As a classically trained musician, this is entirely contrary to my musical development and understanding of musical experience. Still, it is valuable and it forces me to reexamine my teaching process: How do I help students develop autonomous performance skills without the drudgery of "practicing"? How can students go directy from creating to performing and still have a successful performance for their peers? Or perhaps more precisely, how can I reframe practice in the context of performance?
The answer, I believe, is two-fold. The first is in identifying rehearsal techniques and the self-inquiry students need to make their rehearsals productive. Students should be able to ask themselves and honestly answer the following questions:
1. Can I perform the entire piece beginning to end without stopping or making a mistake?
2. (If performing as part of an ensemble): Can my ensemble start together? Can we end at the same time?
3. What do I want it to sound like?
The second part is learning how to be an active and honest music critic. That is, developing the skills necessary to listen to the parts of music, to evaluate both a composition and a performance, and to describe elements of the music such as form, dynamics, tempo, steady beat, and whether or not an ensemble is playing in unison. They should be able to answer the following questions:
1. How did the ensemble start and end their piece? How did you know it was the beginning or the end?
2. What was the main idea? Can you sing it or clap it on your own?
3. Were you able to keep a steady beat with the performers? (Only applicable if steady beat is an element of their composition.)
4. Did the ensemble play together?
5. Did the performer(s) sound rehearsed and confident in their performance?
In future composition/performance projects, I will have to make sure students have a checklist both for their compositional and rehearsal process, and for listening to others' performances in order to better help them develop the skills necessary for rehearsal technique and performance critique.