How to practice a musical instrument

Durante la formación de un músico aparece una y otra vez la recurrente cuestión del tiempo que se debe dedicar a la práctica del instrumento, y constantemente reflexionamos sobre los principios que deben guiar dicha práctica. Ahora que nos preparamos para afrontar un nuevo curso académico y nuevos retos técnicos y musicales se perfilan en el horizonte, quiero recuperar este jugoso pasaje del libro The art melodious (1897) de Louis Lombard. El texto se compone de una serie de recomendaciones muy acertadas para estudiantes (aunque algunas necesitarían matizaciones diversas). Lejos de quedar obsoletos, los consejos de Lombard resumen muchas de las conclusiones a las que han llegado algunos estudios actuales y también lo dicho por los grandes maestros. Espero que sea de ayuda para todo aquel que le dedique unos minutos:

     "Let the number of hours you should practise be regulated by your strength, health and moods. Four hours a day for instrumentalists, and two hours for singers may be regarded as a fair average. If your back aches or your throat is sore, you are unwise in practising before being again in your normal condition. You should divide your hours. If you practise without interruption during many hours you may injure your health without gaining corresponding benefits. Back of all human efforts there needs be the substructure of a sound body. Give about onehalf of your time to scales, tone, and other technical details. Inventory your musical knowledge and keep a record of the studies and pieces you have mastered. Regulate the number of hours at your disposal. Make a note in a little book of your individual defects, and especially, of those idiosyncrasies peculiarly your own-weak vocal organs, an unskilful hand, a careless way, the tendency to hurry, the abuse of the tempo rubato, slovenly pedaling, the inability to read, mannerisms, neglect of tone-qualities, of accents, of rhythm, spasmodic dividing of time, etc., habits resulting from heredity or idiotic practice, or inculcated by incompetent teachers. Beware of vanity. To the careful and modest, his execution shall seem full of glaring faults, and he, even without his teacher, may discover remedies. The conceited will be blinded, and will almost cherish his own defects; a bear loves its ugliest cub. To do a thing once well is not enough. In order to retain it, do it many times well without interruption. Practise one thing at a time. The left hand and now the right, if you are a pianist; the fingering, then the bowing if a violinist; one tone in one breath, and then many, if a singer.
     Always have a high ideal, and strive to attain it. To succeed in this profession, you must not regard musical art as an ear-tickling pastime. This would hardly inspire you to sacrifice much for the attainment of such a toy. You should look upon music as the most poetic and powerful of tongues, as the noblest expression of the soul, excelling in depth, intensity, variety, sublimity, all the other arts. Then you will be on the road to success as a musical artist, provided you have the artistic temperament, and the ability to work humbly, patiently, hopefully!"

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