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Practicing for Artistic Success: The Musician's Guide to Self-Improvement.

Practicing for Artistic Success: The Musician's Guide to Self-Improvement, by Burton Kaplan. Perception Development Techniques (P.O. Box 421, Morris, NY 13808), 2004. 105 pp. $23.95.

Practicing for Artistic Success is a book every instrumental musician should read. Burton Kaplan promotes effective and productive practice habits by offering fresh, invigorating directives that will inspire you to put this book down and start practicing immediately. Under its cover are answers to such burning questions as, "Is it possible to practice too slowly?", "When is repetition appropriate?" and "How do I decide which aspect of the music to work on?" Kaplan's responses will help one avoid pitfalls like practicing with useless repetitions, mistakes and negative inner dialogue.

Kaplan has spent nineteen years conducting Practice Marathon Retreats, and many consider him the foremost authority on practice pedagogy. His views center on the musician learning to self-manage his or her practice time. Many musicians currently adhere to certain practice criteria. This may include practicing for a predetermined amount of time per day or utilizing the metronome to improve rhythm. Kaplan takes this idea many steps further. He explores such topics as when to take a break from practicing, how to appropriately divide practice time and how to accurately assess progress. He also includes his own practice strategies to improve memory, intonation and many other performance aspects. All of this leads the musician to the ultimate goal of attaining better results with less effort.

Kaplan divides the text into two main sections: the first part lists procedures the musician can follow to self-manage his or her own practicing, while the second section addresses practice techniques to improve various features of the musician's performance. Kaplan covers a tremendous amount of material in a mere 105 pages, making this a manual you will refer to time and time again.

This sophisticated book is appropriate for professional musicians, teachers and advanced students. The well-organized table of contents supports easy access to text concerning a specific practice problem. In addition, Kaplan guides readers throughout the book to other sections helpful for the problem at hand. Be warned though; this book should not be considered a "quick-fix" for any and all practice problems. If you are to take great strides in improving practice habits, establishing the changes Kaplan suggests may take weeks or even months. This is an invaluable book for musicians ready to dramatically improve their practicing. Reviewed by Amanda Montgomery, Orangeburg, South Carolina.
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Author:Montgomery, Amanda
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 2005
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