Upon finishing a week of rehearsal with my students, and then traveling across the country to judge a competition, I found myself thinking a lot about ‘details’. I heard that same word escaping my mouth both as an instructor and as a judge. We all know that details are important, but sometimes it is easy to let things go in the frantic rush of everyday life. The details are what separate the good from the mediocre. They separate the best from the good. They are usually the only factor that separates 1st place from 2nd. We all know that details are important, so why do we not all always take the time to dot all the “i”s and cross all the “t”s?
Time. Time is always the enemy. There is never enough of it to do everything we want to do. So how do we find the time to pay enough attention to the details? In my experience, I always try to remember to begin at the beginning. The first time the student plays the instrument, the instruction should be detail oriented. Any time you see a missed sticks in or out, or a hand out of place or a grip not utilized correctly, address it. Any time you see someone doing any of those things perfectly, address it. We all see these things every day. The problem is when we do not address them because we have to get through this music today, we have to be at the field in 10 minutes, or we are just trying to get to the section that we planned on working today. These are all obstacles that keep us from being detail oriented. The thing is, it never takes as much time as we think it is going to. Sometimes, the problem will not be fixed immediately no matter what or how you say it. It takes time. It takes practice. It takes repetition. Sometimes addressing the problem or the achievement is enough to remind the student of what you are looking for so they can work on it on their own. Teach the students to be detail oriented and they will begin to address the details themselves. Then you will not have to continuously take time out of rehearsal to say the same thing over and over again.
Also, It is important to make sure the music you are expecting the students to learn, execute and perform is within their grasp (with some practice) to perform with good technique and sound quality. If the music is too hard, they will never get past the technical aspects of it and never be able to put their attention on being detail oriented, relaxed and in complete control of what they are doing. Once the students become detail oriented, the program will be detail oriented. That is when you will really start to get things done.