Day 43, Margins of Error

Quasi day-off?  Practice: 2.5, Rehearsal: 1.5,.  By comparison to every other day when I have to get up at 7am to practice at 8am, today was leisurely.  I slept in and didn’t do any grueling hikes.  I took care of a lot of small errands and sight-read fluffy woodwind quintets.  Not a bad way to spend a Monday.

Thought about creating small margins of error.  This all started when a friend suggested practicing without the register key to help aid in finding a better voicing.  This is a brilliant idea because it creates a very small margin of error in voicing.  Once you’ve found it and use the register key again, the transition between partials is like butter.

The idea of intentionally creating very small margins of error has also come up in mouthpiece selection.  People sometimes talk about better equipment being like a smaller tennis racket.  Sure it’s smaller so the accuracy needed is much greater, however once you hit the sweet spot it pays dividends.  Using a larger more amateur tennis racket gives you a wider margin of error (allowing for sloppy technique) but can’t deliver the power or precision of a pro racket.  Of course everybody has their own opinion about which clarinet mouthpiece is the “pro racket” but it’s a neat idea.

In reading The Talent Code, the examples of talent hotbeds all share a common trait: practicing in scenarios with very small margins of error.  Skateboarders practicing in swimming pools, Brazillian soccer players practicing in small basketball-court sized rooms, the Bronte sisters writing dozens of short novels in quick succession.  I’ve been thinking about how I can create the same thing.  My instinct is that the first step is to isolate the issue and create a small game out of it.  Like inventing your own etudes centered around the issue.  There’s still more to do with this idea though…  Technical margins of error are easy to focus on and find.  What about musical ones?  More food for thought.

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