They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result. If you are teaching personal safety, you might tell your students that if they catch on fire, they are to “stop, drop and roll”. Sometimes I find that my students believe that practicing is playing the tunes over and over and expecting something miraculous to happen. Like “stop, drop and roll”, I believe that when you practice you play up to a point of contention. When you get to a point where you keep making a mistake or can’t get through the passage, you need to “SID- stop, isolate and drill”. Stop right there! Take a pencil and circle it. Then you need to take the movement apart.
One of my students is working on the Balmoral Highlanders. This is a great tune, a 2/4 march in 4 parts. It is a crossing noise nightmare unless you work out the details. Doing some basic things, like ascending melody notes with G-grace notes. could help you master this tune. You do know that the sequence of moving from one position to another is different depending on the direction that you’re going, right?
If you are playing G-grace notes in an ascending scale starting with Low G the sequence is:
First position: Low G
Transition: Lift for the G Grace Note while moving to Low A position
Second Position: Close grace note in Low A position.
If I am coming down from Low A to Low G with a G grace note in between the sequence is different:
First position: Low A
Transition: Lift for G grace note
Second Position: Close G grace note and change to Low G position.
In all cases the second sequence covers all of the descending intervals. The first sequence covers all of the ascending intervals except B to a G grace note on C. For that, the second would apply.
If you are practicing a solution for these problems, the first thing that you need to do is be able to talk your way out loud through the sequences. Co-ordination is developed when your brain and hands are connected. Sometimes being able to talk your way through the problem makes your fingers move where and when they are supposed to move. After you can talk through these problems at a reasonable pace, you should start tapping your feet (I like marching in place), and do them to rhythm. I’ll be posting some videos on practicing in this manner very soon.