DIVIDE & CONQUER
a practice method that provides structure and *almost* guarantees fast results
*results dependent on users' amount of discipline and proper execution of the method
this method is influenced by the Pomodoro Technique
DIVIDE: divide your etude/solo/whatever piece you need to work up into chunks that you'll then practice and work on for 20-30 minutes in your practice sessions over a week (or however long you have to work it up)
CONQUER: focus intently on learning and improving your small musical assignment. At the beginning of your practice time perform the chunk in its entirety to the best of your ability. Do your very best to make it through without stopping. Go as slow as you need to, but do not stop. Once you run through your chunk, find the things that are causing you trouble and address them.
If you encounter a particularly technical passage, start your practicing at half tempo. Once you can play through the passage 3 times in a row with the right notes and rhythms, a good sound, and musicality (even at half tempo!) then increase the tempo slightly. Continue this until the passage has been learned to your satisfaction.
Use a metronome, slow things down, write in breath marks, make sure you are learning all of the correct notes and rhythms. Focus on difficult intervals, finger patterns, rhythms, etc.
This is the hierarchy of needs that I address while practicing:
this includes consistent tempo, correct rhythms, and a sense of groove while playing
this includes playing the correct pitches, playing with good intonation, and making sure that all of your notes are centered and as resonant as possible
this includes adding dynamics, articulations, "feel", and general musicality
At the end of your 20-30 minute session you then RECORD the chunk of music that you have been practicing.
LISTEN TO THIS RECORDING TO DETERMINE WHAT YOU NEED TO CONTINUE WORKING ON IN YOUR NEXT PRACTICE SESSION.
I typically start my practice sessions by listening to things I recorded the previous day while I am getting set up. I use these recordings to tailor my warm-up and routine to address things that I am hearing in my recordings.
how do i divide my etudes?
Determine number of times that you'll realistically be able to dedicate 20-30 minutes of practice time to your etude. Divide the material you need to have prepared into however many practice sessions you anticipate having before your next lesson.
EXAMPLE: Let's say you are assigned an etude for your next lesson in a week. I would divide the etude into 5 chunks because I can realistically expect myself to practice 5 times between lessons. By dividing the etude into 5 chunks I guarantee that I'll dedicate practice time to the entire etude.
when to use it
Use this method to help you learn new music efficiently and effectively
This method is helpful for learning:
Etudes [Region / All-State Auditions or weekly private lessons]
This method is perfect for the beginning stages of All-State Audition preparations. Focus on small chunks of each required etude each practice session.
Solo Repertoire [College Auditions, Solo Contest, Recitals, Competitions]
Set yourself realistic goals for how much material you can divide & conquer in a week (or two). Your goal could be entire movements, smaller sections, or even just a couple of lines depending the level of difficulty. Practicing your solo repertoire in small chunks with the goal of "mastering" a new chunk each day is an effective way of learning a new piece of music that
Orchestra or Band Excerpts [College Auditions, Ensemble Auditions, Professional Auditions]