Practising means doing. So, this can include recording, performing, private practising.
Some classical musicians have so many performances that this becomes their sole practise: 12 performances of a concerto or sonata offer a remarkable way to develop ideas. Yet, many bassoonists have more opportunities for solitary refinement.
How we “do” our practise will affect the outcome which makes it worthwhile to pay close attention to how we feel when playing hard passages. The goal is to eliminate unnecessary tension in the body and to maintain open channels to our highest vision.
And the artistic goal is to evolve an interpretation!
At first, classical musicians always worry about ‘being right’. And it is important to worry about that because there is much beauty in the discipline, history and rigor of our craft. But essential to weave our own voice into the music that we are covering. Absolutely essential, otherwise everything is simple a factory test of current (often faulty) specs and not a one-of-a-kind work of art.
There are endless details and exercises, patterns, drills and skills to develop when practising.
And we often develop repertoire that will not have multiple performances.
It boils down to two principal approaches once I am in the physical development mode.
Runthroughs give the scope of the whole piece and the whole programme. I do them at the beginning of the learning process to get a feeling for how much stamina I need to get through the programme and to form the event in my mind, to review the narrative flow. I will play all eight concertos in a sitting to develop the foundation of stamina and technique that I want though this will never happen in any recording session or concert.When I am recording material that is different from my recital rep, then I also work to play all the concerti and all of the recital rep at stages leading up to the events.
At a practical level, the runthroughs also include phrases, movements, complete works, complete recitals (two full runthroughs in the days leading up to shows), recording projects.
Once I have a grasp of the scope of the event, then it is time to work in detail to actually build the platforms that will allow me to leap to another level.
It all takes time yet can coalesce in an instant. Just like a giant snowball that has taken hours to build, with sticks and leaves and small animals sticking out of it, suddenly it has both heft and momentum, and begins to roll on its own.
Technique, once activated in a developmental way, will continue to grow and thread out into your self even when you are not directly working on it. And most astonishing, when you are in truly top physical shape, the development can be enhanced by a day of rest from the specific challenges, or even from not playing at all. Only when you are in top shape do you continue to develop but it is unstoppable once the cycle has been initiated.
OK, really gotta go and practise now.