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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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VI. Building Stamina Through Extended Techniques


VI.   Building Stamina Through Extended Techniques

The following sections place extended techniques on a continuum of difficulty. This approach assumes that the techniques are handled in isolation and is not meant to be exact, especially considering the myriad of possibilities in repertoire. This is a further development of the original idea I had when writing my dissertation. There is a well-circulated quote of Pierre Boulez about a student needing to jump with a miniature parachute into the contemporary world. At the time, I wrote the following phrase that inspired my work: “there are certain things that one may be willing to play, but cannot responsibly teach.”47 I felt the need for a systematic pedagogical approach and began with ordering repertoire in order to make the transition to new music earlier in a flutist’s education as well as less of a systemic shock. When I first began in new music, online video tutorials weren’t made yet. However, what happens naturally when things can be easily demonstrated is that we spend less time on them. I have heard a “you just go like this” type of approach. I wanted to make a progression for building stamina in order to show that there is a way in to this new sound world. In addition to this, I wanted to show that it does take time to develop the necessary skills to play these techniques artfully.

This progression also serves to further illustrate the concept of periodization. When planning...

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