Focused Practice

8 months ago
John Holmes

John Holmes

John Holmes is ABRSM’s Chief Examiner with responsibility for the leadership and direction of the ABRSM examining community and the development of qualifications, professional training and support for music teachers. He is a clarinettist with many years of teaching experience and has been an ABRSM examiner since 1990. John has four children who between them have taken various grades on a range of instruments. He has been entering his own pupils for exams for over 30 years.

At ABRSM, we have identified five fundamental ingredients of music-making that we focus on when we’re assessing the musical outcome in an exam: pitch, time, tone, shape and performance. These five ingredients are a handy way to focus our practice. For example, you could spend five minutes just focussing on your tone. You could have a whole week where, for the first five minutes of each practice, you just focus on pitch, playing beautifully in tune or making sure that those octaves really match. There could be a whole month where you focus primarily on shaping, where everything you do is aimed towards recognition of the direction of phrases, making sure they have a real sense of music contour and shape. It doesn’t matter which of the five you choose, as focused practice is always going to have a more positive impact than aimless practice. So when you’re struggling to decide what to focus on in your next practice session, remember the five fundamental ingredients of music making!Practise right with ABRSM Music Case. Music Case is a free practice tracking app helps you to organise and reflect on your practice, making practice time more effective. #Practiceimproved www.abrsm.org/musiccase

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