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Violin Lessons: Practice is Rehearsal

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[MUSIC]
Another way to think about
practice is as a rehearsal.
It's a rehearsal for performance, simply
put.
And so some portion of every day of
practice should be devoted to rehearsing
the performance.
We all know what practicing can feel like
when we're trying something out.
[MUSIC]
The problem there is that,
that bears no resemblance to what you're
eventually going to do with the piece,
which is either recorded, perform it for
people.
Play it in an audition, play it in a
competition, play it for a lesson.
And so many people run into problems when
that moment comes.
The recording, the lesson, the recital,
the competition.
They realize that so much of their
practice has not been devoted to that.
So what I want you to think about is
always anytime you put
your bow to the string that you have
quality sound,
that means that even if you're trying to
get something in tune, just two notes.
[SOUND] I've seen people practice in this
fashion.
[MUSIC]
The problem there is that when you play it
in context, it's not gonna have all those
little notes and restarts.
If the shift comes in this context.
[MUSIC]
Then you should practice with that bow
direction, meaning a downbow.
You should practice in that general tempo,
you should practice with vibrato and
you should practice with quality sound.
So you could either do the whole bit.
[MUSIC]
Or just.
[MUSIC]
But never finding the note with bad sound.
[MUSIC]
Those kind of starts can wreck your
playing under pressure, because you have
just as many of
those under your belt as you do quality
starts.
So, every time bow touches string it's
quality sound with a quality beginning.
You should also practice int he character
and the musical context
that you will eventually have in
performance and direction.
Let's say that I have a passage like this.
[MUSIC]
This has a certain light and
capricious character.
So, if I were going to practice it slowly.
[MUSIC]
That would have a certain benefit.
Maybe I can listen to the pitch of the
notes, but
that's about the only benefit that has.
How much better would it be if I practiced
that tempo but in the character.
[MUSIC]
Now, it's still a rehearsal for
performance.
It's gonna be much easier to move that up
to tempo than it would
have been the first way.
If I practice the first way very long
slowly,
I'm gonna have to rebuild all the bow
strokes.
I'm gonna have to remember the direction
and the character.
It's very inefficient and you need to be
efficient in your practice, so
you make the quickest progress possible.
That means that in every tempo, you
maintain the character, the musical
direction, the dynamic, the amount of
expression, maybe that's vibrato.
Now, if one of those variables is causing
a problem.
For example,
maybe the vibrato is distracting you from
the musical direction,
then it's fine to cut out the vibrato when
you practice, but only for a time.
You need to solve whatever difficulty
you've been having with the vibrato and
then add it back in, so that it can once
again, be a rehearsal for a performance.
Think about that as it applies to finger
action too.
In that same excerpt from the third
movement of the Mendelssohn concerto.
Shortly after that, there's a passage.
[MUSIC]
If I were to practice that slowly and
I move my fingers like this.
[MUSIC]
Again, there's a certain benefit.
Maybe I'm getting the sequence of the
notes.
I'm, I'm listening to the pitch.
But how much better would it be, if I
dropped my fingers more quickly.
Not hard on the fingerboard, but more
quickly.
[MUSIC]
Now, again, it's a rehearsal for
performance, because in tempo those
fingers are going to have to come down and
move up very quickly to articulate the
notes.
[MUSIC]
Finally, it's important to rehearse for
a performance, because in that way,
you can get used to the nerves that may
come.
Something changes when you imagine an
audience there,
when you imagine yourself on stage.
And for many people, that's all it takes
to, to make yourself nervous and
that's wonderful.
If you can make yourself nervous just by
imagining an audience there or a tape
recorder or a, a stage in a hall or your
teacher's room where the lessons happen,
then you're gonna be able to rehearse
those nerves and that's wonderful.
If you do that, if you do some of that
every day, then when the lesson or
performance comes, you've already
rehearsed it.
You've performed the piece somewhat under
those conditions and you're so
far ahead of people who are encountering
those conditions for
the first time when they step into the
room or hall.
So remember, the higher percentage of your
practice is the rehearsal for
performance, the more effective your
performances are going to be.
[MUSIC]