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Learning Difficult Repertoire by Molly Carr

The following post is by Molly Carr.

GOALS IN PRACTICING:
1) To SIMPLIFY everything to the point where all elements are guaranteed to work every time.
2) To MAKE DECISIONS about everything possible, so nothing is left to “chance” or “hope” – and to discover what to think about at every moment, so your brain is allowed NO room to panic
3) ACT LIKE AN ATHLETE – use your time in the practice room for finding how to accomplish perfection with the LEAST amount of work possible (AKA… eliminate anything unnecessary in your body motions for complete body efficiency and relaxed coordination).  And doing this by using your brain to teach your body the motions one step at a time. If the bite you took is too big to digest, break it into smaller portions that you can understand and hold on to permanently.

HOW TO…
1) SIMPLIFY:
Breaking it down to the very basics – THREE LARGE PLANES OF MOTION
A. How do you make sound? Moving your bow horizontally. (so eliminate any extra motions besides the necessary basic motion of back and forth)
B. How do you make pitch? Dropping your fingers in specific “notches” on the fingerboard. Each note has an exact location, and your arm moves up and down the fingerboard dropping fingers into these exactly located notches. Think type-writer motion to, again, eliminate any extraneous motions as you move up and down the fingerboard in a straight line.
C. 7 basic planes of balance. Four strings, with an additional three options of double-stop balance between strings.

HOW TO…
2) MAKE DECISIONS and OBSERVATIONS ON HOW YOUR BODY WORKS BEST:
ex:
-intonation (where is the “exact location” of each note?/how will you get there?)
-left hand balance
-shifts (old bow? new bow? old finger? new finger? new plane[string]?)
-amount of bow needed for these shifts/needed for phrasing/needed for dynamics/etc
-closeness of bow to bridge (quality of sound?/shifts?/higher positions of left hand on fingerboard?/phrasing – tension, release)
-balance of both hands on 7 planes (where do I change planes?)

HOW TO…
3) TAKE ATHLETIC PRACTICING STEPS:
A. intonation ONLY
– practice with NO TEMPO
– practice with NO ATTENTION TO BOW
– don’t play a single note unless you KNOW it will be in the right place before you play it
B. Incorporating bow decisions
– exact amounts (from all your decisions in #2)
– exact balance planes/where you change between the 7 planes
-all still with NO TEMPO – only as fast as your brain can digest all three of the large planes of motion
-7x in a row without missing anything
C. incorporating rhythm.
– with metronome SLOWLY. SLOWLY. SLOWLY.
– speed up in increments, the old traditional way – a few notches on the metronome at a time.
-NEVER faster than you can control everything – you should always feel like everything is still “slow” to you, even in a fast tempo.
-no panicking.
-rely on the beat. It’s your friend. SIT ON IT. Don’t let it push you
– NOTHING CHANGES AS YOU GET FASTER. All of the decisions you made stay put.

 


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