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Music Beat

May 11, 2013

Practice really does make perfect for professionals

(Continued)

After all, audience members could simply buy a CD of the music and listen to it comfortably at home or in the car. The musician who performs at a concert must give the audience more than can be found in a recording. That musician must give the audience a feeling of personal involvement. And successful musicians enjoy that interaction with an audience.   

Professionals spend thousands of hours alone with their instruments, working on technique and musical expression. Most of us have our own ways of learning music. I usually try to play something five times in a row without making a mistake. If I make a mistake on the fifth repetition, my own rule is that I must start from the beginning and try to play it five MORE times without mistake. Often, I must play a certain passage 50 or 100 times using this method, but at the end of the day, I feel I may have learned that music. 

Another issue many musicians must address is “stage fright.” Although we do not show this emotion to audience members, it’s still a factor from time to time, and every musician searches for the most effective method to deal with this feeling. Some try to control their apprehensions by thinking of their loved ones, and others think of quiet, calm scenes. Neither of these methods works for me, but I have found other ways to focus my attention on the performance.

There’s a famous joke about a tourist in New York City who asks for directions from a person he sees on the street. “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer he received was, “practice, practice, practice.”

Although the joke is very old, I suppose it survives because the punch line tells the truth.

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