Saturday, March 17, 2012

Deep Practice

  One of my piano parents suggested I read "The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle. He is a kid's soccer coach and required all of the volunteer parents to read it to help their understanding of how skill is developed.

   I find the book fascinating because it answers the question about why some of my students come with music in their heads which they have been diligently working on at home. They show me pieces they have figured out by ear, pieces they have added variations to, and pieces they have composed. The task requires "deep practice" and I am learning to recognize the look on their faces when they enter that zone.
  They don't always "deep practice" the pieces I assign and so I am exploring how to ignite that interest.
  What is "deep practice"? These are the elements Daniel Coyle outlines in his book.

Rules of Deep Practice-

1- Chunk it up
   A. Look at the whole piece
   B. Divide it into the smallest chunks posssible
   C.. Play with time- slow it way down, then speed it up to find the inner architecture

2- Repeat it
    A. Time spent is not as important as time with deep practice

3- Learn to feel it
    A. It is tiring
    B. Get used to the feeling of failing
    C. It feels beyond your abilities

When I watch my students practice this way I see them  going over an over a part and often going back to the beginning countless times. As a teacher I have in the past halted that behavior as I feel it makes them unable to understand the whole piece. But, this intentness should not be discouraged. Perhaps these ideas are not so new to pianists but his research on how the brain reacts to "deep practice" is very new and important. More later......

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