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How and What to Practice.

BY FRANK J. MCDONOUGH.

 

In the present we live, and we must conform our ideas to conditions that confront us, that exist, and shall continue to exist until we eradicate them. So the pianist should eliminate all that is not essential, and find what is best and most needed for his ad­vancement. To do this, the pupil or student should be shown what he particularly needs, by his teacher; where his weaknesses are, what he lacks; and taught the easiest and best way to obtain results sought after. But how often they are told these facts, and have not the will or the mind to comprehend what is asked of them!

The question at the present time is not “What do you know?” but “What can you do?” You will find this question put to you in every trade or profession. A pupil who goes to the teacher will find that the first question is not “How many etudes have you studied?” but “Play me something.” The lady in the parlor or drawing-room does not ask “Who was your teacher?” “How long do you practice every day?” or “What method have you been taught?” but “Play a solo for us.”

Life is too short for the average pianist to master all the beautiful works in piano-literature. He can­not learn all of Chopin’s nocturnes, waltzes, or bal­lades; but he can learn some of them if he practices in the way he should. One good composition thor­oughly learned and mastered is worth a dozen which have been carelessly studied, some parts of which have never been properly practiced, but have been hur­riedly run over. The temptation is (to one who reads music easily) to attempt to play the compositions heard at the last concert or recital of an artist, enchanted and delighted as one becomes at the marvel­ous beauties brought out by a master of the key­board. The student must be careful of the folly of attempting to play solos that he has neither the tem­perament nor technic to render; but, alas! it seems that what is forbidden or beyond our reach we hanker after. Something within our reach we seldom appre­ciate at its value.

Remember it is not the number of pieces we are intimate with that improves our playing, nor is it the length of time spent at the piano that always im­proves one’s plaything, but it is the benefit derived from careful, intelligent practice. Some one has said: “Practice is the prelude to the Song of Victory.”

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You are reading How and What to Practice. from the December, 1901 issue of The Etude Magazine.

How To Avoid and To Correct Mistakes. is the previous story in The Etude

A Thought on Habit. is the next entry in The Etude.

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