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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Building Skills 18

More from Daniel Coyle:  Tip #29 - When you get it right, mark the spot
 
Coyle: "One of the most fulfilling moments of a practice session is when you have your first perfect rep. When this happens, freeze. Rewind the mental tape and play the move again in your mind. . . . The point is to mark the moment—this is the spot where you want to go again and again."
 
We can look at this in two ways. When we as a conductor, get something right—a conducting gesture, a tempo, a particular rehearsal technique—we need to do exactly as Coyle says, "Rewind the mental tape and play the move again in your mind." It's one of the ways that we improve, that we incorporate something new into our repertoire of skills.
 
But it's also true for our choirs. I know when my choirs have accomplished something very difficult that they've struggled with, they need that moment of marking and remembering . . . but it is also something else—the feeling of accomplishment and pride—that I want them to remember. If it's singing a chord beautifully in tune, make sure they realize how wonderful it is, and feels, and help them want to go back to that sensation again and again. My colleague at PLU, Richard Nance, and I used to joke that we should have electrodes implanted in our students' brains, and when they sang in tune, we could push the button to stimulate the pleasure center and say, "Oooh, see how good that feels!"
 
But the truth is, it's already built into our brains. If we make our singers aware of the pleasure of an in-tune chord, or a beautifully turned phrase, or singing in perfect ensemble—we should freeze it for them, rewind and sing it again, and help them mark that moment so they can go there again . . . and again.
 
Coyle finishes by quoting Kimberly Meier-Sims of the Sato Center for Suzuki Studies: "Practice begins when you get it right."
 
And that's something we all have to remember.

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