Tuesday, October 02, 2007

On the Subject of Practice

E started dance classes with the local ballet company's dance academy a few weeks ago at their new secondary location. While everyone was more then kind and the facility was quite nice the class size was small and things were still getting settled. E did not fare very well during the first three classes.

I spoke with the director and a teacher about the situation and we decided to have E try out a class at the downtown location where the company practices. E was very excited about the idea of getting to dance where the 'people who dance as their job' practice.

The building is beautiful, a renovated factory, warehouse type structure with huge rehearsal spaces and smaller spaces for the younger students.

Class started with the pink leotard, tight and ballet slippered little girls lining up in the waiting area and then processing down the hallway after their teacher to their studio.

E loved the class.

Henry and I checked out the building a bit during the class. Some of the company was practicing for an upcoming performance in one of the larger studios. They were practicing a combination to an instrumental version of God Bless America.

They practiced the same short section over, and over, and over,

and over,

and over,

and over,

and over.

The repetition and attention to detail was mind blowing. I've participated in my share of rehearsals over the years, more choir then dance. The practice I observed was at a level I'd never seen before.

This reminds me of a story. I had a Choir Director at a Summer Music Institute at BGSU back when I was in High School who had a fun story about world famous Organist Diane Bish. The story went that she would not allow anyone to listen in on her practice sessions. The Director was curious to find out why her practice sessions were closed so he hid down on the floor where Ms Bish was going to practice. I can't remember if it was a church sanctuary with pews or a recital hall with seats.

Ms Bish beings to practice repeating the same relatively short phrase over and over again and counting each time she plays it perfectly.

(phrase played perfectly) "One"

(phrase played perfectly) "Two"


(phrase NOT played perfectly) "Expletive!"

(phrase played perfectly) "One"

The story goes that she repeated this process until she played the phrase perfectly 100 times in a row then proceeded to the next phrase.

While checking out the Carnegie Hall website for Allison and Nicholas's JKR encounter later this month I came across the directions page.

While it takes some people a lifetime of practice to get to Carnegie Hall (as the saying goes), others just have to follow these simple directions.

Practice, practice, practice. Practice like Diane Bish and the ballet dancers Henry and I observed earlier today.

So what does this have to do with knitting? I've noticed from casual observation that the knit bloggers who are really good knitters knit a lot. In a sense they practice. While my knitting still has vast room for improvement I do feel that it has improved greatly over the past few years with practice.

But how much to practice?

I suppose it depends on how much time you are willing to commit to your craft.

I can't remember the musician but I heard on the radio recently someone commenting to said musician how they would give anything to play like him. His response was are you willing to give eight hours of practice every day for pretty much every day of your life?

Dad is a organist. I have fond memories of listening to him practice pretty much everyday when I was a little girl. At one point his piano was in the basement under my bedroom. I got to hear him practice while I was falling asleep. He still practices nearly every day, not for eight hours but he still practices.

We have been talking about the concept of practice with Evelyn lately. She has a tendency to get frustrated when she can't learn a new skill right away. We've talked about Gramps practicing his piano and now we are talking about the dancers practicing over and over, even though they are very good dancers they still don't get things the first time and have to practice very hard.

I feel like practicing my knitting. R2-KT is coming along quite nicely. My plan for double knit with a smidge of fair isle thrown it seems to actually be working.

As a fun little end note Allison and Nicholas have met Diane Bish in person. They even have a signed copy of her biography. Small world.


Allison's name is listed on the Scholastic Website. Click on the little Click here to open a new window with a list of confirmed winners. She is listed in Ohio, Allison 27.

What excitement!

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