Lesson Focus: Reading the score and managing your time.
Find the music for this one HERE.
Seriously? We actually need to practice reading the score? Believe me, yes you do. In my time as a teacher it is actually a rare event that a student plays exactly what is on the page. (Also in my time as a student!) Most of the time people tend to ignore the articulations and dynamics thinking they will just add them in when it counts. I have never seen this approach work well. Additionally we are also going to explore a microcosm of time management that can be applied to longer works you might be learning. The goal is to play as well as possible practicing the minimum amount to get there. This allows time for other things like baking pies, hiking, vacations etc.
STEP 1: Look at the piece
Look darn carefully at what is going on in the articulations here. There are accents, staccatos, slurs and notes without any added articulation. They all need to be different and they all need to be consistent. This does not mean that all staccatos need to be the exact same length, they just need to all be separated and sound distinct from the notes with no staccato. Sometimes, in order to keep the hierarchy of the beats there are some staccatos that will need to be slightly longer than others to avoid sounding clipped. Decide what you plan to do and take note of what is there. This step does not involve playing the flute. Instead, use a pencil and mark the page with your decisions, making a plan before you start.
STEP 2: Decide which bars will take the most time to learn.
For most of us the hardest bars are the pick up to bar 25 until the second beat of bar 32. Breaking it down even further, I find the hardest bars within that section to be 26, 31 and 32. This may not be the same for you. Play it through and see if you can figure out what will give you the most trouble. Don’t stress too much, you can always make an adjustment later if your first decision wasn’t right.
STEP 3: Plan your practice.
Devise a strategy for practicing that begins with the hardest bars and branches out from there. There is no point in beginning your practice in the first section of this study because it is so much easier than the second half. Success in this one lies in being able to play the second half correctly. A sample strategy could look something like this.
- Slowly, with a metronome play through bars 26, 31 and 32 three times each, being careful to play the articulations as marked.
- Using a metronome play through the pick up to 25 to the second beat of 32 three to five times. Use all the tips and strategies outlined in the practice guide for Caprice No.1, review it HERE.
- Practice moving the metronome click through each sixteenth note within the beat, similar to how we practiced Caprice No. 3. Review it HERE.
- Repeat 1) through 3) as needed. It will improve each day and your max speed will slowly increase.
- Learn and practice the first half with a metronome, paying careful attention to the articulations and dynamics.
- Put it all together.
Remember, YOU are the best person to decide your own strategy. The goal is to be as efficient with your time as possible so you want to be sure you are practicing with solid intentions. Playing from the beginning to the end first thing is not efficient. Taking the time to plan your learning will save you an extraordinary amount of time in the learning process and produce a much better result in the end.
As always, I would be happy to answer any questions you might have, just ask in the comments section below. Efficient practicing is one of my absolute favorite things to prattle on about so it would be a delight to have a conversation about it. Happy practicing everyone!