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Modernizing Practice Paradigms for New Music

Periodization Theory and Peak Performance Exemplified Through Extended Techniques


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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II. Motivation For the Unconvinced


II.   Motivation for the Unconvinced

a.   Using Extended Techniques to Diagnose and Reframe Technical Issues

This section addresses some of the questionnaire respondents’ informal answers as to why they didn’t play new music. Several said that they were not ready and cited specific problems with embouchure. I subsequently wrote exercises for them using extended techniques to solve their technical problems.

Extended techniques can be used as strengthening exercises. They can reframe practice for a student who has been fruitlessly trying something over and over again. There is no limit as to when they can begin. While many techniques take more energy, not all require the refined embouchure control of traditional playing.10 In fact, non-flutists could learn some of the techniques more quickly than they could learn to play a classical flute tone. There is a tendency to assign all extended techniques to a category as more difficult than traditional ones.11 However, what makes them “extended” is not necessarily their difficulty level, but that in a historical sense, they extend the tonal color palette.

The following problems will be discussed and solutions with extended techniques will be offered:

1.   Shyness

Sometimes shy students have a refined musical sense and are carefully working at making the flute sound very pretty. What they don’t yet realize is that breaking them out of their box will open their sound making it even more resonant. For students who are naturally shy, working with...

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