The Four Essentials of Daily Practice
The musician who is deficient in one or more branches on the practical side of his art, is to be found everywhere. We meet on all sides teachers and concert-givers who possess a startling technic, but who leave their hearers unmoved. Others find it easy to transmit their emotions to the audience, but fail because of an insecure memory; still another class interpret their pieces well, learn them easily, but the ragged edges of an insufficient technic work their downfall; others (and their name is legion) can readily fling off scales and arpeggios, can memorize and interpret satisfactorily, but have had no training in the all-important branch of playing at sight. It is partly true that in becoming a public performer it is unessential to be able to read well at sight, but for the ordinary purposes of a teacher, especially of advanced pupils, where constant illustration is a necessity, sight playing is indispensable. To teach without personal examples on the instrument to show the pupil "how it should sound" is a doubtful method; for music is an aural art and if the student has no conception of how a phrase sounds when played well, he cannot formulate an intelligible idea of it from the mere directions of the teacher concerning the dynamic gradations and aesthetic principles involved. To hear the passage played authoritatively carries a conviction with it that can be produced in no other way.
So it is evident that if the student desires to mature properly in the practical side of his art, he must devote himself daily to each of the four branches—the memorative, the interpretative, the technical and the sight- playing. A single week-day passed without some conscientious endeavor put forth in all of these divisions is lost indeed.
Let us never despise the wandering minstrel! He is an unconscious witness for God's harmony—a preacher of the world-music—the power of sweet sounds, which is a link between every age and race—the language which all can understand, though few can speak. And who knows what tender thoughts his own sweet music stirs within him, though he eat in pot-houses, and sleep in barns? Ay, thoughts too deep for words are in those simple notes—why should we not feel them?— Charles Kingsley.