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"Zooming In"

Reflections from teaching. With my private studio, I find that I end up teaching a similar topic all week. It's kind of ironic that all my students would need to focus on the same basic thing, or maybe it's just that I get focused in on that topic from one student and it permeates to the rest of them! This past week, it was "Zooming In" on the issues.

There are many times when we're practicing music were we get to a part of the piece that we an't quite play perfectly yet. My students have had one of two reactions to this: stopping and going back to the beginning or just passing by it all together. The students that stop and go back to the beginning seem to think that they'll get it the next time, "I never make that mistake at home." While they ones that go on seem to think that the problem will just fix itself if I move past it. However, both of these share the same result, the problem never gets fixed!

What I've encouraged my students to do is to "Zoom In" on the problem area. If it's the entire measure, isolate it and slow it down. I usually tell them to half tempo. This sometimes is followed by note grouping as well; that is, grouping the notes in a manner that isn't the way the rhythm requires the music to be beamed.

For Example, a student was working on the following excerpt from the David Hite Melodious and Progressive Studies for clarinet. She was going along fine, until this section of music where she encountered accidentals. She struggled through these last two measures, and then after that, she was fine again. We tried slowing the music down, but that alone wasn't the solution. We "Zoomed In" to figure out which notes really belonged together. We came up with the solution marked in red.

Note Grouping Example

After, we played the section, 3 notes at a time, using the marked red lines. After that, I had her play it normally, but still thinking about this note grouping. She played it almost flawlessly, and the next time, it was perfect. After she "Zoomed In" on the problem, she was able to zoom out to see the bigger picture.

This is a method that I use in my own practice, and it helped me with a few auditions, recitals and other concerts. So, if you find yourself in a bind with some music, try "Zooming In" to see the finer details!

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