Last year I made the list of the 10 most useful things I learned - I think they bear repeating (see end) but this year I'm going to do a round up of the 5 things I accomplished this year (and what got me there)
1. I got to play in public. This was a big deal. Before then I rarely managed to play for anyone without collapsing with nerves. It took a series of steps, the initial one (I would never have thought of) suggested by my teacher - ie practicing playing a piece through in lessons very, very slowly. Over several weeks I was able to ramp up the speed until I was actually playing it at tempo in lessons, then in online masterclasses and finally in an open mic. It's still not great, but the most useful thing is I really did get used to making mistakes and continuing to play - and not getting too bent out of shape about it.
2. I passed my level 3 certificate (grade 6). This involved working on pieces for months not weeks, and running the entire set every day for weeks before recording it.
3. I got really comfortable using the phone as a practice tool. Record - listen - did I actually get the tempo steady or am I still speeding up? Can anyone else apart from me hear the dynamics?
4. I started to play duets - first with my teacher, then with other players. I played a duet at the open mic at 2 summer camps, and recently got asked by others, so I'll be working on this in the coming year. I enjoy duets, it is a change from solo practice, it's not quite so stressful to play in public (though it's stressful enough) and the final result can be more complex than a solo at my level would be.
5. I signed up for music classes at our local university. This involved getting over the feeling that I wouldn't be good enough, and just giving it a try - they say turning up is 90% of the battle, so I'm showing up in January 😄 - just theory at this point, but you never know...
And here is last year's list of the most useful things I learned with a few tweaks...
1. Sometimes the
2. Work out the fingering and write it in.
3. Playing super slowly really helps with memorization AND errors.
4. Don't ignore the score after you've memorized the piece
5. Practicing things 4x in a row correctly before moving on
6. If you can't seem to 'get' the LH fingering, check the RH!
7. Start learning the dynamics and articulation sooner
8. If it's not working after a number of iterations, rework it.
9. Recording yourself is really really really useful. YEP!
10. Work up pieces until they are solid enough that they don't fall apart under performance pressure - that means playing them super slowly without getting lost, playing them with eyes closed, visualizing, whatever it takes.