I wish it had come like a flash of lightning. Or maybe an earth tremor or even a giant light bulb. But really, there was no one moment when I realized what was wrong with the way I was practicing. Just all of a sudden, I knew the real point of practice, and it changed the way I learned music and the way I taught it.
What I had learned wasn’t a new discovery, just an important one.
So much of our practice time is spent on fixing what doesn’t work, on perfecting the notes, the fingering, the dynamics, the rhythms, all the details that need to be in place for the music to happen. But the music doesn’t exist in those details; they are simply the mechanisms that work behind the scenes. And when our work stops there, we never really get to a place where we can play smoothly with confidence in both our technical and musical achievement.
When I began thinking about performance, not perfection, as the real objective of practice, the pieces fell into place for me. My practice was much more effective and interesting when I could think beyond the nitty-gritty details and concentrate on the bigger musical picture.
Over the years, I perfected a system for insuring that all my practice led me to that bigger picture. And Kaleidoscope Practice was born.
In my Kaleidoscope Practice system, I identified five focus areas that are essential to music learning and by extension, to music performance. Practicing using techniques to develop those focus areas – Detail, Expression, Continuity, Control and Continuity – allows the performer to play with security, fluidity and a musicality that comes from a thorough knowledge of the piece.
I saw this kind of practice make such a huge difference in my own playing and that of my students, that I wanted to spread the word. So one year ago, I wrote my book “Kaleidoscope Practice: Focus, Finish and Play the Way You’ve Always Wanted.” Along with the book, which I published as a Kindle book on Amazon, I wrote a practice book for harpists called “The Harpist’s Playbook,” and created a 12 module video course called “Practice for the Finish,” both of which are designed to help harpists implement my practice techniques.
I have been gratified and honored to be able to help so many more harpists (and other musicians, too) since I published my book, but my goal is to help many more. So I have decided to celebrate the one year anniversary of the publication of Kaleidoscope Practice by trying to get these practice techniques to as many people as possible.
I am starting the celebration by offering the Kaleidoscope Practice book on Amazon for FREE for five days this week. From Monday, June 1 to Friday, June 5, you can get the Kindle book on Amazon absolutely free. All I ask is that you help me spread the word in two ways: by leaving a review on the Amazon site and by telling your musician friends about it, too.
Later in the month, I will be celebrating with some other special offerings, so stay tuned!