Another habit in my students that I’ve been trying to combat has been “stuttered” practicing…Where the student plays a few beats, stalls and stutters, collects enough information to play a few more beats, before stalling and stuttering again.
I’m okay with intentional pauses, in fact I encourage students to learn music in small, isolated, predetermined sections. But within that section, students need to keep going no matter what. This way, we start to get a sense of the choreography needed to play a piece.
But of course most student stuttering at the piano doesn’t work this way. They simply sight read a little, stop, and sight read a little more. There’s no intentionality, there’s no organizing of the physical technique needed to internalize a passage. This kind of practicing yields incremental results. Intentional practice yields exponentially greater growth.
I’ve been saying to these students: “The keys aren’t going anywhere. It’s our hands that have to figure out where to go. We only have 10 fingers but we have to convince our audience that we have 88. Practice so that you can trick your audience.”
Right now, of course, the music is tricking the student and it’s obvious to anybody listening.
I expand on this intentional practicing in my e-book, “Pianist’s Guide to Practicing”. You can get it for free, just by clicking here.
"Modern performers seem to regard their performances as texts rather than acts, and to prepare for them with the same goal as present-day textual editors: to clear away accretions. Not that this is not a laudable and necessary step; but what is an ultimate step for an editor should be only a first step for a performer, as the very temporal relationship between the functions of editing and performing already suggests." -Richard Taruskin, Text and Act