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Mastering difficult tasks

All tasks, including reading or playing music, have varying degrees of difficulty.  You may find some things easy and some portions of the same task difficult. When learning a new musical piece, it is most effective to play through the entire piece to the best of your ability without stopping.  This way you get to see where the difficult parts and easy parts are.  Once you have determined the difficult parts, play them as slowly as you need to play them and still be able to read through them without stopping, from beginning to end of the difficult part. If necessary, break it down into phrases. 

 

If it is a matter of not being able to play it because the fingering is too difficult, break it down into smaller components.  Let's say you have 4 consecutive difficult measures. Break it down into 2 measures and loop those measures until you can play them flawlessly without stopping.  If those two measures are difficult, break it down into one measure.  If that is difficult, break it down into smaller note groups until you can play through that group without stopping and with no mistakes. Repeat the process until you can connect all of the parts and play through them without stopping without mistakes. 

 

When you can play all of the difficult parts, play through the entire piece at the slowest tempo that you need to go to be able to play it without stopping.  You can make mistakes, but try to maintain the pace without stopping to fix your mistakes.  Once you can play it without stopping, your next goal is to play it ridiculously slow, medium, and fast, all at a steady tempo.

 

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