Sometimes we have technical issues. They may slow down our practice, mar an otherwise good performance, or just be a continual source of frustration. Whether it’s one finger that isn’t as strong as the others, or just a general need to improve our fingers’ agility, there is a four-step process that will help you meet your technical challenges.
Step 1: Eliminate. The first step in solving your technical issue is to figure out what it ISN’T. At first glance you may think the problem lies in a couple of measures that never seem to work right. Usually, you can reduce the problem area down to one single beat or group of notes, or one fingering that isn’t working. This step is critical in making your work efficient and effective. Eliminate what is not the real problem and move on to step 2.
Step 2: Identify. You should now be able to see what the problem really is. Consider it thoughtfully. It is situational, something that is a problem just in that spot of that particular piece? Or is it systemic, a weakness or a flaw in your own technique that comes up over and over?
Step 3: Use your practice strategies. You should have a “toolbox” full of strategies for practice problems. Choose two or three that seem suited to the specific technical issue you want to fix. For instance, if one particular group of notes is the main issue, try using a slow motion technique, a coffee break technique and some long-short rhythms to resolve it. Or perhaps some plain finger exercises will be the fix for a weak fourth finger. (I wrote a series of posts at the beginning of the year on Practice Strategies. You may find some helpful ideas there.)
Step 4: Review. In three days, you should see some improvement. That’s right – three days, perhaps sooner, but no longer. It may take longer than three days to completely fix the problem, but you should see progress fairly quickly. If you feel you are making progress, then stay on course, checking your practice strategies every few days. If you see no progress in three days of practice, you need to go back to step 2. Did you assess the problem correctly? Are there different practice strategies you should try? And if you are out of ideas, ask a teacher or colleague. Sometimes another’s perspective is what is needed.
A note to all my readers: This week many of you may have noticed my technical issues with this blog. If you subscribe by email, you probably received a cryptic message with a link. We are upgrading our email delivery service and our new service requires a confirmation of your subscription. If you clicked on the link – thank you! If you had no idea what was up and you deleted the email, my apologies for the confusion! If you need to confirm your subscription, you can simply fill out this form and a new confirmation message will be sent to you. If you’re not sure if you confirmed, it won’t hurt to fill out the form again. You should get a message saying you are already subscribed. I apologize for the confusion and the extra emails. Please know that I truly appreciate your support and readership. Thank you! – Anne