Friday, October 29, 2010
But the problem with many practice books is that once you read all the inspirational passages and put the book away, you can often forget how to put their ideas into practice once you get into the studio.
Being a gadget junkie, one of the first things I did when I downloaded Gretchen Saathoff's Goal-Oriented Practice ebook was find out how I could transfer it to my iPod Touch. Once I added the .pdf file to my iBooks shelf, I found that I could read and refer to the ebook right at the piano, which made all the difference.
Gretchen takes the physical set up of playing very seriously, and is a strong proponent of a healthy approach to the mechanics of playing. She spends a valuable amount of time looking at ergonomics, eliminating distractions, warm-ups, and learning processes. Her method of interspersing practical tips in bulleted form with slightly longer meditations and anecdotes helps to vary the flow of the ebook. Subsequent sections deal with a variety of useful tools, with titles such as "Practice Tools You Already Own", "Activate Your Practice With Your Animated SELF", "The Little Coach On Your Shoulder", and "Outside the Box".
If you actually spend the time reading this book at the piano (or other instrument) as a counterpoint to practicing, you'll get a much better sense of the questions that this book poses about the way you play and practice. If you decide to take the journey into the heart of the issues that Gretchen raises, it will probably take quite some time to really get the import of her words. Throughout the ebook, Gretchen's calm and guiding hand helps you towards the eventual realization that the ultimate guide to gauging your own artistic process lies within yourself, and can be accessed through tools you already possess. She also states that she is available at any time to answer your questions if you own the book.
The $24.95 price tag for Goal-Oriented Practice (available both here and here) is around the same as many competing books on practicing. Unlike paper books, once you own the ebook, you can read its .pdf file in many different ways (ie. from printed copy, on a computer, iPad, or smartphone), and I recommend a format that allows you to use it right at the piano. Compared to what a single lesson with Gretchen would cost, the ebook starts to look like a very good deal, and comes with customer support from Gretchen as well if you have any questions or further issues.
For the Collaborative Piano Blog's upcoming 5th birthday, Gretchen has graciously offered a free download of Goal-Oriented Practice to 3 lucky readers.
Here's how you can win:
Send an email to collaborative piano [at] gmail dot com with "Goal-Oriented Practice" in the title. The first three people to respond will win.
Congratulations to the three winners, Ron, Andrei, and Tina! The competition is now closed.
A huge thank you goes to Gretchen Saathoff for making this deal available to CPB readers.