I believe we have to rehearse differently depending on our state of mind. In order to process lots of data effectively we must be alert and have the necessary energy to do so. For this reason learning new pieces or new habits requires more energy while reviewing older pieces takes less.

When running through old pieces we still need to focus our mind and this is tricky, because our bodies know the moves and we sometimes shift to autopilot. It is useful to introduce things to examine while playing the music so we regain our mindfulness. Here is a partial list of things we might think about:
• Is the left shoulder anticipating shifts?
• Are the left hand fingers moving from the lowest joint?
• Are the right hand fingers moving from the lowest joint?
• If we play the whole piece very softly, what parts sound better?
• If we play the whole piece ponticello, what parts sound better?
• How does each phrase fall into the next?
• In rhythmic passages should some notes be shorter or longer?
In asking questions during our work we will learn things, stay focused and give ourselves a means to assess.

I believe that t it is best to proceed from the general to the specific. In the early stages of learning a new piece it is best to run through it from beginning to end numerous times. This enables us to process the gestalt – the sense of the entire piece. Every work has a unique wholeness and the sooner we come to know it the better we know how to fit in the parts. We can then assume the task of apportioning our practice time accordingly so that we can learn the work. Harder passages will take longer but we must keep the gestalt in mind.

Any work we do in music must enrich our internal or external awareness. Playing with eyes closed will force us to attend to the internal notions of our movements. Playing quietly with almost no sound improves our internal auditory imaging. Singing the melody creates a deeper sense of musical meaning but also increases the amount of brain space devoted to that part of the music. Counting out loud blends a cognitive act [naming beats] with a profoundly intuitive one – the sense of rhythm.

Actively monitoring various body parts helps us stay in the moment and provides us with new knowledge. Observing how and when our shoulders move enriches our sense of corporeal connectedness. Moving on the chair may give a physical outlet to an emotional musical gesture. In my own case, improvising helps to create the right mood to begin a piece.

One day Nasrudin was standing on one foot praying looking like a heron with an empty bucket in front of him.

“What a strange position to pray in, it looks like you will take flight toward the Citadel at any moment,” said his neighbor as he passed by.

“Fool,” Nasrudin said without moving, “you know nothing of sacred matters. I had only enough water to clean one foot.”