Celia Cobb reviews Andrew Eales’ short volume on the best practice strategies
How to Practice Music
80PP ISBN 9781705159613
Hal Leonard $10.99
How to Practise Music is a pocket-sized mini book, packed full of tips, suggestions and strategies about practice. It is aimed at and suitable for players of any instrument, as well as parents of children who are learning to play. The book is full of golden advice and it constantly encourages the reader to think more deeply about the process of practising music, including practical considerations about scheduling, location, equipment and the use of practice apps and journals, as well as the more obviously musical side of things.
There is a useful section on warm-ups as well as vital information about injury prevention and the importance of taking breaks. In addition there are a few short sections specifically for beginners and for parents of young learners, as well as thoughts on interpretation and analysis that may be of greater relevance to more experienced players. The book is small enough to be read fairly quickly in one go, but is really designed more as a reference to dip into and refer back to. There is no padding or waffle in this tiny volume – every piece of advice given is sensible and useful.
My only grumble is that in order to fit the content into such a pocket-sized format, the publisher has chosen a very small font, which made my eyes boggle somewhat. The small page size and font size, and the pace at which such a wide variety of strategies and ideas are presented, make for quite a dense reading experience and I occasionally found myself becoming overwhelmed and skipping through some very useful passages without reading or focusing on them properly. It made me wonder if the author might consider creating a spin-off version of the book in the form of a desktop calendar with a handy hint for every day or week of the year. Chunking the information in this way (in the same way as the book suggests ‘chunking’ as a practice strategy) would make it even easier to digest and learn from. That said, in its current format, this book is a great source of wisdom and advice, and should probably be on every student’s Christmas list this year.