30 Practice Prompts for Musicians Day 29–The bigger picture

Play or sing through one piece or song without stopping, no matter how many mistakes you might make. If you’re a beginner and you don’t have a whole piece yet, just play through everything you have learnt so far. Focus on connecting the dots to a whole. Keep the flow going.

30 Practice Prompts for Musicians Day 28–Buildup and Decay

We’ve looked at beginnings and endings. What happens in between? Try different ways of building up and reducing tension in a phrase. Pick a passage from your repertoire. Where are the peak points? Where does energy build up and where does it dissipate? Play around with that. Look at tempo, dynamics, articulation, phrasing.

30 Practice Prompts for Musicians Day 27–Transitions

How do you join phrases or musical parts together? How do you contrast them? Take a look at a passage that consists of two or more phrases, and pay special attention to the transition. If you’re a singer, that could mean looking at how you hold tension across a breath between two adjoined phrases or prepare in time for the transition into a new musical part.

30 Practice Prompts for Musicians Day 26–Emotion

Play something as expressively as you can today. Put in all the emotion you can. Get messy in the process. Let it be raw and immediate. Then take a step back and reflect: Are you so absorbed in your emotion that your musicianship is actually impeded? Does your experience hamper your connection to your audience, or does it give your music life and meaning? Or does your performance usually lack expressivity? What level of emotional intensity is appropriate in your musical practice? Do you connect with your audience on a direct, authentic and intense level of emotion? Or do you interact with listeners on a more abstract and intellectual level? There is no right or wrong answer for that – a Bach concerto is not a Hardcore song! What is your appropriate balance between emotional expression on one hand and musical and technical accuracy on the other hand?

30 Practice Prompts for Musicians Day 25 – Research

Read up on a piece you’re practicing. Which period is it from? Where does it fall in its creator’s oevre? What’s the genre? In what setting did it used to be performed? Is there anything noteworthy about the genesis or the context of the work?

If it’s your own work, answer those questions for yourself. Write your own concert guide entry.