I’m watching the Wimbledon men’s finals and Roger Federer comments on an early game where he lost an important match.  He said something like, “I’m never going to win if I just stay in my cold room in Switzerland and keep practicing.  I need to focus on the details.”  Oh Roger, right you are.  We all spend lots of time in that cold room practicing, yet missing something important.   I was practicing an etude where I have to play a scale of octaves.  Every time I played the A♭ to B♭ it was never quite right.  I’d go back or go on, but I never stopped to say WHY is this not correct and what can I do about it.  That’s the missing detail.  Seems so obvious, but like all of us, I want to play it all and keep going.   All I’m doing is training my left hand to play it incorrectly.  Over and over, now my arm (it’s actually the arm that’s making the shift) and my hand landing and making the octave space smaller is off every time because my repetition has taught it to do that.   So instead of continuing on, I need to take my post-it notes and cover up the next measure to insure that I will not continue.  Sometimes I use 4 post-it notes and cover above, below, before and after the measure so I can’t see the next notes.  Then I am forced to focus.  These are the details that need attention.  This is what makes progress up this huge never-ending mountain of celloing.   How do you notice the details and what do you do?

3 thoughts on “The devil is in the details

  1. Beth Bultman says:

    This is one of the best strategies I’ve ever heard for focused practicing. I’ve used tempo tape (essentially a temporary highlighter) but this takes it to the next level. A must try!

  2. David B Teague says:

    I turn the metronome to 60 to the time division, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenths, etc, that makes it possible to play the notes correctly with the bowing specified. Too many times I run out of bow, then I use short bows on each note under a slur.
    BTW Your PostIts will help me greatly.

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