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Too good at the wrong things ?

Discussion in 'Technique' started by Aubade, May 15, 2016.

  1. Aubade

    Aubade New Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    I started learning the piano in 1957, and have been playing it on and off ever since. I've saved all my pennies over the years and in 2003 bought a 1985 Steinway 'D', which has been and continues to be a wonderful instrument to own.

    Having been dragooned into accompanying choral societies, helping people through their solo instrument exams etc., I've got to the point where I can sight-read most things readily enough (eg a grade 8 piece), and after three or four play-throughs can manage a somewhat rough and ready accompaniment that seems to serve well enough.

    Now I've retired with a lot more time on my hands, I want to be able to render this stuff at performance level (and who knows maybe take an external LTCL). My trouble is that I never play the piece twice in a row using the same fingering, I can't play any music at all without having the score in front of me and I'm sure my practising technique is highly compromised by 'just playing it'.

    Suggestions ?

    Aubade
     
  2. Kalos Piano

    Kalos Piano New Member

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    If I understand well your problem is with memorizing pieces, right?
    I guess you need to abandon the "playing through the whole piece" strategy and focus on single sections on music.
    You can't memorize a whole page of music easily, but you can memorizing a single bar without much difficulty.
    I will copy paste down here one of my previous posts:

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I'm just a beginner but I can memorize quite well using the following method. It's similar to what other users have listed already. With it I can memorize one page of music equivalent in length and complexity to, let's say, one single movement of a Sonatina from Clementi or a Burgmuller Etude Op. 100 in one-two days. Depending on individual memory skills, of course, one might be able to do a bit more or a bit less than that.

    1) isolate one single section (depending on how easy/hard the piece is, the section might be half a measure, one measure, two measures. It needs to be something short enough that you can play it just a couple of times and then repeat it many more times without looking at the score). Let's call it section A.

    2) play the section hands separate, very very slowly at first, then progressively accelerate until you're confident enough to play it repeatedly quite fast without looking at the score.

    3) repeat step 2 with hands together.

    4) go to the next section (let's call it B), repeat setps 2 and 3.

    5) you should now be able to play A and B without any pause between the two and without looking at the score. Do look at the score if needed, but first try to go by memory. repeat steps 2 and 3 on A and B together.

    6) go to the next section (let's call it C). Repeat steps 2 and 3.

    7) now you should be able to play B and C together without pauses. Repeat steps 2 and 3.

    8) continue going like this with all following sections. When you reach the end of a row, repeat the whole row without pauses multiple times (check the score if you need to, but try first to do without).

    9) When you reach the end of the page/part that you want to learn, repeat the whole thing multiple times, HS and HT, first slowly then progressively faster (check the score if you need to, but try first to do without).

    10) try experimenting playing the piece by heart starting from various random points (not only from the beginning of each section you isolated).

    NB: very important, before getting from step 1 to 10, try to identify chords, arpeggios, scales, intervals used in each section. This really helps memorization.

    This works especially well with spaced repetition. What I do, for instance, is applying these 10 points in the early morning, then going with my usual piano routine, then replay steps 9 and 10 after the end of my piano routine. Later, in the evening, I will again both start and finish my evening piano session with steps 10 and 11.

    Generally on the morning of the second day I will be already able to play the whole piece by heart. Possibly there will be very few doubts in some points for which I will briefly check the music score, but by the third day I won't need the score at all anymore for that learned page.

    Hope this helped at least a bit.

    Good luck!
    ********************************************


    I might add to the above (at least inferring from what I've read in the past, since I haven't had much experience with multiple voices myself) that for all of the above you might need to practice not just HT and HS, but also each single voice separately before you attempt to play everything at the same time.
     
  3. Kalos Piano

    Kalos Piano New Member

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    ps: when you're repeating a single bar multiple times, make sure that you use always the same fingering over and over, so it really gets imprinted in your brain.
    If you're really having difficulties memorizing, you could go as far a concentrating on one single measure each day.
    Please report back here if this all works for you :)
     

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