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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000903.txt from 2004/10

From: Adam Michlin <>
Subj: Re: [kl] confidence in the band program
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 22:29:03 -0400


There is a extremely cliche' joke which seems appropriate to begin my
answer your question.

Tourist: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
Famous Virtuoso: Practice.

There is much truth to this joke but, at the same time, there is a bit of
irony. We can tell students to practice over and over again, but if they
don't recognize the value of practicing they wont (and I would say
shouldn't) do it. Just as our cliche' tourist doesn't truly understand why
the musician didn't respond with road directions.

There is a famous quote often attributed to the great flutist Julius Baker
(I find it hard to believe he was the first person to come up with it, but
I suppose anything is possible):

"Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent."

Are you teaching them *how* to practice? Are you teaching them *what* to
practice? Are you making sure they recognize when they have improved?

After all, what student is going to spend time practicing if they A. don't
know what they are trying to accomplish and B. don't even know how to
recognize if they have accomplished anything. If they do practice, the only
thing they will achieve is possibly permanent bad habits. They will be, as
some of my more blunt teachers have put it, polishing their excrement (I'm
sure you can surmise that they used a different word).

If you are only telling them to practice you behave in a similar manner as
the band director who yells and screams at his or her band because they are
playing out tune. Do you really think these students are *trying* to play
out tune? No, they don't hear the difference. Or if they do hear the
difference, they don't know how to fix it.

Teach them how to practice, teach them how to solve problems, and teach
them how to recognize when they have achieved something by practicing (I
consider non-productive practice worse than no practice at all!) and then
you will be able to say "please practice more".

Until then, you can tell them to practice until your face turns blue and
nothing substantial will happen.


At 06:13 PM 10/29/2004 -0700, Nicholas Yip wrote:
>I just joined a new job this semester and am finding out that the students
>in the program lack confidence that they can sound good when they practice
>and play. I love this job and am enthusiastic to be there, and I think it
>is starting to grow on them. Does anyone out there find this happening to
>their students in the band program?

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