June 24th, 2014: What’s the best way to practice?

Okay, well, I’m starting this a little off topic by saying the following: I’m posting now because yesterday I had a splitting headache all day (despite being productive) and because I have a late rehearsal tonight!  So, today I’m “rambling” about practicing and wondering what the best way of doing it is.  I’ve read a couple articles that say interleaved practice is better than blocked practice, so I tried it and noticed results! (Curious about what it means?  Here’s the article: Interleaved Vs. Blocked Practice (The Bullet Proof Musician)  My articulation is faster my tone responds more easily when I need it to, I love it!  Of course there’s also the article Dr. Kageyama has on mindless and deliberate practice, which, let’s face it, we’re all probably guilty of at some point.  That’s not so much my point though.

I know that an adult human has a maximum attention span of 20 minutes under the best conditions, so I block my practice time together as such.  Ex: Tone/Articulation (20 min.), Etude (20 min.), Tone/Articulation (20 min.), Gordelli (20 min.), Piccolo (20 min.), etc.  That being said, when I practice the way I ideally want to, 20 minutes on one section, take 5 minutes, do a different task (cleaning, writing, doing dishes, etc.) for 20 minutes, take a 5 minute break, practice for 20 minutes, I never get to everything.  Let’s also add into the equation that if I want to interleave my practice on pieces I have to be incredibly methodical in how I do it and that I usually wind up practicing scales and some large articulation exercises in one big 30 minute clump.  So, often what happens is I set aside a block of 3-4 hours and practice the entire time, setting my timer for 20 minutes, playing that whole time, then taking a 1-2 minute stretch break (at most) and coming right back.

I understand the question of quality over quantity, but what’s the ideal balance?  Having an hour of good practice time interwoven with other activities or having a couple hours of strong work, but knowing that, even though you’re trying your hardest, some of the practice is getting wasted?  What works for you?  What worked for you in the past?  How do you balance practicing and a busy schedule?  Comments are, as always welcomed and encouraged! 😀

P.S. Out of running for another week or so until I figure out the deal with my feet and shoes, ugh!

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June 15, 2014: Miscellaneous Life News

And I keep spacing out!  Every time I intend to write here it either gets too late, or I forget, or I’m reading, or my brain is preoccupied with some other thought and I don’t think writing here is a particularly good idea.  Finally, tonight, that’s not the case.  I’ll give you a quick crash through what’s been going on in my life!  To start with, for the first time in a while it will be mostly musically related.

So, I think the last time I wrote was in May, since then I’ve been to a baseball game with a wonderful friend (and I made some new ones along the way), run a race that set a personal record (3.1 miles, all splits were about 8:20 min!), auditioned for an area orchestra for the summer, and started to get ready to go to chamber camp in a few weeks!

The baseball game, well, the best part of that was definitely the fact that my beloved hockey team won that night and the entire city was hopeful that they would take the series.  It didn’t happen, sadly, but we came so close.  Next year at the Finals?  We’ll see! 😉  (And, seriously, it was maybe the best part because we were almost all more concerned with the score of the hockey game than the score on the baseball field…oops!)

The next day I had my orchestra audition, which, apparently, went really well, seeing as I got in.  There’s a certain level of pride in that, for me, because it’s the first audition I’ve prepped for, taken, and won without the aid of a teacher.  That being said, it does not mean I’m above taking lessons, but it does mean that I can be self-sufficient on my preparation when necessary. 🙂  Orchestra rehearsals start this week and I’m really excited.  I will definitely keep you posted on how they go!  If you want concert information comment for the time and place! 🙂  I’d love to see a great audience turn out! 😀

Concert Rep for the two concerts we’re playing include:

Concert 1:

La Mer-Debussy

Symphony #9-Dvorak

Egmont Overture-Beethoven

Concert 2:

Danse Macabre-Saint-Saens

Poet and Peasant Overture-Suppe

Sorcerer’s Apprentice-Dukas

The race I ran was the day after my audition.  I woke up at 5:00am for a 5K, got ready to go, and pretended I wasn’t at all concerned, seeing as I was supposed to be running the half-marathon, but because I got injured after I got my Zumba certification 13.1 miles was out!  I was so happy with how I ran, most especially because I set a PR (personal record).  I haven’t resolved all my running issues, I’m still not sure what the deal is with my feet and legs, as there is definitely something goofy, but I’m getting there.  I seem to be back to heel striking, at least temporarily, but I might be able to go back to forefoot strikes sometime, I’m just unsure about shin-splints with that.  😛

Oh yeah, and chamber camp!  I’m not sure what I’m playing or what camp will be like, but I’ll keep you posted and I’ll make sure to let you know what rep I’m tackling!

Keep smiling friends!  With any luck I will update tomorrow! 😀