My Emergency Practice Plan in Action

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Emergency practice

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Somehow I lost the last month. I had great intentions and a well-crafted practice plan, but it just didn’t work. We had a family reunion, plus I held harp camp and my website has been having issues. I had minor surgery. My son moved out of his apartment into another apartment and then went to Italy for the summer. It’s been busy here, not really unusual, just busy.

But now I’m in crunch time. I have two important chamber music concerts in the next week and a half, and my fingers are way out of shape. So now I not only have good intentions and a good plan, but I’m motivated. You might even say desperate.

So in the interest of transparency, I have decided to share my crunch time practice plan with you.   Here it is:

1. First, block out 2 hours a day on my schedule. Most days this will be from 8:30 – 10:30 am. Mornings give me the best chance at uninterrupted practice time. And two hours is all I can realistically promise myself.

2. Next, list all my repertoire with due date.

Concert August 4
Ravel Sonatine for flute, cello and harp
Vivaldi Sonata for cello and harp
Rutter Suite Antique for flute and harp
The Swan for cello and harp
Italian Lute Pieces arr. Dewey Owens for flute, cello and harp
Dussek Sonate en Trio for flute, cello and harp

Concert August 11
Debussy Danses
Saint-Saëns Fantaisie for violin and harp
Salzedo Chanson dans la nuit
Massanet Meditation from Thais for violin and harp

Most of this music I have performed many times, but some of these pieces are technically very challenging and I haven’t played them in a while. I have plenty of work to do.

3. Now I set up my plan following the 40/40/20 outline: 40% technique, 40% work on most difficult repertoire, 20% reviewing easier repertoire.  My technique work will be a blend of exercises and technical passages from the repertoire pieces. This summer I have been using Salzedo’s Harpist’s Daily Dozen.

4. I set it all up on a simple chart and put it on my stand. I’m ready to go.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress on Facebook on the ARS Musica page.  I will post my daily practice plan, and let you know how much I got done. I can be sure of only one thing: these concerts will happen whether I’m ready for them or not, and I’d rather be ready!

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  • Elizabeth Volpé Bligh

    Wow, Anne! That is a lot to get through in a very short time. With only two hours of time each day, I would do a really quick warm-up and dive right into the repertoire, giving a bit more percentage of time to get those notes re-introduced to the fingers. Do you have any time during the day to think through the music? Sometimes the best time to get the brain to absorb something is right before bed, so if you read through it before the lights go out, that might be helpful. On the other hand, it could just cause insomnia. Best of luck!

    Reply

    • Anne Post author

      I’ll be too tired for insomnia! For me, I need some straight up technical time to keep my mind clear. I love focusing on my fingers – somehow they always seem to come through for me if I do my exercises. And I did want to set up the challenge for myself of having to use the 40/40/20 formula just to demonstrate to myself that it would work even in a crunch situation. It looks like it will work… I’ll let you know!

      Reply

  • Saul Davis Zlatkovski

    My suggestion is different. The best way to get in shape is with slow work, slow-motion exercises to begin with, then adding speed step by step to condition all the muscles properly. Then use that approach on all the difficult passages that lay ahead. The Sonatine is the most dangerous to me, with so much thumb action. I have an alternate fingering that makes it much easier than what is printed. You can also slow the tempo down. With familiar pieces, it is sometimes hard to know what to work on. The Saint-Saens has endurance issues, and the famously hard passage. Fortunately, many of these hard passages are perfect warm-up exercises. The Daily Dozen are quite good in certain ways, but I would combine them with the Conditioning Exercises. The first exercise can overuse the thumb, but it is strengthening and helps loosen up the other fingers. The Dussek Trio is very strengthening. And I have found that if you can get the notes in your fingertips, and feeling comfortable at soft dynamics and close to tempo, then you can lay back, and pour it on in concert. Best wishes. Bravura programs.

    Reply

    • Anne Post author

      This is where it is very handy to know yourself, and how you work best. For me, since most of this is repertoire I play frequently, I don’t have endurance issues or really any surprises. I need to woodshed the hard spots and play through everything just to re-familiarize myself with it all. And with the added technical work, that more than fills up my allotted two hours.

      Thanks, Saul! As always, you have some great insights!

      Reply

  • Eva Murphy

    What is your alternate fingering for Meditation from Thais for Violin and Harp? Gotta get it learned super fast for an informal program. It’s been 3 decades since I last did it, and I’d rather not work as hard as did the last time!

    Thank you!

    Eva Murphy (fan)

    Reply

    • Anne Post author

      Wow, Eva. I don’t think I have an alternate fingering. I always use the Salzedo transcription, just as it’s printed. My suggestion to reduce the fingering difficulty would be to split the arpeggios between the hands instead of playing both hands at the same time. That should solve most of the difficulty. Is there a particular spot that you need help with?
      Ps. Thanks for being a fan! 🙂

      Reply

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