There are times when we may not be able to physically practice our instrument. Say you’re on a trip or something, chances are you probably don’t have access to your instrument but you still need to practice. In these situations consider ̒Practicing at the Table.̓
Practicing at the table consists of three simple steps.
- Step One: Think about what you’re playing. Now, I don’t mean think about it once and move on never thinking about it again. I mean really think about it. Think about where your fingers are supposed to be in relation to what’s on the page, think about how it’s supposed to sound when performed in a concert hall, and finally think about how it will sound when you pass it off to your teacher 😉
- Step Two: Physically move your fingers as if you were practicing the real thing. Remember when you would play air guitar to your favorite song on the radio? Yeah, do something like that but play as if you were playing the real thing.
- Step Three: Don’t fret it pun intended. Make the best of your situation until you do have access to your instrument.
Sometimes we really don’t have the opportunity to practice as we would like. Practicing at the table will help enable you to make the most of any time you do have especially when you’re not around your instrument.
My practices almost always go better when I have a story to imagine while I am playing.
Think of the impact that music has had with the stories of cinema. You won’t hear “Darth Vader’s Theme” and not think Darth Vader. Similarly, make your music describe a story from your life, a favorite novel you love, a story from a book of scripture if you are a musician of faith, or just make up a story of your own.
Write little sentences describing your story in different parts of the score to help you remember in future practice sessions. And if prompted, don’t hesitate to share your story with your audience if you feel it will help them connect more to the music!
If a particular music passage is giving you trouble, here are several basic techniques to mastering it.
- Reduce the tempo. Train your brain to make the right transitions in the right order; build a mental map of where your fingers need to go. Don’t be afraid to take long pauses while you are still learning a piece – you can always increase the tempo later.
- Practice each hand separately. If one hand is having all the problems, then focus on that hand’s part for a while.
- Try adding fingering and other markings in the trouble section. Often, if there are a lot of notes, you can increase your confidence and speed of mastery by visual indicators. Just like having a map can help you find the best path over rough terrain, so good fingering can help you confidently attack long passages. Once you have found the best fingering for you, repeat the trouble section slowly until you feel you’ve made progress. If you need to add other reminders (e.g., speed up or slow down, accent certain notes, or turn a page at a certain spot), write those instructions on the music as well. Learn more on the importance of fingering by reading this article
With simple and effective tools like these, you will soon find yourself playing with ease.
Everyone knows that setting achievable goals can help you in making significant progress in life. But did you know that setting goals for your rehearsal or practice session can help you in learning your music? True story bro!
Consider setting a goal to work on those pesky scales at least once each time you practice your instrument. If you practice for, at least, 3 times a week for an entire year, you would have gone through your scales at least 156 times!
We all have that one piece that we desperately want to learn. What if you set a goal each rehearsal to work just one page of that piece in addition to what you’re already working on? Would you believe me if I said Before you know it you will have successfully learned the piece that you can now wow everyone with?
How Many Goals
Goals don’t have to be very big or grandiose, goals don’t have to be large in quantity either. Consider setting goals that you know you can achieve, but that will stretch yourself as you work on it. Maybe a goal can be to practice everyday, or once a week ;). It doesn’t really matter. set a goal or two, each rehearsal, and before you know it you will be better then ever at your musical craft.
We’d love to hear what you have chosen as your goals for the next rehearsal. Share them below and share what your results were!
As we were in our various early music lessons, what is one thing that your instructor would always harp on? Was it ever about the importance of fingering your score? My organ instructors would never let me get away with not writing down my fingering. There’s a simple explanation for that too.. BECAUSE IT WORKS!
What is Fingering
Many musical instruments are best played when certain finger placements are followed. Each finger, on each hand, has a number assigned to it. In most cases that number is 1-5 starting at the thumb and ending at the smallest finger.
Using correct fingering takes time to master and will feel uncomfortable or unnatural at first. But disciplining yourself to use correct fingering early will always pay off in the end.
Why is Fingering important
One example of the importance of fingering is when I was preparing to play the organ for the upcoming Sunday worship service and I was told that we were going to sing a less familiar hymn as the opening hymn. Knowing that I wasn’t familiar with the hymn myself, I began to diligently practice the hymn. Over and over and over again I would run through each stanza only to realize that, in the hours I was practicing the hymn, I wasn’t getting any better at playing it.
It was then that I noticed that each time I would play the hymn, my fingering was slightly different, thus resulting in the culminating effect that my playing quality was remaining stagnant all throughout my practice.
As soon as I began to write down my fingering, however, immediately the hymn began to improve and each time I would play it, I would make fewer mistakes than before.
Fingering The Conclusion
All throughout my piano and organ playing, I have noticed that my piece will always sound better when I have my fingering written down than when I don’t have it written down.