Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"On Practicing" by Ricardo Iznaola

At this point I've researched close to 20 books on music and about 6 specifically on how to practice. All of these books have been helpful in some way but one book I go to more than any other for advice is "On Practicing" by Ricardo Iznaola. This humble little manual is a mere 24 pages.  It's about the size of a christmas card and could easily fit in about any music case.

Small the book may be but the advice inside is the most concise and well thought out of any of my practice books. The book is described as a "manual for students of guitar performance" but there is nothing in the book that is specific to guitar and the information could be applied to any instrument. There is a section that deals with sight reading which is something not every musicians would necessarily need but the info is still useful. I thought I would post a few choice passages from the book. I promise you'll find these bits of wisdom invaluable in your practice. Good practicing.

Inner poise:
"Emotional detachment from the material being practiced. We are dispassionate and therefore, emotionally unaffected by the natural ups and downs which happen in the course of practicing. We do not condemn ourselves for the mistakes, although we realistically take notice of them. We behave, and feel, like scientists in a lab. We observe, dispassionately, the results of our experiments."

Negative practice factors:
"Difficulty level-the tendency to tackle material that is too difficult for our present level of development. The difficulty may be technical, musical, or a combination of both."

"-If one is practicing one does not continue playing the piece until one has achieved the pre-set goals for that particular fragment. Practicing is , fundamentally, a goal oriented, detail oriented focused process of correction and experimentation to improve what has been done before. Although one practices performing, this is the culminating stage of practicing and can never substitute for the preliminary, detailed work which is the true core of good practice."

I especially like this little bit of wisdom.

"Inner motivation: Discipline
No practice approach can be effective if one doesn't work regularly and consistently. One must want to practice on a regular and consistent basis. Discipline is the consequence of a desire to act in a goal oriented way, prompted by internal circumstances (non material, or spiritual, needs.) Those needs have to do with important values, like love, ambition, self respect, etc."


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