Wild confessions of a professional flutist.

Practice My Way

“Practicing YOUR way takes too long.”

Most of my students know better than to make this statement during a flute lesson, but it has been blurted out with some regularity over recent weeks.

I find it interesting to note that the students who make this assertion are typically those who can’t play their assignment.  The one-week assignment turns into two, then four, then five or six.  “It’s HARD,” is the most common explanation.  Or, “I just can’t get it!”

Well, allow me to prove you wrong.

So, we isolate one “impossible” measure, put the metronome on super-slo-mo (perhaps even – gasp! – a subdivision speed), then figure out the notes and rhythms.  Once SLOW works, we go one notch faster, then another notch faster, then maybe two notches faster, and faster, and faster.  We usually get the speed up pretty darned fast before the passage starts to feel tricky.

“Aha!”  I say.  “Three minutes ago you couldn’t play it at quarter note equals 50.  Now you’ve gotten that measure up to 126!”

“But, your way takes SO LONG.”  (Said with just the right amount of pathetic whine.)

That’s when I point out that THEIR way has taken five weeks thus far, and they are not yet able to play the assignment.  After three minutes of doing it MY way, one tricky measure is now amazing and fast.

Which is longer – five (ineffective) weeks, or three minutes?  The eye-rolling is all the response I need. . .


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