Your instrument should be an extension of yourself… We hear that all the time, and it sounds like a magical solution to our performance problems. How do we get to the point where our instrument feels like it is part of our very self? The answer is so very simple - but not magically easy. There’s no mysticism - the answer is the same as it ever was when learning anything …
After about a year of dabbling with the treble recorder I’m thrilled to be learning about the heritage of the instrument and to now be able to start looking into more authentic music appropriate to the instrument. In the very beginner stages its enough to be able to play any music but now I’m really enjoying getting more into the heart of the instrument and playing music that is more suitable to the heritage of the recorder. Authentic music, true to the composer’s original intent, is almost an impossibility - but we can have a good idea!
Scales, arpeggios and technical exercises get bad press and we often think of them as ‘bad medicine’ which must be taken, or a ‘bolt-on’ extra when learning an instrument. However, this is a sad state of affairs and we are missing so many of the benefits our playing might gain, and also the opportunity for some calm therapy whilst sitting at our instrument. It’s time to give these matters our proper attention.
Good habits and bad habits - we all need help to keep the good and lose the bad! We are often advised to get an accountability buddy to help us stay on track. Why not find practice partner to keep us focussed in our music too? It could be as simple as a piece of paper or a kind friend, right through to mobile phone apps - there are lots of tools which can help us achieve what we are aiming for. Work your plan, then plan your work - and have some oversight to keep you on the right lines.
Exams are a great way to focus your practice and to give objective feedback on your musical development. However, which exam should you take? Should you take the performance exam remotely or attend an exam venue? Also, should you take every single grade - whether theory or practical? It’s a good question! No single answer can satisfy such a question, every person’s situation at that time is difference. The most important thing is to be prepared - then you have can choose what best suits you at the time.