A comment came in last week about my audition advice for high school students post. It reads:
Great website. Awesome to see so much info dedicated to the DB.
Can you explain/expand on this point:
Sectionalize your music and write down a plan – I always smile when I see a student come into a lesson with a practice log and a written practice plan–these people usually end up doing very well at whatever it is that they’re trying to prepare. It’s amazing to me just how powerful a written plan really is to the practice process, and I’m amazed that more people don’t do it. Perhaps one in ten students to whom I suggest that they do this actually does it.
I have taken lesson before in BG and DB (short time many years ago). Neither of my teachers had me do anything like this. How does it work? Why type of things go into a plan? Thanks.
I’ve always thought that the very act of trying to write down a sequence of elements in your practicing helps lead to better practicing. I usually guide students through this even from early lessons. An early plan might look like something like this (perhaps a 4th or 5th grade student):
- C major 2 Octave Scale – play through 2x, 4x on each note (Lower Half!)
- Perpetual Motion mm. 12-13 – add a note
- PM last 2 lines – slow with metronome (qtr = 60) – (Straight Bow! Thumb in Center of Neck!)
- Bourree – play through & review
That way, the student is working a little technique (the scale), diving into some new material (Perpetual Motion), and reviewing the last song (Bourree). I also make sure that our lessons follow the same order and format that I want their practice session to go, and I practice with them through the lesson, not only to serve as a model for them, but to get them comfortable with what practicing actually is.
By the time they’re in middle school (7th or 8th grade), I try to encourage them to come up with their own written plan. It all depends on the type of learner the student is–some really benefit from this, while it just glazes over the eyes of others. For those who really get into it (and these are the more serious ones), I also encourage them to track how long they practice and what pieces they cover, in order to get an idea of how they are using their time and if they’re devoting their resources in an efficient manner. A more advanced plan will vary more depending on the nature of the student, but for a very organized it might look something like this:
- CM/cm 3 Oct scales/arp – 2,3,4,6,8,12/bow – senza vib
- CM shifting drills – A string – vib, cresc/decresc
- Rabbath Thumb Position exercises – 10 min
- Sevcik p. 36 #153-162 – qtr=70-132
- Bottesini mvt 1 mm.1-12 – non-vib fermata practice w/ drone
- Bott. mm 32-34 – qtr=50-90 4x/level
- Mozart 40 mvt 4 – warm-up exercise qtr=60-138
- M40 mvt 4 lick 2 – build lick backwards – 4 reps/build
That is too intense for some, so a list for a different student might look like this:
- CM 3 oct
- LH warmups
- Bott – slow pg 1
- M40 – warmup & build
Some students will click with the former, some with the latter… and some just don’t seem to benefit from any written structure at all. For most, however, I find that at least guiding them through this process helps them to figure out how to break something down and practice it.
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