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Modernizing Practice Paradigms for New Music

Periodization Theory and Peak Performance Exemplified Through Extended Techniques

Series:

Jennifer Borkowski

The author examines how new music scores with extended playing techniques call for new practice structures. YouTube access to basic instructional videos and the streaming of sound files allows musicians today to learn easily and independently. Yet, the trailblazers in new music tackled new scores without these aids; they used imagination, experimentation and tenacity. Conscious use of both learning modalities can augment ideas of practice and performance preparation; expanding new music’s reach while preserving its fire. Practice is differentiated between the quick learning for an upcoming performance and the transformative learning that new music offers. Periodization theory from sport science provides a pedagogical framework for building both mental and physical stamina leading to peak performance.

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I. Introduction

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New music is no longer marginalized. Musicians have never been more in- dependent, more diverse and more empowered. The purpose of this book is to further possibilities of growth, modernizing practice paradigms by updat- ing theories of learning and performance preparation. While creating new learning models, I use information from fields that have studied stamina, peak performance and practice efficiency – scientifically. Modern reper- toire includes new and extended playing techniques, but musicians are still studying in the same ways we always have. To date, pedagogical materials have given us dictionaries of extended tech- niques and composers have developed a grammar in using them. In just the past few years, new technology has created tremendous ease of access to these materials. For example, as an offshoot of Robert Dick’s ground- breaking work in developing new fingerings, Andrew Botros developed an algorithm which notates all of the possible fingerings for multiphonics, mi- crotones and altered timbres. Now a flutist or composer can bring a phone or tablet into a practice room and access every mathematical fingering possibility. YouTube has changed accessibility to new music. Everyone can now hear repertoire that was previously only heard in new music festivals. Extended techniques used to be a mystery, requiring a brute strength and score reading prowess to figure them out. Now we have expert models of them online. Robert Dick, Helen Bledsoe and Matthias Ziegler, among others, have made excellent online tutorials. One YouTube channel syncs recordings of Brian Ferneyhough’s works with the...

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