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The Practice of the Practising

The Practice of the Practising

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 91
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  • Book Info
    The Practice of the Practising
    Book Description:

    The process of practising is intrinsic to musical creativity. Practising may primarily be thought of as technical, but it is often also musically meaningful, including elements of interpretation, improvisation, and/or composition. The practice room can be a space in which to explore a field of creative possibilities; a place to experiment and to refine ideas. To date, the literature on practice has been primarily pedagogical and psychological. Little attention is paid to the significance of practice, and especially to the role of embodied experience - of understanding gained through doing - in the forming of musical ideas. The Practice of Practising is primarily concerned with considering practising as a practice in itself: a collection of processes that determines musical creativity and significance. The volume comprises four diverse case studies, in relation to music by J. S. Bach, Elliott Carter, Alfred Schnittke, and Morton Feldman, presenting both solo and ensemble perspectives.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-123-4
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

    (pp. 5-8)
  2. I. A self-study of learning the Prelude from Bach’s Suite No. 6 for cello solo: Comparing words and actions
    (pp. 9-32)

    What are the strategies, thoughts and artistic behaviours involved in learning a new piece? We answer these questions by describing how an experienced cellist prepared for performance the Prelude from Bach’s Suite No. 6, for cello solo, BWV 1012. The chapter describes my (the first author’s) experience and insights as a musician studying my own practice with the help of collaborators: psychologists who study music cognition. The longitudinal case study described here took place over a period of 3½ years during which we recorded the process of learning, memorising and giving ten public performances of the Prelude—a total of 38...

  3. II. Performer’s harmony: towards a performance of Elliott Carter’s Piano Sonata
    (pp. 33-48)

    One of the most frequently used terms within this article is the verbal formulation ‘to practise.’ I employ it with the meaning familiar to performers of Western art music: to do, or imagine doing, a set of interrelated activities on a musical instrument (or with the voice in the case of singers) in order to learn to play (or sing) a composition. Each time I use this verb, I am referring to directed effort that has the intended effect of substantially improving the practitioner’s performing. As is easy to imagine, such efficient practice is not possible without some kind of...

  4. III. Morton Feldman’s Late Piano Music: Experimentalism in Practice
    (pp. 49-68)

    In a recent article on the problems of analysing the music of Morton Feldman, Dora Hanninen concludes, “Truly to get at what makes Feldman’s music what it is, we must be willing to analyse not only the music but also ourselves—our habits of thinking, hearing, and doing music analysis” (Hanninen 2004, 228). To this I would add our habits of playing, for Morton Feldman’s piano music—particularly as represented by his long, late pieces from the 1980s—poses particular challenges to the performer, and the pianist’s response to these questions becomes significant to the experience and understanding of the...

  5. IV. Alfred Schnittke’s Piano Trio: Learning and Performing
    (pp. 69-88)

    Practice-related investigations in musicology and music psychology have tended to focus on single topics of music making, often drawing on the knowledge of experienced musicians or music students but filtering these through the ‘scientific’ perspective of the investigator. Despite certain interdisciplinary studies, such as those by Miklaszewski (1989), Hallam (1995), Chaffin and Imreh (2002) and Hultberg (2008), there is still very little research that provides insights directly into musicians’ processes of learning and performing. Moreover, the pedagogical literature on musicians’ practice is often described as subjective and anecdotal (Reid 2002, 102–103); musicians often seem to be considered magicians, unwilling to...