“Repetition inevitably begets habits.”
–The Musician’s Way, p. 52
Over the course of our lives, we musicians do a lot of repeating.
There’s standard repertoire that we perform for years, and we revisit exercises to keep our technical abilities strong.
On top of that, repetition drives our learning of fresh music.
How can we use repetition to enhance rather than dull our creativity?
In sum, whatever the material, our repetitions should lead somewhere meaningful—to greater ease, higher beauty, and deeper feeling—and not to a dreary sameness where nothing changes.
Precise, expressive repetitions engender ease because they reinforce the mental pathways through which we direct our execution.
As those repetitions add up, the pathways become more inbuilt, and we expend less energy to attain control.
The Keys to Artistic Growth in Repetitive Practice
My basic strategy for infusing creativity into repetition unites habits of ease, accuracy and expressiveness:
- Build ease and awareness with each recap.
- Cultivate a reserve of mental and physical capacity.
- Tap your surplus capacity to enhance your expressiveness.
For instance, after one pristine statement of a passage, for a second pass, we might fatten our tone and loosen our shoulders. For a third run, we could shore up those objectives while also smoothing out our legato and imaging ahead more vividly.
All the while, we stay open to shaping phrases in impromptu ways so that we instill both security and spontaneity.
Over time, through artistic repetition, we practice being inventive and playful, and then our concerts resound with those same magical traits.
See Part I of The Musician’s Way for comprehensive guidelines to establish accurate, artistic practice habits.
© 2016 Gerald Klickstein
Adapted from The Musician’s Way, p. 52-53
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