Thursday, October 19, 2006

What is Practice? Part 2 - As Described by Others

(part 1 of What is Practice? is here)

When I questioned music students about what they thought practice was, the answers included: “Torture”; “A process of trying to improve your technical skills”; “To work on something to attain a high standard or perfection. This involves an amount of repetition.”; “Repetition in the hope of getting it better.”; and “Working at getting something right – getting better at something.”

So far, these are not particularly positive descriptions. They involve work, repetition, slogging away at the instrument for some future glory.

When I looked up the dictionary, I found that practice could be “a habitual or customary performance”, “a habit or custom”, “repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency”, “skill gained by experience or exercise”, or “the action or process of performing or doing something” .

It is the third of these definitions that many, if not most, music students, and certainly myself, generally associate with the idea of practicing our instruments: “repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency.”

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