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Login Forums Beyond Practicing Forum Periodization as a part of effective practice Reply To: Periodization as a part of effective practice

  • Noa Kageyama

    August 18, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Hi Tommi,

    You’re right – there isn’t much out there on periodization specifically for musicians. Although, if you’re familiar with Don Greene’s book “Performance Success,” he includes a 3-week periodization schedule in the back that’s a nice template to follow in creating something like that in preparation for a big performance or audition.

    1) Should you take complete off-days? If so, how often?

    Violinist Don Weilerstein has been known to encourage his students to take 24 hours off every week – and I don’t think he’s the only one who makes a recommendation like that. Of course, 24 hours isn’t necessarily a full day off. As in, you can stop practicing Saturday night at 6pm, and Sunday night still practice in the evening.

    2) Or is it enough to make the off-day an “active rest”, for example instead of learning new songs playing more old pieces, listening more music, watching great pianists from YouTube etc.

    3) How one should take care alternating the load within weeks/months. Do you see any value changing the workload week by week? For example Heavy/Medium/Heavy/Easy – week etc?

    I think the answers to these questions is probably dependent on why one is trying to utilize periodization. For instance, a conservatory student is kind of engaged in a kind of periodization anyway, by nature of the way each semester and school year and week is organized. Each week there’s a “performance” for one’s teacher, and there’s a 15-week build-up to various performances, etc., as well as a build-up to end-of-year juries, recitals, etc. Professional musicians’ schedules are often organized in a certain way that offers this kind of structure too.

    I think a musician who’s on the audition circuit or aiming towards specific competitions might really be most likely to benefit from periodization. In that they are going to be ramping up the intensity of their practice for a very specific moment when they want to peak. For most other musicians, it’s less about peaking at the right moment, and more about sustaining learning over time. So I think the type of periodization schedule you’d employ for each might look different.

    If you’re just trying to keep learning going, I think a day off each week makes sense, and setting up performance opportunities every so often can be helpful too. That way it gives you something to really work towards, in which case it would make sense to have heavier weeks (in terms of volume of practice), as well as lighter weeks, where you would cut down on volume/”woodshedding”, but do more high-intensity run-throughs, mock performances, or test runs in front of an audience.

    Regarding your question about dividing time between new/old rep, I don’t know if anyone has really looked at that, but my 2 cents is that I think here too it might depend on what your objective is. If you might have to keep some old rep in your fingers, it would be useful to have some sort of schedule for checking back in with it from time to time. But if your goal is to learn more rep, and time is limited, then I don’t know if it’s quite as important (though it’s still nice to go back from time to time and see how much easier things often feel when you come back to it after a break).


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