practicing for maximum efficiency

Not making enough progress in the practice room? Maybe the problem is that you’re practicing for too long–on one thing, that is. In this article on the Bulletproof Musician, Dr. Noa Kageyama explains how a study on practice techniques for baseball players reveals that practicing should be done in very short chunks of time, switching back and forth between multiple tasks, rather than in one long, singularly focused block of time.

In a 1994 study by Hall, Domingues, and Cavazos, elite baseball players were assigned to either the blocked or random practice schedules discussed above. After twelve practice sessions, the baseball players in the random practice schedule hit 57% more of the pitches than when they started. The blocked group only hit 25% more of the pitches, meaning that the random practice schedule was almost twice as effective, even though the two groups hit the same number of practice pitches.

Read the full article here.

How do you manage your practice time?

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how to fit in with the orchestra kids

If you’re a pianist, it’s likely that there’s one genre of classical music that’s still a little foreign to your fingers: orchestral works. In this completely thorough (and entertaining!) guide, pianist/composer Lo explains what pianists should know when playing in an orchestra, so that you don’t have to learn those lessons the hard way. Click the image below to view the guide!

schadenfreude

scha·den·freu·de
ˈSHädənˌfroidə/
noun
  1. pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.

In a musical slump? Feel frustrated at your fingers? Take some comfort from realizing that the greatest pianists are, in fact, also very much human. (I really recommend you click through to watch it on Youtube; the description box is full of delicious little anecdotes and quotes!)

“The pianist should never be afraid to take risks.” – Horowitz
“In the old days wrong notes were the right of the genius.” – Arrau

practice smarter

This Bulletproof Musician article has been making the rounds, and it’s a good one:

Some degree of time and repetition is necessary to develop and hone our skills, of course. But we also know on some intuitive level that to maximize gains, we ought to practice “smarter, not harder.”

But what the heck does that really mean anyway? What exactly do top practicers do differently?

A group of researchers led by Robert Duke of The University of Texas at Austin conducted a study several years ago to see if they could tease out the specific practice behaviors that distinguish the best players and most effective learners.

Seventeen piano and piano pedagogy majors agreed to learn a 3-measure passage from Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The passage had some tricky elements, making it too difficult to sight read well, but not so challenging that it couldn’t be learned in a single practice session.

Read the full article here: 8 Things Top Practicers Do Differently