitive to most people, but if you have done all the work needed in the learning and transition weeks, you wont need nearly as much work as you think you will to feel confident. I’d rather see someone do 1-2 repetitions for the sections 5 days a week than 10 repetitions in one day. Even though it’s getting closer to the goal tempo, we’re still concerned with establishing great motor patterns in our playing.



Goal tempo – 112 (for me. I know 116 is written, so put your own number here)

-Week 1 –
Day 1 –
-5 repetitions at 50% tempo, slurred

Day 2 –
-5 repetitions at 60% tempo, slurred

Day 3 –
-5 repetitions at 65% tempo, slurred

Day 4 –
-One repetition at 70% tempo, slurred

-Week 2-
Day 1 –
-4 repetitions at 65% tempo, slurred

Day 2 –
-4 repetitions at 70% tempo slurred

Day 3 –
-2 reptitions at 75% tempo, slurred

Day 4 –
-One repetition at 80% tempo, slurred

-Week 3-
Day 1 –
-One repetition at 85% tempo, tongued
-Two repetitions at 70% tempo, slurred
-One repetition at 70% tempo, tongued

Day 2 –
-One repetition at 90% tempo, tongued
-Two repetitions at 75% tempo, slurred
-Two repetitions at 75% tempo, tongued

Day 3 –
-One repetition at 95% tempo, tongued
-Three repetitions at 80% tempo, tongued

Day 4 –
Warm up and play the excerpt

I feel it’s important to mention that this practice strategy is supposed to help with deep learning of music, in this case the Ballerinas dance. In that way, while doing all of the slow repetitions that are programmed in, you still need to be focused on great style, intonation, sound.. all of the things that will make the excerpt sound great. If you play all those slow repetitions with sharp F’s at the top of the arpeggio, guess how you’re going to play it when you go faster? So when you slur through the excerpt slowly, it wont necessarily sound like it does when you tongue it, but you want to try and get as much of the character to happen, so you know you’re not reliant on just your tongue to make the style work.

In no way am I suggesting this is the “best” or “most effective” practice strategy for people to use. For something like this to be truly effective, you would need to have a lot of hours of testing what does and does not work for you, the individual. However, I know some people may feel like they dont know where to start, so I hope this can help those people. Or maybe you’re just curious and want to try new things. Either way, I hope anyone reading this sees success in trying to make your practice more efficient. Because lets face it, who likes to practice?

Until next time,