Friday, 10 May 2013

Smart practice involves four steps: here is the third

A young pianist could play with great dynamism and vitality, but occasionally her performances were marred by technical inaccuracies and mistakes. The pianist’s teacher loved the passionate playing and encouraged it, but also wanted to add some crystal clear, laser - like clarity to it. The teacher asked the young pianist to deliberately concentrate upon certain scales, arpeggios and studies that challenged her technique, to carefully practise them until her playing was consistently accurate and crystal clear. The pianist was then asked to play a piece she knew well and concentrate upon being not only dynamic and vital but also crystal clear in her execution.

Her dynamism caught fire! 

3. Create developmental synergy by integrating newly developed skills with existing strengths
Having built upon strengths and addressed weaknesses by developing new skills, the next stage is to assimilate or integrate the new skills with existing strengths, so that they become an integral part of your unique mix of skills and attributes. Again, to be effective this needs to be done in a methodical, logical and specific way that involves plenty of practice. A good, practical technique that can be used to achieve this is the 1+1=3 Technique.
The 1+1=3 Technique involves taking a specific existing strength and a specific newly developed skill and finding a way to create a new skill that incorporates aspects of the two existing ones.
For example, one of your existing strengths may be your in depth, expert knowledge of a subject. A new skill you may have developed could be the effective use of presentation notes. A way to combine these two attributes would be to use the notes to remind yourself of examples and illustrations that are familiar and relevant to your audience. This will create the third skill of being able to speak not only knowledgeably but also practically and understandably, of being able to use examples and ideas that an audience can engage with and comprehend.
Another example could involve your existing strength in the use of PowerPoint and a recently developed ability in effectively fielding and dealing with questions from an audience. A way of combining these two skills would be to use PowerPoint to structure, prompt and pace question and answer sessions. This would build on your ability to field questions by adding a third skill of being able to manage and pace question and answer sessions and even influence the types of questions asked and the order in which they are presented.
A third example could involve your natural enthusiasm and energy and a recently developed skill in using participative techniques. You could combine your enthusiasm and energy with participative techniques to create a third skill of being able to encourage reciprocal enthusiasm and energy from your audiences.
The key to using the above 1+1=3 Technique is to work at forcing an existing strength and newly developed skill together until you find a third useful outcome. It is also important to keep an open mind as to how the two aspects could combine or influence each other.

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