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Value of Slow Practice

  1. Starting from the beginning of your piece, play everything in slow motion: every note, every phrase, and every measure. Play with hands separate.
  2. Once the player is familiar with the technical challenges inherent in a particular piece, practice the notes slowly but move between them at the speed required at full tempo. This means shifting as fast as one would at full speed; and arranging one's hand and fingers in the correct position for the next phrase. Always read at least a beat ahead – if not a measure or more. 
  3.  Most importantly, if a pianist plays with poor posture or poor technique, he or she runs the risk of habits that affect the quality and musicality of the piece. Even the most aware performers should check their playing alignment every day. Slow work to that end can shed light on bad habits, which would otherwise go unnoticed. Some things to keep in mind are a straight back, feet flat on the floor for stabilization, elbows slightly out from the body, and wrists level with fingers curved. Sit one arm’s length from the piano. 
  4. To learn phrasing, one must attend to details: fingering notations, loudness, softness, lifts after each slur, time signature. Play each phrase slowly with attention to these details. 
 Slow practice accelerates learning by reducing time spent unlearning mistakes acquired from fast, inaccurate practice, and slow practice produces a beautifully played piece.

Growing Pains in Nature's Music Schedule

Each child is different and will react to nature's music schedule in his/her own way. In gcneral, however, a large percentage of children tend to follow developmental pattern depicted in this graph. (Reprinted from pamphlet: THIS BUSINESS OF MUSIC PRACTICING, or, How Six Words Prevented A Dropout, by Sidney J. Lawrence. 1968, Workshop Music Teaching Pub., Hewlett, N.Y.)
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