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A Guide to Practicing All-State Etudes James Boldin, Assistant Professor, The University of Louisiana at Monroe These ideas are meant to help you as you prepare etudes, but they can be applied to alltypes of literature; (solos, etudes, large ensemble music, etc.). 1) Play through the etude from beginning to end S-L-O-W-L-Y. Use a metronome, and pick a tempo that will allow you to play everynote, rhythm, articulation, and dynamic precisely. If the etude is very technical, this initial first reading will go extremely slowly. Avoid the temptation to race through the easy parts and slow down inthe difficult passages. If you find yourself losing concentration, it is OK to stop and regroup during this first reading. 2) As you sight-read the etude, take note of the areas that give you themost trouble, perhaps even stopping to put a star or check by those places. 3) After the first reading, begin your practicing by systematically working through those passages that gave you problems. Hereare some guidelines as you work these passages. a) Practice slowly, then gradually speed up the metronome towards your target tempo. This method really works! b) Pay special attention to unusualintervals, rhythms, and dynamics. These are the places where judges will be most critical. (Avoid neglecting the rest of the etude though!) c) Other strategies include changing the rhythm of a difficultpassage, working backwards through a passage measure by measure, adding one note at a time as you practice, and many more. Be creative in your practicing! d) No matter what practice strategies you use,make sure that you can play each difficult passage correctly many times (at least 3 in a row) before going on to another passage or speeding up the tempo. 4) Once you have worked out the difficultpassages, you can then integrate them with the rest of the etude. Continue to take note of problem areas, and stop to work on them if they continue to cause you difficulty. 5) When preparing for an...
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