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OK, now you have spotted and analyzed the difficult passage in your solo or etude. You have played it correctly eight times, at a slow tempo where you are totally in control and confident that you can do it again and again with no trouble. Now, you will turn that spot into the easiest old friend in the piece. First, rest for a few seconds. I like to practice where I can look out at my garden and believe me, I look out there a lot! The secret is to rest briefly, but often, when you are doing intense work. Now, go back ONE NOTE from the passage that we are no longer going to call the "difficult passage". Start from there, and add ONE NOTE after it. Do this at least four times. Then add one more note at the beginning, and one note at the end. Keep in mind that you are playing at a tempo where you are in control, relaxed, confident, and always play the notes perfectly. Continue to do this, with short rests about every two minutes, until you have achieved the entire... read more

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... read more

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