17. February 2010 · Comments Off on But I Could Do It At Home! · Categories: Olympics, Ramble

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard that. And, “It worked in my studio!” is one I jokingly say sometimes. (Knowing full well it’s a joke … really!)

But of course we all know (don’t we?) that there are several problems with those quotes.

First, odds are I didn’t always play perfectly in my studio, and I’m guessing my students didn’t manage to play perfectly every single time they practiced a lick that they then blow during lessons. (I would, in fact, prefer to hear, “I could get this most of the time, but I sure haven’t gotten it every time!” Not because I think they’re lying to me … I suspect they are sort of lying to themselves.)

I’m watching a bit of the Olympics. I’m SO thankful for fast forward! I skip advertisements, things that don’t interest me, and ice skating that is so full of falls it hurts to watch. And there has been a lot of all of those. But of course the falling is the most difficult of all. I think any performer can relate … it’s that “on the spot” thing; you only get one chance. You can’t say, “May I please have a do over?” (No “note checks!” … my students know what I mean!) You have to nail it, and you have to nail it well. In the recording I just watched, a commentator said this:

If you can’t skate a clean program on a daily basis it’s not gonna happen in competition.

So so true.

And then there’s this:

Doing it when it counts. Not in practice. Not last week. Not last year.

Dick Button just said that (on the DVR I’m currently watching). Tis true. In the “all of it” you have to nail it in performance and/or competition. (Or audition.) But the practice is where you work on that ultimate, perfect performance.

It’s interesting to note that the majority of my musician friends watch ice skating more than other events on the Olympics. It’s that performance thing. (Of course we also enjoy dissing music choices and the mutilation of various classical works; we are mean that way.)

Martin Schuring’s book, Oboe Art and Method, has some excellent things to say about practice:

“I Could Play It at Home” or
How to Prepare a Successful Performance

You couldn’t play it at home, either. You just weren’t paying attention at home (or you weren’t nervous, or you weren’t distracted, or something). Most teachers would gladly accept a dollar for every time they’ve heard this complaint, usually asserted with great sincerity. But if you are well prepared, you can play anything in any situation, not just at home. In all of your preparation, never lose sight of the fact that you are preparing to perform something. Make the practice session as much like the performance as possible. In other words, pay closer attention during your practice; that allows you to relax more during your performances. Remember that the performance is the reward for having done all of that preparation. Prepare so the performance is the easy part. You’ll be a lot less nervous if you know what you’re doing.

I can hear some of my students now, “But I’m not performing it! I’m only playing it for my lesson!” I would like to suggest that each of you should think of that as a performance. You ARE performing for me, whether you like it or not! And should you want to do your absolute best for your teacher? Please?! 🙂

Martin Schuring’s book really is a must have. Really.

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