AFC and CTS!

AFC is your goal.

CTS is the way to achieve it.

AFC=Accuracy, Fluency, Confidence 

ACCURACY: Being able to play without mistakes

FLUENCY: Being able to play without hesitation

CONFIDENCE: Being able to play without worry

How do you practise in order to achieve AFC?

You use CTS!

CTS=Chunking, Tempo, Separate

CHUNKING: Choose a small section of the music to focus on. Could be a bar or just part of a bar, or could be a couple of bars or a phrase. It needs to be short and it needs to be part of the music that is proving tricky for you. Make sure that your Chunk incorporates notes either side of the “tricky bit”.

TEMPO: This really means slow tempo. You don’t have to use a metronome, but it’s almost always a good idea to use one once you know the notes quite well. Then you can measure your tempo accurately and increase it incrementally. Only increase the tempo when you have reached AFC at the previous one!

SEPARATE: This means Hands Separately. It’s another form of chunking really, only you are chunking horizontally instead of vertically. One hand at a time, to nail those notes and rhythms. With or without metronome (use your best judgment).

So, here’s the 4-step protocol: 

  1. Play your piece, or part of your piece, to identify the “tricky bits”. They may be tricky because you don’t fully know the notes yet, or because you keep stopping or hesitating. You’ll know if there’s a problem!
  2. Use CTS on that part (Chunk) at a slow tempo. You should use either or both of Tempo (slow) and Separate (one hand at a time). Only recombine the hands when each has reached AFC (accuracy, fluency and confidence) independently of the other.
  3. Increase the tempo incrementally (a bit at a time) until you reach the tempo you want, still with AFC though. If at any point you lose any or all of Accuracy, Fluency and Confidence, then go back a stage.
  4. Test your work by starting from the beginning, or from a good starting point before your Chunk, and make sure you move smoothly through the Chunk. If you do, then you’ve fixed it! If not, go back and repeat the process.

This combination of CTS and AFC will solve all practice difficulties, provided you do it in the right way.

Good luck!