Practiceopedia by Philip Johnston

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‘The complete illustrated guide to mastering music’s greatest challenge . . . ‘

‘An A-Z of everything students and parents need to know about practicing’

Let’s find out shall we.

When this volume fell on my desk I have to admit that I was itching to get inside and read it. I’ve previously read Promoting your teaching studioPractice Revolution Practice Planner and Not Until You’ve Done You’re Practice all by Philip Johnston and all, it has to be said, excellent books on practice.

This is a much larger volume than those previously released by Practice Spot – both in terms of it’s size (it’s not going to fit in any instrument cases!) and also number of pages, running to over 300.

We move now to my first issue with the book. The overall layout and design are not good in my opinion. The front cover for example is a mis-match of fonts and drop shadow effects and the images on both front and back are poorly composited. Unfortunately this continues inside. On any given page there are numerous changes in typography, italics, bold, different font faces, numbering, indentation styles. . . . . I could go on. This is a real shame, these details are important and do detract from the reading of the book. I’m also unsure as to why a 3 column newspaper type layout was chosen??

The cover proclaims this to be a complete ‘illustrated’ guide. Whilst true it again suffers from the poor design choices of the rest of the book. These illustrations are in fact ‘clip art’ drawings so popular with word processing applications ten or fifteen years ago. They’re not all the same style and seem to have been shoehorned in for the sake of it.

Looking past these issues and moving onto the contents it does look as though this is a very comprehensive guide to practice. There are hundred and hundreds of ideas on how you can practice more effectively. All you need to do is find the advice that is right for you. But here we come onto another problem. Do you use the Chapter Guide? Or perhaps the Practiceopedia Usher? Maybe the cross references? You can have too many choices! I’ve tried to put myself in the position of a young learner aged between 7 & 16. How would I find the information I need? I would probably end up very, very confused.

In terms of content the books covers all areas of practice in a clear thorough manner as we have come to expect from Johnston. Some of the issues covered are not wanting to practice, learning new pieces, saving time, staying focused, managing deadlines and dealing with problem passages.

If you’ve read this far you probably think that I’m not a fan of this book. Quite the opposite is in fact true. I think this is a truly excellent book. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone and everyone. I’m just very dissapointed that the issues I’ve highlighted above detract from the excellent content of the book. Were the book to be re-formatted, re-designed and re-issued in a way that made the content clearer and easier to find then this would truly be the best book on practice out there at the moment.

Practiceopedia by Philip Johnston, (2007, Practice Spot Press, ISBN: 978-0958190534) is available from:[amazon asin=0958190534&template=htp price]

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