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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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VII. Periodization of Heinz Holliger’s (t)air(e)

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Once the required techniques for a more difficult piece have been built, we are going to look at periodization applied over a longer time period. Peri- odization was helpful on a weekly basis. We differentiated between high and low intensity tasks to build stamina, muscle and flexibility. One situa- tion that musicians repeatedly have trouble with is structuring larger time frames. We’re generally misguided, adding up more blocks of repetition for security. Any flutist who has stepped into the orchestral excerpt track has probably experienced this. The challenge is not to play the excerpts, but to keep them fresh. Periodization does not erase repetition altogether, but differentiates between repetition that is helpful and repetition that is not. The goal of periodization at this time is to prepare thoroughly yet recover enough lost energy to peak in time for the performance. By adding practice variability, we reduce the probability of boredom. We also reduce the possibility of panic because of a loss of skill. Loss of a previously established skill signifies overtraining, not too little training. The following sections take apart this piece to set up a work plan for a per- formance. a. Breathing Challenges This is not the first piece of Holliger’s to focus on air. Air, in this piece, is composed. You don’t get to chose when and how to breathe. He chose it for you. This piece is one of several from a time when a group of German composers were breaking the barrier between...

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