One of the most challenging aspects of being a self-motivated self-employed musician (though I’m sure it applies to other professions) is finding time to work on your skills and keeping the love of the art. Recently I have rediscovered the passion that made me learn to play back in my teens combined with a firmer discipline and a fairly stable income from my various musical activities. My practice schedule is now a daily 3-6 hours of dedicated practice at the piano beginning with a programme working through “Rational principles of Piano Technique” by Alfred Cortot which usually forms the first hour of my time at the piano. These exercises offer a through working of the hand and finger mechanics and work the brain to gain greater control over each movement needed to play. I then bring out the repertoire I have selected for upcoming recitals and solo spots working through a single movement identifying week area and working a lot with the metronome each piece following roughly the same formula
- Analysis for the form/structure of the movement/work
- Slow reading of each section establishing a suitable fingering
- Hand separate work on passages that are identifies as difficult with metronome gradually increasing tempo is speed is an issue
- Hands Together work on coordination where required
- Play through with metronome (slow tempo for fast music)
- Gradual increase in speed
- Break by playing through other repertoire working on memory
- Repetition of small sections adding articulation
- Repetition with greater focus on articulation and phrasing
- Repetition with more focus on dynamics considering the full structure of the work
- Being performing the music at various tempi starting slowly
- Record video of my work so I can make notes
- Repeat steps as needed!
Throughout these steps many notes are usually made on the scores which is useful for the next day or later sessions working on this music. I also try and alternate movements each day. For instance if i’m working on two or more sonatas simultaneously I would work on the 1st movements one day then the slow movements the next. I find this succeeds in structuring my practice sufficiently to keep me on track and means no part of a work is left behind. Following work on my solo challenging repertoire I would spare some time for music needed due to upcoming other performances and rehearsal commitments which is always an enjoyable way to round off a practice session.