How to Energize Your Practice by Learning ABOUT Your Piece

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Has your practice lost momentum? Try learning ABOUT your piece. You might just find a new perspective and new energy.

Does this scenario sound familiar? You have a new piece on your music stand and you feel like a race car, revving up for a lightning fast start. Ready, set GO! You dig into the notes, fingering, pedals. You are excited about playing this piece.

Starting a new piece is fun and exciting. I can remember as a young student coming home from a lesson, thrilled to be allowed to learn a piece I had heard the older students play. And still I am energized by the challenge and promise of a new piece.

And so should you be. But sometime during the long learning process, after the first glow has faded and the work is more tedious, take some time to learn ABOUT your piece. This is a great way to re-energize your practice, just when you need it.

Use the internet or your favorite musical resource and do some sleuthing. What do I like to look for?

1. Are there any foreign terms on the page I don’t understand, or text to translate?
2. Look for the composer’s picture and discover one interesting fact about him or her.
3. What was happening in history when the piece was written? Where was the composer living?
4. Is the piece dedicated to someone? What can you find out about them?
5. Find recordings to compare and contrast.
6. How about basic music theory? What key is the piece in? What is its form?
7. What does the title of the piece signify?
8. Can you find any comments by famous musicians about the piece or the composer?

This sort of information can really make the music come alive for you and refresh your feeling for the piece. It can help you over those rough spots when the practicing gets uninspiring.

That’s not to say that you couldn’t learn this about a piece at the very start. In fact, you probably should. But it’s never too late…

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