The Science & Psychology of Music Performance: Creative Strategies for Teaching and Learning

By Richard Parncutt; Gary E. McPherson | Go to book overview

10
Practice
NANCY H. BARRY & SUSAN HALLAM

Musicians practice to gain technical proficiency, learn new repertoire, develop musical interpretation, memorize music, and prepare for performances. Based on available empirical research, we describe appropriate practicing and learning strategies that can be incorporated into regular music teaching to encourage students to become autonomous learners. Research demonstrates that practice is more effective when musicians engage in metacognition (reflecting upon their own thought processes); employ mental practice in combination with physical practice; approach practice in an organized, goal-oriented manner; study and analyze scores; plan relatively short and regular practice sessions; are intrinsically motivated; and listen to appropriate musical examples including professional recordings and/or teacher demonstrations. Students may also benefit from understanding the relationship between time spent practicing and achievement, and the nature and the importance of motivation. The old adage practice makes perfect may not necessarily be true, because repetition of ineffective practice strategies can yield disappointing results.

If I don't practice for one day, I know it; if I don't practice for two days, the critics know it; if I don't practice for three days, the audience knows it.

Ignacy Jan Paderewski,
An Encyclopedia of Quotations About Music

Practice is defined as “repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of learning or acquiring proficiency” (Cayne, 1990, p. 787). In many contexts, such as sports and psychology, training and practice are often used synonymously. However, since practice is the term traditionally used by musicians to describe systematic rehearsal, that term will be used in this chapter.

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