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Practicing efficiently

One of the most frequent questions my students ask me is "How can I learn all of this music in the time I have to practice?"

The answer is to be very strict with yourself about WHAT you play, and how many times you REPEAT it to let it sink in. Think about it. The average student, when preparing a piece of music, plays along until something bad happens. Then what does he/she do? Why, go back to the beginning, of course, right? Then try it again, hoping for a better outcome?

Wrong! Look at the problem part as a hole in the garment that is your piece. It will only get bigger as you crash through that place, playing it wrong again and again. Instead, sew up the hole by focusing the intense brilliance of your brain on it for a little while. Analyze it. What makes that place difficult? Practice it VERY SLOWLY, perfectly. When you can play it once perfectly at a slow tempo, do not go back to the beginning and hope for the best. At this point, you have played it correctly once and incorrectly about fifteen times, right? Repeat it correctly eight times, with relaxation and perfection. Speed is not important, only accuracy.

More soon about making the difficult places your favorite parts of the piece!