Jump to content
Mathieux

Does 'Practicing' Really make you Better?

Recommended Posts

You want to become a better composer in a week? Are you serious?

Yes, the same logic that applies to the performing arts also applies to composing. Now imagine an amateur pianist coming to you and asking:

"If I go out all spring break (which is this whole week) and play tons of stuff on the piano... Nothing focused, I'll just try a whole bunch of things I've never tried before... Would that make me a better pianist at the end of the week?"

You'll send him straight to the looney bin, right? Everybody knows that in order to be a half-decent pianist, you must practice daily (or almost daily) for many years. So why would you think that composing is any different?

There is one cavet to what I've said:

if you continue to compose and practice your composing technique after the said week is over, than such a week of intense unfocused experiments can benifit you in the long run. But you won't see the imporvement immediately, no matter what you do.

umm... are you serious? You think that I'm oging to become a better composer in a week?

Well of course I will, I'll be a whole weeks worth better than I was a week ago! It's not like i'm just going to stop composing all together once spring break is over, it will just be a lot less because I have school.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
umm... are you serious? You think that I'm oging to become a better composer in a week?

Well of course I will, I'll be a whole weeks worth better than I was a week ago! It's not like i'm just going to stop composing all together once spring break is over, it will just be a lot less because I have school.

I'm afraid you misunderstood me.

Cramming tons of "practice" into a single week won't do you any good, no matter what you do afterwards. You simply can't rush your development as a composer in this manner. You can't remove time from the equation, because time (and especially - time off) is a necessary ingridient in the recipe for becoming better.

And the same is true to the performing arts, as well as any other serious undertaking you'll ever want to do. You won't become a chess grandmaster or a jiu jitsu black belt in a week, either.

That being said, there is one benifit of following your plan. A week of unfocused experimenting will inject a refreshing new wind into the way you view music. Don't call it "practice" though, because it isn't practice. And bear in mind that it may still take months or years for you to actually reap the benifits of this exercise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read nowhere that Mathieu wanted to become a "black belt" within a week. I'm quite sure he realizes that it takes time and that a single week probably won't make a huge difference. But even a week of intensive study is something, as long as you don't drop it alltogether afterwards.

And for some, composing may be something more steady and continuous than for others. Personally, I'm not very steady in my composing at all. There are weeks when I don't compose at all (at least not literally as in writing down stuff), and then there are times when I compose several days almost without pause, day and night, just with an occasional nap and bite now and then. I know many composers who handle it very differently, and compose every day for the same amount of time, no matter what they are working on. But in the end it's all "practice", and hopefully, we both learn something.

But sure, in both cases you can't expect wonders to happen within a short time (which nobody was claiming).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

some good dialogue here.

I like the added statement,"perfect practice makes perfect."

If you practice something wrong habitually, you'll play whatever you practice habitually wrong.

How does this apply to composition? You do drills and exercises to perfect certain methods i.e. voice-leading, counterpoint, two-part voice excercies, quartets etc. Do a ton of that so you may learn it because you WILL need that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, well for more traditional music, sure, practice will make you better.

I thought he was talking about for his own music in contemporary stylings...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Would you really compose a piece that doesn't mean anything? At least to you? Given the fact that nobody paid you to do so, or just out of practice or something like that.

I have listened to a lot of pieces which don't really mean anything. They're just there, and they're beautiful (some times). You CAN appreciate music just for the sake of it, for the soundscapes it explores, for the sounds it evokes. You don't have to associate with it emotionally to appreciate it or for the music to be nice or beautiful or good. A lot of Birtwistle's music is like that, so is Jo Kondo's. Or Finnissy's. Or a lot of other composers'.

As Qc has said before, "emotional" music (with the intent of communicating an emotion, that is) was written over a short period of about 50 years; neither Haydn nor Bach wrote with these kind of "emotions" in mind (the ones that Wagner or Mahler were writing anyway).

How would you communicate an emotion through music anyway? :x

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How would you communicate an emotion through music anyway? :x
Well, obviously, a minor chord mean "sadness" and a minor seventh is "quixotic". A minor seventh with a flat fifth is, of course, "determination".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I read nowhere that Mathieu wanted to become a "black belt" within a week. I'm quite sure he realizes that it takes time and that a single week probably won't make a huge difference.

Point well taken.

Of-course I was exaggarating a bit to make my point. But a single week, taken on it's own, won't even make a small difference, unless you're going for a goal more specific than "becoming a better composer".

You won't become a better pianist in a single week, but you can substantially improve your performance of a specific piece by cramming tons of practice into 7 days. That's what I mean by "a specific goal".

And the same is true for composing. If your looking to improve your counterpoint writing, for example, you can make noticable progress in 7 days. And even then, you'll have to be very focused in what you do.

Personally, I'm not very steady in my composing at all. There are weeks when I don't compose at all (at least not literally as in writing down stuff), and then there are times when I compose several days almost without pause, day and night, just with an occasional nap and bite now and then.

Same here. In fact, I haven't composed anything really new in over a year now. It's the kind of "time off" I've been talking about earlier. I find it necessary to my development as a composer - to stop, every now and then, and reflect over what I've written and where I want to go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Practicing, in the very least, shows you where your strengths lie, as well as what needs work. Over the summer, personally, I've discovered that I don't use enough percussion or even woodwinds where they'd be useful. They may not even be skill-related, but voice-related. Which voices could you bring out more? Which ones need to be toned down? That kind of thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...