About Home Practising - Stage 2
Some golden rules for good practising
for Intermediate and Advanced Students
1. Spot the problem !
Playing a piece from top to bottom, even hundred of times, will not make you improve the difficult passage which gives you always trouble ! Isolate the problem, first !
2. Choose a little passage and work on it
It could be only just one bar ( or two ) ! Go over it several time thinking how you could improve it : " maybe I could use more bow " or " my left hand fingers are not ready to play : they are still up in the air instead of being close to the fingerboard " : try different strategies !
3. The passage you choose should be a musical phrase
In other words the passage should have a meaning in itself, it should be able to stand on its own ( Like a mini piece of music ).
4. Play it by heart
Memorize the passage so that your ears and eyes are all tuned in listening to what you are playing ( no distractions from the written score ). You will become aware of the nice sounds coming out of your Cello and enjoy the sensation.
5. Repeat until your arms can play the passage like in " auto pilot "
Your arms can learn the movements needed to play the passage and if you have trained them well, they could almost play on their own, even in your sleep !
6. Watch out for the right down-bows and up-bows
When you work on a phrase, it is extremely important to do the right bowings ( ups, downs, various slurs ). If you are a bit sloppy and you change constantly the direction of the bow for the same passage ( one time you start down, another time you start up ), your arms will never be able to learn the movements properly : theyíll become very confused, "which way should we go " ?!
7. Watch out for the right hand ( bowing hand ) !
Very often, when a passage doesnít work, it is the right handís fault !
When the left hand starts becoming too complex, the " bowing " hand sometimes stops playing , because we are so concentrated on playing all the notes. Keep the right hand moving fluently and use lots of bow : this will also encourage freedom in your left hand !
8. Which hand is the most important ?
Just bear this in mind : the right hand is the Artist, the left hand is just a diligent Computer !
9. First try the bowing pattern on Open Strings, then try the passage again
Always remind yourself of what your right hand is supposed to be playing, before adding your left hand. For example : you have to play a fast semi-quaver passage on the D string using two bows. First try two fast Open Ds to give you the speed at which your bow has to travel, then play straight away the passage preserving the same speed in the bow.
10. The jigsaw puzzle concept !
Once you are quite happy with your work on the passage, work on another one ! Then try to put passage 1 + passage 2 together and so on, until your jigsaw puzzle is complete !
11. A fear attempt to get as good as it gets
Improve the piece as much as you can, but donít get too frustrated if you donít succeed straight away ; have a rest from it, try another piece, vary your practising as much as possible.
12. Quality practise
A little practising, especially focusing on the "right spots" as I described before, is much better then hours of playing without thinking.
13. Try not to avoid the work going from piece to piece
Many pupils want something new to play every lesson, so that they can skip the hard work, the work that counts. Try to improve your pieces before going on to others : it is very rewarding to be able to play your Cello nicely and in a competent way ( and also more formative )
14. Now, just let go !
After all your good practising, indulge yourself in playing any pieces you fancy !