One of the more common comments I give my students are variations on "Make sure you don't lose sight of the forest for the trees". In the detail-oriented world of learning to play an instrument, we are constantly learning to integrate things such as rhythm, pitch, phrasing, coordination, physical movement, style, and pedaling, to name only a few. It is all to easy to get bogged down in the details and completely lose sight of the final product, and musicians of all instruments, ages, and levels are susceptible.
Which is why I recommend that students, once they have a certain proficiency at playing a certain work, might want to consider running the entire piece twice per session. Here's how it works:
1. Run the piece, making mental note of where the problems are.
2. Take the piece apart, remembering to spend some time on the parts that didn't go well in the initial run.
3. Run the piece again.
What can be frustrating about this method is that often the second run won't show any noticeable improvement over the first. After storming around your practice studio for a few moments, just take note of what didn't go well and work on those details at the next practice session when you use the same approach. Over the course of weeks and months, the piece will show improvement and you will feel much greater comfort in performance (where you only get once chance), since running the piece will have been already internalized.
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