“Rules and Maxims for Young Musicians” by Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

Translated by Fanny Raymond Ritter

  1. You must practise scales and other finger exercises. There are people, however, who think they may attain to everything in doing this; until a ripe age they daily practise mechanical exercises for many hours. That is as reasonable as trying to pronounce “a, b, c” quacker and quicker every day. Make a better use of your time.
  2. Dragging and hurrying are equally great faults.
  3. Try to play easy pieces well; it is better than to play difficult ones in a mediocre style.
  4. Lose no opportunity of playing music, duos, trios, etc., with others. This will make your playing broader and more flowing. Accompany singers often.
  5. Sing in choruses industriously, especially the middle voices. This will make you a good reader, and intelligent as a musician.
  6. Observe the tone and character of the different instruments; try to impress their peculiar tone-colours on you ear.
  7. Do not try to attain mere technical facility, the so-called bravura. Try to produce the same impression with a composition, as that which the composer aimed at; no one should attempt more; anything beyond it is mere caricature.

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