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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

 

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