First, I wanted to discuss a major reason why, I believe, Noten Oughpra Ctice (not enough practice) occurs: glaring differences in expectations! We hold far lower standards for ourselves in practice time than our teacher expects at the lesson. Why this is, I haven't considered. It could be not enough detail in the written assignment that is sent home, or it could be that we tend to take it pretty easy on ourselves. I once said to a teacher that I had "run out of things to practice" and didn't know what to do anymore. Oh Boy! Was that the wrong thing to say! "Run out of things to practice?" he slowly replied, dumbfounded, "Well what about..." and he proceeded to list a dozen things I could do. He was right, of course. I was just ceasing to push myself--in no way had I mastered that music!
Sometimes we come to lessons having never pushed ourselves through the difficult sections during the week. Instead, we hit a tricky part and automatically think we should "save" it for the teacher to work out. (Which is an illusion, by the way. Whether in the lesson or in practice time, we'll be doing the work. It could make the lesson a really expensive practice time!) What if, instead, we carefully and slowly worked it out ourselves, asking ourselves the questions we intend to ask the teacher and trusting ourselves to come up with a good answer? I know what would happen: we would make notable progress! A teacher can work with that! Even if we don't quite nail it by the lesson, we've thought it through, played it through and prepared it so that the teacher can give us the speed boost we need to finally get it.
Ok, so now for the funny trick: to make proper progress in your practice time, imagine your teacher sitting there with you! That simple. As you are practicing, imagine your teacher's reaction to everything you are playing and practice it so that it sounds the way your teacher would approve of. It really works!!
This trick propelled me into a whole new level of playing in college. It all started with a picture in one of the piano practice rooms. Someone had copied and enlarged a photo of their piano professor and taped it right where your eyes naturally go when you're at the piano, so you couldn't avoid seeing "her". At first, I thought it was pretty strange that someone would do that and kind of creepy. Then I realized why....someone was trying to keep a constant reminder of their teacher's expectations. The light went on, and from then on--though I didn't put my professor's picture up--I constantly imagined how he would respond to how I played things. It was like constant "speed boost" mode!
So this week, next week, every week, when you are sitting down to practice, think about your teacher and imagine he or she can hear every note you're playing. Would you get the "stamp of approval?"