1st Edition

Practicing Music by Design Historic Virtuosi on Peak Performance

By Christopher Berg Copyright 2019
    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    Practicing Music by Design: Historic Virtuosi on Peak Performance explores pedagogical practices for achieving expert skill in performance. It is an account of the relationship between historic practices and modern research, examining the defining characteristics and applications of eight common components of practice from the perspectives of performing artists, master teachers, and scientists. The author presents research past and present designed to help musicians understand the abstract principles behind the concepts. After studying Practicing Music by Design, students and performers will be able to identify areas in their practice that prevent them from developing.

    The tenets articulated here are universal, not instrument-specific, borne of modern research and the methods of legendary virtuosi and teachers. Those figures discussed include:

    • Luminaries Franz Liszt and Frederic Chopin
    • Renowned performers Anton Rubinstein, Mark Hambourg, Ignace Paderewski, and Sergei Rachmaninoff
    • Extraordinary teachers Theodor Leschetizky, Rafael Joseffy, Leopold Auer, Carl Flesch, and Ivan Galamian
    • Lesser-known musicians who wrote perceptively on the subject, such as violinists Frank Thistleton, Rowsby Woof, Achille Rivarde, and Sydney Robjohns

    Practicing Music by Design forges old with new connections between research and practice, outlining the practice practices of some of the most virtuosic concert performers in history while ultimately addressing the question: How does all this work to make for better musicians and artists?

    Chapter One Introduction / Chapter Two A Foundation of Knowledge and Skill / Chapter Three Chunking / Chapter Four Mental Work / Chapter Five Slow Practice / Chapter Six Variety in Repetition / Chapter Seven Continuity / Chapter Eight Phrase-Storming / Chapter Nine Feedback and Self-Criticism / Chapter Ten Codetta


    Christopher Berg is a Carolina Distinguished Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Music, where he runs the classical guitar program.