Dear IMTA Members,
I am always thinking of ways to guide my students to learn music musically. How can I assist them to develop practicing habits for a musical performance? What is the very first practicing habit my students need to learn to make music musical? Is it posture, hand position, rhythmic stability, note and finger accuracy, pattern recognition, phrasing, or musical analysis? What are the other important practicing habits that need to become second nature during my students’ practicing?
As a young pianist prior to college, my practicing habit was to learn notes, rhythms and fingerings. As soon as those were established I went on to “making music.” Upon entering college, my piano professor told me to make music the first time I looked at a piece of music. I thought he was kidding – I always learn notes, rhythms and fingerings before I make music. Lesson by lesson, he guided me to study and hear a score before touching the piano – to analyze a score musically and theoretically. He taught me to ask questions of the score. What is the meter at the beginning, the middle and the end, what are the large parts, where are the repetitions, the variations and the contrasts, where is the climax, what moods are conveyed, and is this phrase a question or an answer? From there he encouraged me to carefully practice the score by including accurate readings of the notes, rhythms and fingerings, while making beautiful phrase shapes, interesting colors, rhythmic and metric vitality, and architectural sense of the piece.Continue reading