Practice Tip of the Week:
Narrow Your Focus

Intense focus is the key to making real progress
in the practice room.

With focus, musicians make great leaps forward in
their abilities. Without focus, many musicians
flounder.

Let’s look at two important focusing techniques:

1. Zero in on the exact issue that is making
learning a specific set of notes difficult.

For example, the move from one note to another may be
the difficulty. Or, maybe it’s the rhythmic placement
of just a couple of notes that’s causing the damage.

In both of these cases, there is no reason to play
the entire passage over and over, hoping that the
problem will fix itself. Instead, play just the
specific area that needs the work–and play it very
slowly, accurately, and deliberately.

This technique will make an enormous difference in
your ability to play the entire phrase those two notes
are a part of. Your intense focus will fix the problem
and create a successful muscle memory.

2. Think about only one aspect of your music at a time.

You can work on a rhythm without paying attention to
pitch. Or you can make sure you’re playing the right
pitches without thinking about rhythm. Tone production
and dynamics can also become the focus of your practicing.

The same idea can be used with your technique. Try
thinking about only your left hand or only your right
hand as you play. Concentrate only on your embouchure,
breathing, posture, knuckles, balance, weight distribution,
muscle tension.

Any physical attribute of playing your instrument can
become your target. But, try to think about just one
at a time.

Both of these approaches will help you concentrate your
efforts, and they can be combined. For instance, while
you’re fixing a specific note or two, you may need to think
about the exact muscle pressure you’ll need to make those
notes sound just right.

Putting your playing under the microscope through intense
focus is a tremendous way to fix subtle musical issues and
propel your playing to new heights.

To Your Musical Success!

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