BEST PRACTICE TIPS from the Teachers at Lori Moran Music Studios…
The teachers at Lori Moran Music collectively represent several lifetimes of experience in this realm, so sit back and enjoy some sage advice from those who have guided the paths of many successful artists along their way.
From Dr. Gayane Avakian:
1. The most important thing I am trying to teach my students is that the first and the most natural instrument is the human voice. So, to know how to phrase the instrumental music - sing or hum the melody and go with your natural breathing.
2. Schedule your practicing, write and place it in a visible place. Break practice time into 15-20 min. sections, before school (in the morning), after school, before doing homework, after dinner, before going to bed, etc.
3. Parents must sit near little children while they practice, even if they know nothing about music. This motivates children to play instrument and “show off”.
From Richard Berman:
1. Go back to the wall you’re hitting rather than back further to run faster. What I mean by that is when a measure is giving you a problem and you go back a couple of measures before, you are still going to hit that wall in the measure that is giving you problems. Start right at that wall. Whether is fingering, technique, tempo, sight reading, fix the measure first. I see a natural desire from students to run back a few measures like that will fix the problem and the same wall is still there.
2. Schedule practicing like you are scheduling a paying job. Put reoccurring times in your calendar. Having a routine set up in calendar will be a reminder even if not successful at first. The teacher can only do so much. If I only play tennis during my tennis lesson, or workout during my training session, I will improve that day, but the diligence of a schedule will see results.
3. For technique speed, go up one line at a time on the metronome until you are at desired speed. Trying to go from 0-60 without doing 1-59 never gets consistent results and more effortless technique. It will seem so much more effortless, (yet time consuming as well) to slowly go up in speed with several repetitions from beginning raising only slightly.
From Dr. Barbara Dyer:
1. I believe in the “shortest learning curve SEEMS like it’s the longest”.
2. Read your poetry first; consider memorizing it.
3. Read the rhythms next until you know them.
4. Put the words with the rhythms until you “rock".
5. Next, read the melody (implies using the rhythms).
6. Put it all together and you’ll almost have it memorized!
From Shannon Kauble:
1. It’s important to have a clear goal in mind for each practice session. For example, will you work on: sight reading the entire piece, a short excerpt (like 16 measures), phrasing, articulation, dramatic expression, or memorization?
2. If you struggle being consistent in practicing, find some kind of “cue” that will signal it is time to practice. For instance, after you get home from school and have a snack, it is time to practice.
3. My teacher used to say that mindless practice is worse than no practice. If you find your mind wandering in your practice session, do some stretching or find a quick 2-5 minute chore you can do so that you can either wake yourself up, or take a reprieve from whatever obstacle you are dealing with. Each 45-minutes of intense focus, you should have a brain break for optimal concentration.
From Suzanne Lukather:
1. IVR = Initial Visceral Response
2. Translation (of foreign language into English)
• Literal word for word translation
• Paraphrase (poetic)
3. Speak the text
• IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) to
• Drill pronunciation to develop the
articulators (lips, teeth, tongue) and facial
muscles required in the pronunciation of a foreign language
• Match lyrics to rhythm of the melody
• Learn melody without words, singing on a vowel such as “u” (oo)
• Then, add lyrics.
• Listen to the accompaniment without words
7. Speak the lyrics with the accompaniment
8. Sing with all components
10. Sing the literal translation to the melody.
From Megan Masson:
2. If something isn’t working like it usually does, take a step back and come back to it later (maybe even the next day!) Repeated attempts to force your voice into cooperating could lead to vocal strain.
3. Lastly, you can practice without actually singing! Studying the language, form, and origins of a piece is a valid form of practice that will enhance your performance. “Mental practice” or envisioning how you might prepare your body and mind for a #performance is something you can do anywhere - in the car, on a plane, in a waiting room- the possibilities are truly endless.
From Lori Moran:
1. Try and find a regular time in your day every day to practice – even if it’s just for 20 minutes. Consistency and quality are better than a large quantity all at once, especially if you wait until the day before your lesson. Your brain and muscle memory needs time to build the desired habitual points of return.
2. ALWAYS HAVE A PENCIL HANDY and use it! Identify the spots in the music that are giving you trouble and mark them in your music. Then return to those spots and work them out S-L-O-W-L-Y; then up to tempo before going back to the beginning of the piece.
3. When having trouble with a particular passage in the music, try to assess whether it’s a rhythmic difficulty, a problem with diction, the tessitura, the fingering (if playing piano), etc., or a combination of these. Try to separate these aspects, then slowly re-combine them, one layer at a time, until the passage is completely assimilated.
4. For #pianists, practice each hand separately, especially on difficult passages, so you can really hear what is there in the music and sometimes gets obscured when both hands are playing. I also encourage my piano students to sing or hum what they are learning to play, to help them create a more musical sound when they play. The human voice can help us do that in a very innate way.
5. For #vocalists, always vocalize before singing – ALWAYS. Start first with BREATHING exercises, then warm up your upper/lighter register, before moving down into the lower/heavier register.