New practice hygiene + not enough sleep = win!

Sleep-deprived from an overnight duty I worried about practice today, expecting very little progress but lots of mistakes. However, it went surprisingly well! I worked through all three pieces keeping to the following rules:
1. Clear manageable sections, no playing through.
2. Proceeding only forwards, no going back.
3. Proceeding only after I managed three consecutive accurate attempts.
4. Accuracy over speed.
5. No more than five minutes per section, controlled by timer.
6. Solid bars were combined to larger sections.

Despite lack of sleep this was an incredibly productive and fulfilling practice session with focus and progress. I’m very much looking forward to see how much has stuck!

Sight reading

More duet sight reading practice today. I’m definitely making progress: rather falling into a pit of despair and intense self-loathing every time I make a mistake, I have now graduated to cringing inwardly and continuing.

Sight reading. It seems to be 50% playing the right notes, and 50% not caring about the wrong ones.

Practice, practice, practice

My brain, it is dead. Exhausted. Blissfully and utterly thought out. I had a friend over for a practice session this afternoon and between 2.30 and 7 we played, chatted, drank coffee and played some more. Sight reading duets, simply splitting up treble and bass clef, playing the pieces we’ve been practising and more sight reading. I could almost see my reading improve in the space of this one session. Towards the end I realised that at no point in the entire afternoon was I nervous when I played and when I made mistakes!

After she left, I practised some more. My usual pieces, and yet more sight reading. I am absolutely blissed out for being able to spend half a day on something I love, with no pressure that I should be doing something else. How lucky am I?!

Practice partner

For the last eight weeks, I’ve had a weekly practice session with another of my piano teacher’s pupils, Maggie. I wish I had discovered this sooner — practising with someone else makes such a difference!

I feel much less nervous about playing during the lesson now because it’s no longer the only time where I play in front of someone else. Rather it turns the lesson into yet another practice session which takes some of the pressure off. I feel more confident in asking and taking advice and trying out new things. Being able to give someone else advice and tips (and receive them, of course) in turn seems to give me more confidence during lesson because I no longer feel like an impostor.  Instead of grimacing and sighing and approaching a minor meltdown when things go wrong, I now shrug, grin and then practice harder. 

All of this seems to change the way I see myself: Because playing and practice no longer takes place only at home (and the lesson) I feel less hesitant to say of myself that I do, indeed, play the piano. Not brilliantly, not even close to the pieces I want to be able to play, but I do.

Lastly, sight reading duets is such a good practice to just.keep.going. No matter what. Even though we often end up finishing a bar apart … even when counting!  

Currently practicing

Nearly done: Schumann Album for the Young, Op. 68, Part 1, Reaper’s Song

Just started: Schumann Album for the Young, Op. 68, Part 1, Wild Horsemen

Not nearly far enough: Bach, Prelude in F major, BWV 927