Experts in many fields approach a new problem by identifying the general principles involved before starting work on details. Do expert musicians similarly begin work on a new piece with the big picture, an artistic image of the piece, in mind? To find out, a concert pianist recorded her practice of the third movement, Presto, of J. S. Bach's Italian Concerto, commenting as she did so about what she was doing. The behavioral record of where playing started, stopped, and slowed down indicated the musical dimensions affecting practice, while the comments indicated the main focus of the pianist's attention. An artistic image for the piece was already evident in the initial sight-read performance, guided work on technique in sessions 1-6, and was transformed into a plan for performance by practice of performance cues in sessions 7-8. Interpretive details were added in sessions 9-10 and remaining problems touched up in session 11-12. Despite its pervasive effects on practice, the pianist's artistic image was mentioned only indirectly in comments about technique in sessions 1-6 and about structure, memory, and interpretation in later sessions.
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