Maximizing Your Studio’s Potential

Maximise-Your-Studios-Potential-ReviewWe are always happy to receive new information and resources on practice so it was a pleasant surprise when this book arrived through the postbox.

Written by Julie Patton (she of Chop-Sticks embouchure strengthening fame) the book is squarely aimed at brass players who are studying at university level. My questions therefore were focused on what this book has to offer in terms of practice and which ideas presented here can be transferred to other instruments.

An initial quick perusal reveals two things. Firstly the book/process is very specific, describing how the book should be used and how to apply it to lessons. The second thing that is apparent is the amount of detail. It is very detailed – something that might not sit too well with those that prefer a freer more fluid approach to their teaching.

The basic process outlined in the book is as follows:

  • Perform Initial Assessment
  • Evaluate Skills and Set Goals
  • Weekly Lessons
  • Assess Progress
  • Evaluate Skills and Set Goals

I like many areas of this process. Far too many students in my experience go through their university education with no clear idea of end goals or what they are working towards. Using this system the student can be in no doubt.

The skills assessments are very valuable. Practice problems often start because students are not clearly aware of their weaknesses. The initial assessment breaks all areas of technique down into separate measurable areas, with the student being scored against each. Out of these assessments targets for daily practice sessions can be worked.

In addition to the teachers book there is also a ‘Student Log Book’. Again very detailed but perhaps a little bulky? The log book is the students record of their skills, goals, concerts, auditions, practice, personal review and much more – it’s certainly not short on detail!

At this point I have to raise my usual criticism of practice notebooks. Fixation with time. The student is required to enter length of practice time spent on each skill. Regular readers will know my views on time being irrelevant and achievement being the key. However in the case of this book there is opportunity to enter achievements so I can forgive a little. How much better would it have been to work achievements into each weekly lesson log??

Overall I am impressed by the detail and work that has gone into these books. The main strength is in the planning and assessment of practice. A student using these books would always know what they are working towards. I also think that the processes here would translate well to other instruments. Print and production are good and I always like to see spiral binding – makes notebooks much easier to use.

On the downside there is little specific information on practice methods or techniques. Requirements are set but not how to get there.

If taken with some information on practice methods I think these books are a very useful tool to help students progress well through university studies.

Maximizing Your Studio’s Potential and Student Log Book by Julie Patton, (2003, Purple Lizard Press, ISBN: 978-0976290216 & 978-0976290209) are available from:

Purple Lizard Press priced $19.95 and $24.95 respectively.

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