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Re: Efficient practice & things NOT to do
2/23/2004 7:22 AM
Jon Riley (9697) wrote:
I taught myself, and acquired a few bad habits - but never got round to unlearning them. At least, not consciously. I either worked around them, made them work for me, or eventually lost them over time. I don't play as well now (not as fast anyway) as I might if I'd been taught properly - but I try not to care! :-)
(IOW, technical bad habits slow you down. But they don't make you a worse musician.)
Anyway, the trick is not to pick them up in the first place.
This means, when you find some technique strangely awkward, when you could (you're sure) do it a simpler way - don't! Look up as much advice as you can on the subject to check how universal that technique is, or what its purpose is. And if it seems important, if everyone talks about it - stick with it. Don't be tempted to go for the (apparently) easy option. It may be easy now, but (if it becomes a habit) it will hold you back later.
However, there are a lot of grey areas here. "Bad habits" in one kind of music are no problem in others. Many great players have what would be considered technical "bad habits" - although if pros do it, it's called "unorthodox technique", of course! :-)
This is why I say to check up with as many sources as possible about anything you're finding difficult. It may be that the easier way is fine - unorthodox possibly, but no drawback.
But the worst habit when teaching yourself is avoiding challenges. You work away practising the things you already find easiest - and you end up digging yourself into a narrow rut. Digging yourself out again is hard.
So you need to discipline yourself to make sure your practice is as broad and varied as you can make it. Always try to include something new - and don't give up when it's difficult. At the same time, don't punish yourself. :-)
I'd advise listening to the radio or TV, always trying to play along to whatever music happens to come out. Tune into stations you normally avoid; instead of wincing at that dreadful stuff, listen critically, analytically. Every kind of music has something to offer, something to teach you.
Time for my favourite Duke Ellington quote, again: "There's only two kinds of music: good and bad. I like both kinds."