[Below is a slightly revised version of a previous blog post.]
The Rhy-No Practice Technique
Student Phyllis: “Dr. ClarinetMike! The All-State Music is hard! I don’t know how to work on it!”
ClarinetMike: “Don’t panic Phyllis. Just spend quality time with the Practice Rhy-No.”
One of the most important things that a music teacher needs to do is teach students how practice and prepare music. A year and a half ago I came up with a simple system: The Rhy-No Practice Technique. Since then, I have found this system to be very useful and effective in my students (and my own!) music preparation. (FYI, here’s some of my other practice ideas and a video.)
The system is simple – just break a short passage into two parts: rhythm and notes. Work on each separately and slowly, and then put them together. Hence, Rhythm-Notes or Rhy-No Practice!
Here’s how Rhy-No Practice works:
1. Pick out a hard passage – a measure or two.
2. Clap, sing, yodel (only yodel alone!) etc. the rhythm of the passage. Go as slow as needed to accurately learn the counting. A metronome is essential, of course. Gradually increase the tempo until the rhythm is correctly ingrained at desired speed.
3. Play the notes of the passage out of time very slowly and deliberately. (If students don’t understand this, just have them play all notes as slow half notes.) Concentrate on finger movement, tone quality, note connections, etc. Repeat several times making sure that all notes speak well and there no breaks in sound – esp. “Over The Break.”
4. Play the passage with rhythm and notes combined.
It seems to help my students to sing the music as best they can after Step 3 above, i.e. before playing it in Step 4. When demonstrating this in lessons, students are often shy to sing. So, I sing with them loudly. This generally encourages them to sing, at least a little!
Also, freely combine the Rhy-No technique with other practice methods (see hyperlinks above). Also, try to include dynamics as much as possible.
NOTE: The above image is from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ceratotherium_simum_kwh_2.jpg