Goal-oriented Practice

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Have you seen those adverts on the internet which proclaim ‘Learn Scales Fast!’ or ‘Master Guitar in a Week’ or ‘Speedy Piano’? Perhaps like me you also feel that these kind of adverts miss the point and are about sales and marketing rather than education.

Most of these ‘publications’ come in an e-Book/PDF format for download. It’s an easy format to produce and therefore anyone can (and frequently do) write books with wide variations in the quality of the content.

I’m pleased to report that Goal-Oriented Practice is an e-Book that is written and produced in the right way. There is no spin or hype. Just straightforward advice from an experienced music teacher.

The book is primarily aimed at pianists. The first section on practice environment for example, discusses how to be comfortable at the piano and various other examples in the book discuss hand placement, keyboard and piano music. This does not mean however that players of other instruments will not benefit from reading it.

Practice is discussed in general terms and several approaches are mentioned: warm ups, notation, practice logs, listening and use of senses are all touched upon. Saathoff uses real world examples from Rostropovich, Glenn Gould and Jimminy Cricket to add perspective and authority to the points being raised.

There are many useful points contained in the books 35 pages which will make great music practice quotations. One of my favourites is “practicing is mostly about getting to the piano and paying attention while you’re there!”

I do have one critisicm to make and that is of the chosen title. In a book called ‘Goal’ oriented practice I was expecting to see much coverage of goal setting in relation to practice. Discussion of goals is fleeting, just a few paragraphs relating to immediate goals for the next session or repeat. Given the title maybe a longer term view should have been taken on goals?

This is a good book with lots of tips on how to practice more effectively. Does it deliver what I expected? Not really, for me a change in title would turn this into a really good book that doesn’t dissappoint.

Goal-oriented Practice by Gretchen Saathoff, (2010) is available from: Gretchen’s Pianos

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