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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Quick Practice Idea: Backwards Day!

How about a Backwards Day? I find this particular practice tip useful to get out of the rut of practicing the same way from beginning to end, from left to right, from top to bottom. As is typical with most of my students, the first parts of everything in a song, as well as the song itself, are always in better shape than the later parts, hence my creation of the "backwards day."

Here is how it works. Identify a spot that you need to work on. Perhaps it is just a tricky passage or phrase. Then start from the end of the phrase and work backwards. Take the last little bit of the passage and work that through a few times until it feels easy. I ask my students to do a repetition of at least 4 times (sometimes more, but at a minimum 4). Then we back up a few notes from that spot and work that area. Notice that when you do this, you tend to play the section you previously practiced as well, giving it an added practice boost. This extra practice and repetition does not usually occur in our normal practice routine.

Continue working back a few steps at a time until you complete your practice of the passage you identified. If you are working through a song, then start with the last section of the song and work through that section. Then back up and work the section previous to the last section. Continue on in this manner until you have reached the beginning of the song or the place where you wanted to finish.

I have successfully used this technique to help students get over the hump of learning the tricky endings in the phrases of Becker's Gavotte (book 3, #5), the Vivaldi concerto "swamps," and numerous other spots throughout the Suzuki repertoire.

So today, let it be "backwards day"!

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