Practice and Performance

Something I’ve been noticing a lot recently is that people tend to mix up Practice Goals with Performing Goals.

The goal in performing is to play the piece at the highest level possible.

The goal in practicing is: to understand the piece as well as possible (including sound, theory, fingering, technique, etc), and to make playing of the piece as automatic as possible through intelligent repetition.

This means lots of concentrated listening, an absolutely clear concept of the sound you want, repeating small sections, figuring out where trouble spots are, creative and thoughtful repetition to make movements automatic, etc.

Yes, practicing should involve run-throughs of large sections, but this is not the goal of it. Run throughs are “prep” for performing, and a good way to spot trouble sections, but they are not the only element of practice.

In short, if you want to perform better, make your goal in practice to understand every part of the piece and play it with ease. Don’t turn your practice sessions into attempted performances.

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