|if it is, it becomes of no value at all. Naturally, it is
in connection with the dry, but necessary, purely technical exercises that
this warning is so essential. The object of whatever exercise is to be
practised should be clearly pointed out, and the correct way to deal with it
indicated ; otherwise the pupil is working more or less in the dark. He must
know what he is supposed to be trying to do.
When it is felt desirable to start a pupil on technical exercises, he
should, as already stated, be clearly told why they are necessary, so that
however dull they may appear, he may feel that by their practice he can hope
to achieve something worth while. If this is not done, mechanical practice
of them is almost inevitable. The pupil must be using his brains all the
time and have a definite object in view.
In the early stages of working at a piece or study it should be practised
in small portions. Continuous playing straight through is quite useless, as
however carefully the pupil may try to note errors as he goes along, he is
sure to have forgotten the greater number of them before he comes to repeat
the offending passages. Only a few bars should be taken at a time, and each
little section should be fairly well mastered before the next is attempted.
A comparison with learning poetry will help pupils to realise the necessity
for this procedure. If one wishes to memorise a poem, one does not attempt
to do so by merely reading the whole piece through several times : two or
three lines are studied at a time -enough, but not too much, for the mind to
take in. Then a few more lines, followed by a repetition of the whole from
the beginning, and so on, following the same procedure throughout. Unless
one has a phenomenal memory it is impossible to memorise the poem by reading
it straight through. Similarly in learning a piece of music. Whether it is
ultimately completely memorised or not, it must be realised that the very
fact of learning it at all (i.e., attaining a reasonable amount of fluency
and facility) implies at least partial memorisation, so that the same method
is needed as in the case of learning poetry. If the piece is worked through
in sections of, say, four bars at a time, the player will be able easily to
remember the various traps and difficulties. When a fair amount of accuracy
and certainty are achieved, the piece may be taken in its entirety, with the
object of getting a good and coherent reading of it.
Practice may be divided into two kinds
(a) for accuracy ;
(b) for performance.
In the former stops may and should be made for errors ; in the latter
they should be avoided except in case of real need. In " accuracy practice "
no error, however small or seemingly unimportant, should be passed over :
what may at first seem to be a mere slip may very easily develop into an
habitual mistake, and cause much trouble before it is finally eradicated.
Some teachers seem to recommend not stopping immediately for mistakes such
as wrong notes, on the ground that the rhythm is broken. To the writer's
mind it is much more important to correct the mistake immediately, while it
is still clear in the mind.
To be continued