Construction WorkImage by gullevek via Flickr

This is Step 3 of “The ABC’s of Practicing,” I suppose. Now that you’ve learned each section of your piece, how can you get it all together so you can play it?

Are all the separate sections the same tempo? (Not necessarily performance tempo.) If some sections are slower than others, you’ll be a lot happier if you fix that now. A smooth performance requires that there’s nothing you need to slow down to negotiate.

That includes ornaments, by the way.

Have you looked and listened for glitches? The chief candidate for top of the list may be going from the end of one staff to the beginning of the next. Page turns are also at the top of the glitch list. If you learn them now (end of 1st page, beginning of 2nd), you’ll deal better when you put the entire piece together.

Being able to proceed from one section to the next will be your new focus. Try starting at the end of the 1st section (last phrase), then continue through the 1st phrase of the next section. This may bear repeating a few times, since it’s new.

Starting at the beginning of the piece is not going to help here. How will you still be alert for the transitions on the last page?

So practice the transitions. Then try going backwards. You could start just before the last section, then play to the end. Then back up one more section and see how that sounds.

If certain problems appear, don’t be afraid to take those spots out of context, work on them, and put them back into the piece. Doing this will save you time. Remember, you don’t want to reinforce mistakes.

Also, try to remember that even though you’re doing construction work right now, this is music. You can be as expressive as you intend to be. Saving that for later will result in sounding like the expression was, well, pasted on at the end.

You may want to start your practice session with the piece you’re pulling together for a few days, or every other day. Your focus is most acute at the beginning of your practice time. You’ll know when you can move your new piece to a later spot on your list. Your cue will be that you feel more comfortable with the entire piece.

Today I practiced 2 Bach preludes & fugues and 1 Messiaen prelude. Since it’s still HHH out (and in), I gave it an hour and 1/2.

Happy practicing!

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