I'll take your questions one at a time but not necessarily in order:chesl73 wrote: Interesting, I can see how this would work but I would say it takes a fair bit of discipline because you are holding off the gratification of being able to (roughly) play the entire section/piece by just going very slowly mastering one phrase at a time. I'm not sure I could do this but I might give it a go.
So I suppose what you are saying is it will take you longer to play through the entire piece but when you do it's pretty much completed?
And when you've done a phrase and you move onto the next, do you temporarily ignore the previous mastered phrase or do you incorporate that?
And how and when do you tie these individually learnt phrases together?
When you say a 'phrase', what exactly do you mean? Might this be a single bar or a few bars, I assume it would be a reasonable self-contained snippet of the piece that musically makes sense?
(sorry for all the questions!)
1) A phrase is a musical idea. It can be varying lengths. For longer ones or particularly difficult ones I may break a phrase up into chunks. I'll even narrow it down to a couple of notes; if a three-note passage is slowing down the rest of the phrase I will probably reduce it to just those three notes, break out the metronome, and go to work on it. Don't waste practice time on stuff you can do... focus on the stuff you can't do.
2) Once I've learned the second phrase i'll try to play the first two phrases together. If the transition between phrases proves problematic i will work the transition until it's flawless. Basically I tie everything together as i go. I'll start a session by playing up to where I left off; that way I make sure I can still do what i did yesterday. If I can't i don't move on until it's fixed.
3) Correct: once you've gotten to the end you have a flawless, performance level work.
I assure you this does work. For one thing you're devoting all of your energy and focus to a single problem, and the brain will then take that as a cue to devote an enormous amount of resources to the problem. Think of it this way: the music you are practicing just became an exercise. What I mean is: if you are working on a piece with fast arpeggios, if you're just working a couple of bars worth of arpeggios with a metronome that bit of music just becae an arpeggio exercise. Once you've got it up to performance tempo, your command of arpeggios has improved and the next time you encounter them it will be easier.
I discovered this over 20 years ago when i wanted to learn a difficult hard rock guitar solo. A friend who was a much better player than I told me that I wouldn't be able to touch it for at least a year. I asked myself the following: if I practiced the first four notes for two hours a day for two weeks, could I have them up to speed? The answer turned out to be yes, and the next four notes came more quickly. It took me just a couple of months to master that solo. A few guidelines:
a) If you are making mistakes you are practicing too fast. Period. Never practice without a metronome.
b) There is all the difference in the world between playing and practicing.
c) You are done with the part you are working on not when you get it right, but when it is EASY. Not before.