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 Post subject: Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 11:59 am 
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Yes, that is a tendency that needs to be checked.

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 Post subject: Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:40 pm 
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My biggest problem right now is that I've hit a plateau regarding a certain piece I'm working on. It seems like it is not improving and I've been working on it for a long time! And because I've invested so much time, I don't want to give up on it. Not really sure what I'm going to do now....

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 Post subject: Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 5:08 pm 
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weiwei wrote:
i don't know whether this is a problem:

When i practise difficult pieces, i tend to restart the piece all over again when i make a mistake. I think it becomes a problem because in the end i know the beginning of the piece really well but stumble for the rest of the piece:\


Weiwei, that is a problem because, just as you say, you learn the beginning but you don't really learn the rest.

Some solutions are:
1.) When you begin to work on a new piece, mark the biggest problem spots. Pick one to begin your practice session and work that section carefully. Then pick another and do the same.

2.) Find the sections of the piece and work a section at a time, but start with the end of the piece (I call it "backward practice" -- not that you practice in retrograde, but that you work by section from end to beginning.) Of course some sections may have a sub-section that needs special attention. In that case, work the difficult part(s) of that section first and then put them into context.

3.) An extreme form of the above is to work from end towards the begininning by measure (play last measure, then play the last two, etc.) or even beat. This is sometimes effective in pieces that have constant motion.

Note that where you fall apart may not be the actual problem, but a symptom of an earlier problem -- poor fingering choice that works up to this point, poor hand position, mis-reading, etc. Working from end towards the beginning helps to determine fingering and other factors according to how you need to end section in regards to fingering so that you are prepared for the next section.

4.) Know what sections are repeated (exactly or similarly -- such as the second theme group in a sonata which is first played in some non-tonic key and then recapitualed in tonic). This will help you to be consistent with your fingering when possible and to understand any differences required.

Hope this helps and welcome to Piano Society,

Scott


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 Post subject: Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 6:10 pm 
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RSPI11 wrote:
2.) Find the sections of the piece and work a section at a time, but start with the end of the piece (I call it "backward practice" -- not that you practice in retrograde, but that you work by section from end to beginning.) Of course some sections may have a sub-section that needs special attention. In that case, work the difficult part(s) of that section first and then put them into context.
This is what I do, but about 2-4 bars at a time.

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"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


Last edited by musical-md on Sat Oct 15, 2011 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 6:19 pm 
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musical-md wrote:
This is what I do, but aboyt 2-4 bars at a time.


That's what I call "chunks" ... a unit of practice, which usually turns out to be about 2-4 bars, maybe more if it's easy or less if it's hard. It's as much as you can usefully practise in one go, and can get under your fingers at practice speed before you start to reach the point of diminishing returns and have to go on to something else.

Backwards practice is great. I've taken to learning whole pieces back to front, because the difficult bits tend to go with the climax towards the end, and it's nice to be able to play through to the end from the bit you're working on.

If I said I had one practising problem it's concentration together with finding the discipline not to gloss over mistakes. I know full well it rarely helps to say "oh, that's just a little slip, I don't need to go back over that bit"--I'm just lazy :evil:


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 Post subject: Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:24 pm 
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Yeah definitely breaking down the song into small chunks is more efficient. You could even break it down further and practice sets of notes.

Here's a resource that I've read in the past. Gives some good food for thought in terms of making piano practice more efficient. Be warned - there's a lot of info in there! I got easily engrossed. =)

http://www.pianofundamentals.com/book/en/chapter_1

What other big problems do people have practising the piano?


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 Post subject: Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:49 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
My biggest problem right now is that I've hit a plateau regarding a certain piece I'm working on. It seems like it is not improving and I've been working on it for a long time! And because I've invested so much time, I don't want to give up on it. Not really sure what I'm going to do now....

Monica,
I just now saw this post of yours. You describe a common phenomenon (I think). When I was younger, I used to describe my techincal advances as filling a room with dust in the the air, and the only part that "stuck" was only the thin layer that had settled overnight for the next day! This would repeat until it was finally up to the ceiling, causing seemingly NO PROGRESS for an extended time until it finally broke through, and then the progress was fast again. <This is just my mental picture.> However the same certainly happens to me with specific works. I recently found that having been distracted from one work by working hard another for a period of several weeks resulted in real break-through's on the first. So time away to let things cool, settle and mature a bit is an effective technique for me. You might try staying away for a month or so, but I would also recommend hands separate practicing before doing that.

Good luck!

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Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:49 pm 
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Thanks for the advice, Eddy. I do agree that taking a break from the piece helps. But for me, I can't take too long of a break because the opposite happens and I start forgetting everything I had learned. Recently (and as usual), I get sidetracked by reading through other pieces (and then discovering that I love them and so I get them into recording shape), and then of course that takes away time from working on THE piece I'm having trouble with. But when I do get back to THE piece, it's pretty much in my fingers right where I left it (maybe two or three days had passed). So then I get serious again and work and work on the piece, but still there is that plateau. Maybe there is a teeny tiny amount of progress made (like your dust layers). Or maybe the piece is just too hard for me... I dunno...I was hoping to play the piece in the Chicago (you-know-what), but now I'm not sure if it's going to fly. We'll see....

One other thing: practicing hands-separate is something I do not like to do at all. It really does nothing for me, because it's all in getting BOTH hands coordinated to play together. I do better with hands-together and playing slow and loud.

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:52 am 
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There's a school of thought that recommends practising both hands separate till they are pretty good on their own before combining them. The thought behind it is that if you can't even play one hand well up to speed, how can you hope of playing both hands at the same time well! So you make sure that that foundation is there in each hand before you combine them together. I have tried both and found that practising hands separately have helped me overcome "speedwalls" where I had a plataeu and couldn't play faster.


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 Post subject: Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:11 am 
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I was taught always to separate hands. In Bach even separate voices.

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He is doing his best."
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 Post subject: Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:19 pm 
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I could see why practicing hands-separate in Bach would be okay, but normally every piece I start, I just jump in with both hands because I'm too impatient to practice one hand at a time. I still don't think practicing any of the kinds of pieces I play would benefit much from hands-separate practicing; in fact, I can't remember the last time I did. This may sound terrible to most pianists and I don't advocate my way of practicing. I know it's my lack of patience that screws things up.

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

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 Post subject: Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:44 pm 
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I've never practiced hands apart in Bach or elsewhere, and never felt a need to. Also, neither of my two former teachers (both renowned concert pianists) have ever mentioned it as a requirement or even possibility. So it can't be such a rule set in stone, I think.
Practising voices apart seems quite silly to me. Can't see what one would learn from that, except where the voices are, but you should know that anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 4:04 pm 
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Come to think of it, my last two teachers did not advise me to practice hands-separate, either.

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 4:39 pm 
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Mine did. The drill was:

Technique: first reading with both hands
Aim: feel of the structure and harmonies

Technique: right and left separate, until both can be played without hitches.
Aim: To know what each hand must do and to concentrate on fingerings

Technique: Separate voices, using the same fingerings as if the other voices were present, even if the voice is spread over two hands
Aim: To know the melody and to memorise fingerings and principally, to get a feel for the polyphony and not to view the voices as harmony. The music is a combination of melodies and not a sequence of courses.

I would add reinforcing each voice in turn. That is, play voice A as if all other voices were subordinate, then the same for B and so on. One must feel the voices and not the "harmonies" created by them.

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"Please do not shoot the pianist
He is doing his best."
Oscar Wilde: Impressions of America: Leadville


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 Post subject: Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 5:03 pm 
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Wow. Well if it worked for you :)

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