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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000856.txt from 1996/04

From: Delton Sizemore <sizemod@-----.AU>
Subj: Practice makes perfect
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 1996 20:50:11 -0400

Some time ago some one mentioned the subject of practice in learning music.

The source of information mentioned was a study done in Britain by Prof
John Sloboda of the University of Keele. The original posting was a
bit sketchy as the information was second hand.

I have a copy of the article which appeared in "New Scientist" magazine
about 2 years ago. It caught my attention because it made me realize
what a huge task it is to become a really proficient player and not to be
discouraged when the task seems impossibly difficult at times.

I have now found the time to post a summary of the article with a bit
more detail.

Great musicians are made not born. Almost anyone can become musically
proficient provided they had parents who sing to them when they are
infants, a first music teacher who is not a tyrant, and the dedication to
put in thousands of hours of practice. Not everybody can be a Mozart but
the level of accomplishment is very much lower than it should be. There
is no evidence for gene that confer musical ability, but differences in
individuals experiences can lead to different levels of musical ability.

Musical talent is the sum of a players technical and expressive
capabilities and neither is enough on it's own. If the interest in music
lay simply in technique then a suitably programmed computer would provide
a far more reliable source of good performances.

Nor is expressiveness alone enough to make a good musician as illustated
by the many pupils described by their tutors as talented but lazy.

Almost anyone can develop musical expressiveness if their parents sing to
them during their first few years. This provides the harmonic and
rhythmic foundations of the music played in their particular culture.
The other prerequisite for expression is a first teacher who engenders a
love of music.

Technique on the other hand must be built up through hours of painstaking
practice. It has been observed that the best violinists at the Berlin
Conservatoire were those who had notched up more than 10,000 hours of
practice by age 21, twice as many as the less able performers at the same
institution. Pupils can be coaxed into harder practice once they have
caught the "music bug".

In Britain today there are too few parents who sing to their children and
too many teachers are tyrants. " A lot of teachers get heavy about
practising hard and achieving rather than teaching their pupils to
appreciate and love music. A lot of what teachers do turns kids off for
life because they turn practise into a chore."

In the early years of tuition lessons should never last more than 30 min
and should always be fun. The hard work can begin once kids are "hooked"
and teenage prodigies should expect to do at least 2 or 3 hours practise
a day.


I hope this stimulates a bit of discussion amongst those of you who teach.
Hopefully not too many tyrants!!!!

Del Sizemore

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