Practice Slowly, an excerpt from “The Student’s Corner” by Arne Sahlen.

Adele Bosse Morgan, Music Director of STE, talks about this article in her Music Director’s Message in the February Scroll. Please enjoy the article and see Adele’s comments on it in upcoming February Scroll!

“Slow practice!  Teachers harp on it, and for good reason.  Slow playing is not just the absence of fast playing; it opens up your mental space for intense focus.  As a habit it will reap many rewards:  co-ordination, proper fingering, expressive detail, true memory security, and more.
Watch a video segment in slow motion.  See how much detail you notice?  Watch yourself playing a passage slowly;  details are much clearer and easier to follow and remember than when playing at speed.
‘Practice 75% of the time at 25% of the tempo,’ said the late Phyllis Schuldt, a wonderful piano teacher from Vancouver.  Your brain can absorb in fine detail, your muscles gain confident control without stress and strain, and your memory skills may improve dramatically.
In computer programming, whether simple or complex, information must be entered one bit at a time.  Fast, sloppy work invites disaster.  In music as well we must take time to program our mental computers carefully.
Slow practice also prepares you for easy playing up to speed.  If we force the tempo too soon, muscle memory may lock on feelings of tension; then in performance the muscles tend to find that state, no matter how much we try to relax.  After may slow and easy reps, you may find that you can ‘time warp’ up to speed with easy knowledge and control – or increase the speed gradually and trick yourself into playing quickly and easily.
Best of all, slow practice gives you time and space for details; articulation, phrase shape, dynamics, and so on.  Your performance will be richer, more convincing and expressive – your true artistic voice.  Practice slowly!”