This is the start of a small series about tips and useful habits for an effective practice session. These are not meant to be long-kept secrets but more of a friendly reminder.
Today we start with tip number 1: Always practice at the tempo where you make least mistakes. Or: Slow but steady wins the race.
This one seems a bit redundant and vague, but what I mean with it is, that it’s always better to play at a low tempo (30-50% of the original speed) and make few mistakes. Compared to playing at a higher tempo and making fare more mistakes. When you play through your piece with few mistakes, your brain can focus on remembering other things like fingering, and timber.
It’s recommended to use a metronome to adjust the speed. Actually… Just get used to practising playthroughs with a metronome to correct mistakes in your timing and sightreading. Do you want to know which good mechanical metronomes there are? Take a look here: The Best Mechanical Metronomes
It’s especially important to get your first playthrough as perfect as possible. If you play a piece slow, and careful, your understanding and memorization of the piece start at a higher level. When you play fast and make more mistakes, your brain needs to “correct” these wrong notes, in the next playthrough. The fewer mistakes are made the better is our brain at focusing on remembering different, but evenly important aspects of the piece.
If you want to learn effectively, play careful and accurate, even if it’s at a slow tempo. Playing at a slow tempo can get tedious and boring, but the results often outweigh the tiresome exercise.
Ps. don’t set the tempo to low. It’s always good to feel a bit challenged, that’s where we make the most progress.
Have a great week!