Practising at the Correct Tempo
By George Vance
Practise at the correct tempo. In any passage we need to establish the correct relations among movement, space and time in the left hand and weight, speed and placement for the bow. But the coordination of these six factors is dependent on the tempo. So when we practise slowly, we are doing something, but not studying the passage in question. If the tempo seems too fast, employ the procedure "Stop-Think-Play" as outlined in the Book 2 preparatory exercise for "The Happy Farmer" and in Vade Mecum, the preparatory exercise for the universal fingering of the one-octave scale.
In a similar vein it is very discouraging to hear a student stop to replay notes each time an accident occurs. It is much more efficient to notice the accident and correct it on the next pass. If there is a problem that cannot be corrected just by being noticed (e.g., "I went too far; I will go less far next time.") one can rejoice because an interesting opportunity has presented itself for examination. The problematical passage is isolated and the student searches for its resolution.
It is at moments like these that the student can make real discoveries. One of my favorite examples is "the third solution." There is this way and that way, and then there is also a third way that didn't occur to me at first. We see that in life as well as music all the time. The proper solution turns out to be the one that didn't fit our preconceptions.
Life is short and we have physical limitations about how long we can play in one day. But when we practise we must behave as if there is all the time in the world to take an interest in the smallest detail. If you are really in a hurry to make progress, discover what lies beyond logging hours by the clock.
Some days we "don't feel like" practising. If one refuses at first to give in to these feelings and goes ahead with the work even on the bad days, they gradually stop happening. The student has to experience this waning of off days for himself to believe the foregoing statement is true.