Last week I gave some tips on how to start your journey with a new piece of music.
This week I’d like to talk about the second important question when planning a (musical) journey: how will you reach your destination?
This involves two aspects: the time you need to get there and the way you want to get there.
The time you need to get to your destination will determine when you have to leave. If I want to go to the baker on the corner tomorrow morning, I will get there in no time. Even a trip to London is doable by tomorrow afternoon, providing there is a plane or I can leave immediately by car. If I wanted to be in Australia tomorrow…I can probably forget about it, that won’t be possible.
This is a metaphor we could apply for planning your new piece.
Choose a piece that is similar to what you can already play and you will be able to learn in it a short amount of time; maybe you already know all the techniques involved in the new piece, or it’s a piece that is easier than the things you can already play. You will always need a little time to prepare to be able to play something well, but it might be realistic to prepare an easier piece for a performance in two weeks’ time.
It is of great importance to choose a piece according to the time you have to study for it. If you are studying a new piece with the goal of performing it, make sure you plan enough time to study the piece well and don’t try to plan a concert too soon.
The second aspect of planning is the way you will be making your journey. I can try to take a plane, but I will need to get to the airport first and I’ll need the right documents to get to a different country. And of course I’ll need to be able to take a plane in the first place.
It’s hard to just up and leave without any planning and the same goes for studying a new piece. Before you start your piece, try to think of some methods you can use to study. Play the piece through and try to assess which parts will need a lot of work, and which parts will be done in little to no time. Maybe there are parts where you will need to think of which fingering to use (for harpists, for example) Other parts might be good to study with metronome, so you can make sure you will get the required tempo (or make sure you don’t play too fast). Maybe you need some extra exercises for a certain technique, independent of your piece. Keep enough time in your time-table to study the difficult parts.
Lastly, don’t forget that travel includes waiting in the airport. The same goes for your musical journey; for the best results, make sure to leave enough time to let your piece grow while not studying it intensively.
If you’d like to get hands on help with studying, you’re welcome to join the workshop on March 19th.