On Practice: How to Practice a New Piece
of Music
By Daniel Roest

Mastering a piece of music is a simple procedure, even for difficult selections, if you follow this time-tested process.

1.Listen to a recording, if available, to get the feel of the music, and to make an emotional connection with it. If a recording isn't available, perhaps your teacher or someone else already knows how to play it.
2.Sightread through the entire piece very slowly without a metronome.
3.Set the metronome at a tempo you can keep up with and still be relaxed and play well.
4.Isolate trouble spots (no more than one measure at a time), work on them alone, and concentrate on producing smooth connections (legato). Work at a speed no faster than you can remain relaxed  very slowly at first.
5.When you can play the trouble spots at three metronome settings faster than you have been practicing the rest of the piece, move the tempo of the entire piece up to that speed.
6.Base the foundation of your playing on relaxation. Move the tempo up one or two settings at a time, but not until you are very relaxed and play well at the old tempo.
7.To devote complete concentration to the performance of a piece, it must be committed to memory. Memorization allows full concentration on technical aspects and expression.
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