This blog post is going to explain the importance of "Never Ride a Dying Turtle". Students usually say to me, "No, that would not be good!" I would never try it anyway, poor thing! But this little saying is really just an acronym for Notes, Rhythm, Articulation, Dynamics and Tempo. One of my students made it up and it has stuck with us ever since. In my many years of experience (20 years of teaching) this is the best order to rehearse a song.
#1 is the notes. You really can't have a great song without correct notes. So as you are playing a song and you miss an accidental, the audience will know, they will, no matter their musical background so you must make every note perfect.
#2 is Rhythm. Rhythm is the musical pattern, beat, and length of notes and rests and without this solid foundation, the music does not sound the way it is supposed to. For example, Twinkle Twinkle has a set rhythmic pattern but say you change it up and throw in whole notes and half notes where quarter notes are, the music is just not the same music you had before. Once you have notes and rhythm learned and you feel very solid on both, only then do you move to step #3 Articulation.
Articulation is how you tongue a note or some people like to say how you play style. Accent(play with more air or harder hit), Staccato(seperated), Legato(smooth), Tenuto(full value), Marcato(hard accent).
#4 is Dynamics. Dynamics are the louds and softs of the music and really bring out the mood of the music. Playing dynamics is crucial for the audience to feel the music. Don't disappoint....
#5 is Tempo. Tempo is the speed of the music and it is the least of my worries in a song. It is the very last element that we work on when rehearsing. I will push tempos ONLY when I think everyone is ready and have done steps 1-4 beautifully.
It would benefit you as a player to follow the steps mentioned above when you are practicing at home on any music. Keep in mind we will always use this method when rehearsing in band.