Excerpted from Wynton’s 12 Ways to Practice, from Music to Schoolwork
Think for yourself: Your success or failure at anything ultimately depends on your ability to solve problems, so donʼt become a robot. Thinking for yourself helps develop your powers of judgment. Sometimes you may judge wrong and pay the price; but when you judge right you reap the rewards.
Be optimistic: How you feel about the world expresses who you are. When you are optimistic, things are either wonderful or becoming wonderful. Optimism helps you get over your mistakes and go on to do better. It also gives you endurance because having a positive attitude makes you feel that something great is always about to happen.
”Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
How to Stay the Course to achieve your musical goals and dreams:
Renew your vision of what you are working to accomplish regularly.My students are encouraged to set and put in writing a new goal for their organ study three times/year: at the beginning of our fall, winter/spring, and summer organ lesson sessions.
Do something every single day to move in the direction of your desired achievement or goal. As an organist, practice of course is of utmost importance. But, what about those days when one cannot get to an instrument? Listen to recordings, read about composers, peruse new music, talk to colleagues.
If you find yourself drifting away from your course, analyze what is going on. Maybe the goal is too unwieldy, maybe the goal is too easily achieved, maybe you need to tweak the direction of the goal. Analyze and regroup, but don’t stop your forward momentum.
Involve a friend or network in helping you achieve your goals. The students in my organ studio are a cohort of individuals who actively support each other through email communication and several group meetings a year to share performances and ideas.
When you fail – and we all do – place yourself gently back on the path. Redefine your goal and don’t be afraid to ask for help from your teacher, your family, and supportive colleagues.
A wealth of information about a piece of music can be gleaned from examining the title of the piece, such as:
The form – Do you know the difference between a fugue and toccata?
Whether the piece is hymn based – Have you read the text to Amazing Grace?
Did you know that a word in capital letters indicates the name of the tune on which the piece is based?
The mood – What moods do the words Fanfare or meditation evoke?
Its use as service music – Can a piece titled Prelude be used in other parts of a worship service?
The tempo – How fast is allegro? How slow is lento?
Registration suggestions – How do I create a tierce en taille registration?
Where can one find the answers to these questions?
I. A Music Dictionary
A music dictionary should be something you carry with you in your music bag and use at every practice session. You will be amazed at how much you will learn by looking up one word at every practice session.
Google “music dictionary” online or visit any music store and you’ll find a music dictionary to purchase to fit your needs.
The month of March, in the scheme of things as a music student–or music teacher— is sort of like a Wednesday, isn’t it? Sort of like a “hump month”.
The urban definition of the “hump day” or Wednesday, the middle of the week, implies that you have to get “over the hump” before you can anticipate the weekend. March marks the halfway point (the middle) of my Winter/Spring lesson schedule.
With the March lessons I encourage my students to move up and over “the hump”. The really hard work of setting goals, and in some cases facing disappointment, and starting the work to achieve those goals was done in January and February. In March we will start to hone those new skills and start enjoying that repertoire! By April we will be on the downward slope to achieving the goals you set in early January for this series of lessons. It is an exciting month!
Some of the goals set by my students this semester include:
preparing and presenting an entire recital
working through technique exercises, repertoire, and online speedback tests in the BYU Organ Course
planning and preparing music to enhance worship services for Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, and Easter
improving hymn playing skills
learning the features and sounds of a new organ
preparing repertoire for the Spring Recital on
making every day a joyous practice day — a day of meeting challenges and making discoveries