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#1124031 - 08/01/04 05:33 PM practice techniques
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
I asked Ryan from the gifted room about the practice techniques he uses (and teaches maybe)..

I feel a bit like a traitor. What are some of the practice techniques you have been taught... why do you like them (if you do)
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1124032 - 08/01/04 05:37 PM Re: practice techniques
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
Hmm - Techniques for technique, working on a difficult part or starting a new piece? Could you be more specific?
_________________________
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

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#1124033 - 08/01/04 05:47 PM Re: practice techniques
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
just looking for ways to practice more efficiently... fishing for suggestions... entertaining the notion of studying with a serious rigorous teacher...
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1124034 - 08/01/04 06:19 PM Re: practice techniques
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
I have been trying to divide my serious "practice time" into 3 parts: 1. technical exercises my teacher has "suggested" 2. sight-reading practice
3.work on repetoire. I usually finish by choosing a couple of pieces I already know or by playing something I am working on from start to finish, ignoring any mistakes. I pretend I have an audience and that I have to keep going no-matter-what. During my repetoire time I usually pick parts of a new piece that are giving me trouble and really limit myself into working on just that part until I am satisfied that I have made real, permanent improvements on it. If I don't structure myself, I tend to get scattered and just play a bunch of different things without really "working" anything. Or worse, spending my time on things that are too hard for me and getting discouraged. Having a teacher really helps keep me on course. I am a "pleaser" and I want to be able to show progress when I go for my lesson.
_________________________
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

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#1124035 - 08/01/04 07:06 PM Re: practice techniques
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
Apple - How much theory do you have under your belt? Many years ago when I started college I was a music major for a short while - voice not piano, although I took class piano at that time. I sometimes feel I have just enough theory knowledge to be dangerous, but not enough to really be able to apply it. My teacher said it would be great if I could take a theory class, but I can't do that because they only hold them during the school-year at 8:00 a.m.and I am a teacher. I get lost when she starts talking tonics, dominants, subdominants and all that stuff. I know it technically, but I don't recognize it and apply it. Same with chord structures. I wish there was a way to get up to speed on all this really fast. I feel it holds me back from becoming a much better sight-reader. She has had me doing scales, which I have never done a lot of and it is helping in recognizing arpeggios and scales in Bach and Clementi, especially.
_________________________
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

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#1124036 - 08/02/04 07:22 AM Re: practice techniques
Roxane Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/02
Posts: 932
When I got back to the piano after a 17-year break, I was determined to work on my technique even if it meant playing nothing but exercises. I know from previous playing that my interpretation is pretty good, but my technique (or lack of it) had always kept me back.

I have at least 2 technical exercises at any time: one specifically for the right hand (lots of these abound), and one for the left hand (Czerny mostly). As I child I hated exercises, to my detriment. But now I derive much pleasure from practising these (the Czerny exercises are quite tuneful) because I could really see myself improving steadily. Exercises are important because they isolate specific areas and allow you to practise these in a far more effective manner.

Now that I have worked on exercises for close to 3 years, playing normal pieces have become so much easier because I have already practised most of the patterns and motifs before and all I have to do is to concentrate on the music and its interpretation.

As adults, we can be much more disciplined than children when it comes to exercises. However, we live in a culture of instant gratification and people want to run before they can walk. Just playing lots of pieces, even difficult ones, may be fun but one may also pick up a lot of bad habits which become very difficult to undo later. Without proper foundation, one will also be limited in the repetoire that one can play well. Although many of us have no aspiration to be a concert artist, I, for one, find much satisfaction in taking on challenges and facing them with a good arsenal instead of heading in armed with nothing but hope. In the end, the only one who is deluded is ourselves.

Btw, my piano teacher wishes more of her students could be like me and see the value of exercises! \:D

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#1124037 - 08/02/04 07:29 AM Re: practice techniques
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
 Quote:
Originally posted by teachum:
Apple - How much theory do you have under your belt?
\[/b]
Absolutely none. I've taught myself. I am a church musician (on the side)and so much of what I need to do, consists of skills that demand theory knowledge... changing keys, transcribing organ for piano and vice versa, creating piano arrangements from orchestrated or guitar accompanied pieces. I just bought an Estonia, all my children will be in school full time for the first time come fall, and I get to take lessons, get another piano job and be little miss pianist.

My search for a teacher includes theory acquisition.... which I'm not really looking for forward to but.......
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1124038 - 08/02/04 07:42 AM Re: practice techniques
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
Wow! I really hate and admire people like you! If feels like everything I know about music I've had to really work at. I do have good ears, but I don't trust myself enough to improvise or get away from the sheet music. I would be willing to bet you "understand" way more than you think you do about theory - you just don't have the offical "learning" of it. I dug out my theory books last night from college and it's amazing how much I did "learn", but have not used for years. A good book is Theory for Practical People by Ed Roseman. My sister recommended it to me and she is way more accomplished that me. I believe she heard about it from Sonata in Vermont. It presents theory in a very fun, interesting way and is intended for everyone from those who can't "read" at all to much more accomplished musicians. I think it's worth the investment. http://www.edly.com is his website.
_________________________
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

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#1124039 - 08/02/04 03:02 PM Re: practice techniques
Frank R Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 569
Loc: Anaheim Hills, CA
From Roxane:
 Quote:
As adults, we can be much more disciplined than children when it comes to exercises. However, we live in a culture of instant gratification and people want to run before they can walk. Just playing lots of pieces, even difficult ones, may be fun but one may also pick up a lot of bad habits which become very difficult to undo later. Without proper foundation, one will also be limited in the repetoire that one can play well. Although many of us have no aspiration to be a concert artist, I, for one, find much satisfaction in taking on challenges and facing them with a good arsenal instead of heading in armed with nothing but hope. In the end, the only one who is deluded is ourselves.
Roxane,

Thank you for this. I keep reading about people that are playing original scores of level 5/6, rather than simplified arrangements when they have been playing for only a short time. My teacher has told me several times exactly what you have expressed above. I appreciate the reenforcement. Although many of the pieces I have worked through are arrangements and not as pleasing to the ear or as satisfying as the original, I know that the work being done is for fora reason and not to build repertoire. Hopefully, the long term results will payoff. Thanks again.
_________________________
Keep a song in your heart!

Frank
--------------------------
It's not who we are that holds us back, it's who we think we're not!

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#1124040 - 08/02/04 03:16 PM Re: practice techniques
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
Great post, Roxanne. I too need to do more technical exercises. I fit a lot of what you described. I need to apply my student abilities to piano in the same way I did to finishing my college degree as an adult!
_________________________
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

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#1124041 - 08/02/04 03:26 PM Re: practice techniques
NoteWorthy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/02/03
Posts: 90
Loc: TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by teachum:
My teacher said it would be great if I could take a theory class, but I can't do that because they only hold them during the school-year at 8:00 a.m.and I am a teacher. [/b]
Funny.. I'll be starting as a music major this fall and the theory classes are offered at the same time. I wonder if this is to punish us for not doing "real" majors. \:D
_________________________
"His name is John Brown!" - the DH.

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#1124042 - 08/02/04 06:04 PM Re: practice techniques
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
Yeah - too bad I was convinced many years ago that Music wasn't a real major that would take me anywhere. Not good enough to be a pro in anything and who would want to "just teach". Ironically, here I am all these years later "just teaching." Not music, however. Oh well - at least I still have music in my life!
_________________________
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

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#1124043 - 08/02/04 06:07 PM Re: practice techniques
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
(I assure you teachum) I have put in zillions of practice hours. That's what I do if I can.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1124044 - 08/03/04 09:28 AM Re: practice techniques
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
I don't do techical exercises. I asked my current teacher at my first lesson with her if i needed to, and she said my technique was fine.

In terms of practice, I do pretty much what Ryan posted. Lots of slow practice, small sections, hands seperate, put the two hands together, put the sections together, lots of repitition. Sometimes I memorize as I go along, sometimes I don't - depends on the piece. I practice with a metronome about 1% of the time.

Once the piece is learned, I finish up memorizing it, work out any rough spots by practicing in rhythms, or hs, or whatever works.

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#1124045 - 08/03/04 11:17 AM Re: practice techniques
Frank R Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 569
Loc: Anaheim Hills, CA
Had to e-mail Ryan's response to Apple to my teacher. He will definitely appreciate it. He pounds on this exact stuff on a regular basis. Every time I am having a problem with a difficult part in a piece he gives me, "THAT LOOK" and the conversation is pretty much over. Slow practice, counting until it's CLEAN. It works every time. Why do I fight it?
_________________________
Keep a song in your heart!

Frank
--------------------------
It's not who we are that holds us back, it's who we think we're not!

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#1124046 - 08/03/04 12:27 PM Re: practice techniques
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
I hope I'm not duplicating what others have said too much, but I think I'm falling in love with my metronome!

When I first began playing, I considered the metronome an annoying nuisance -- it forced me to play things slowly even if I could be flashy and play them fast.

Lately, though, I've been using the metronome for some very effective polishing of pieces. I set it for a somewhat slow speed (say, 88 for eighth notes for my current piece, which is still under performance tempo). Then I start the piece. Each place I have a bobble means I stop, crank the metronome way down (say, 50) and play the problem spot at 50. When I get it, I go to 52, then 54, and so on, back to 88. Then I keep going and attack the next problem spot.

A good hunk of a practice session can be spent on one phrase, but I will knock it out eventually. I like not having to keep guess whether I've mastered a trouble spot.
_________________________
Vote For Cindy!!

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#1124047 - 08/03/04 12:41 PM Re: practice techniques
jdsher Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/04
Posts: 643
Loc: Plano, Texas
Cindy, what you are describing is exactly what my piano teacher recommends. I rarely use my metronome, which is bad. I broke it out for my son the other day and it worked wonders on his timing.
As far as practice techniques, I warm up with scales, arpeggios, and some Hanon like drills. Then I practice repetoire and finish with sightreading.
Jon
_________________________
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein

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#1124048 - 08/03/04 01:19 PM Re: practice techniques
nycebo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/04
Posts: 23
Loc: New York, NY
Teachum, that is great advice. I just started taking up the piano again (just bought a new one last week and took my first lesson in 20 years yesterday) and I am very psyched. Your recommendation to break practice up into three segments is a great idea. I am anxious to give it a shot tonight.

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#1124049 - 08/03/04 03:26 PM Re: practice techniques
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
Nycebo - I can't take credit for the great idea. I got it from Charles Cooke's book Playing Piano for Pleasure. HE got it from all the great pianists he interviewed over the years. Great ideas should be shared!

Today my teacher limited me to just FOUR measures of a the Bach Prelude in D Major we are working on. The rhythm is so tricky and I have a hard time doing it hands separately because I need one hand to be the metronome and timing agent for the other. GRRRR!!!On the other hand the Chopin Nocturne is coming beautifully.

Apple - persistence is 95% of success! Those zillions of hours pay off. Just wish I hadn't wasted so many the past few years. But I guess you can't really call starting a new career and a whole new life-style a waste. Time to make up for lost time now!
_________________________
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

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#1124050 - 08/03/04 06:54 PM Re: practice techniques
Tocca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/19/04
Posts: 56
Loc: Sweden
One thing about practising i learned the hard way when i was young, was to never stop and replay parts when you lost your way!

This is of course when you've learned the piece fairly good and are practising perfecting it, when you try to memorize it and so on.

From when i started at the age of seven until the age of eleven or so, i had always stopped when i didn't remember a part or played something really wrong.
While performing a piece for 400 people (my teacher was a member of a pianoteacher society, and twice a year we held concert with all theese students) i suddenly got lost and couldn't for my life remember a certain part of the piece.
I stopped playing and went back a bit and tried again...

Well, it ended with me leaving the piano without finishing the piece!
We had a long talk about this, my teacher and i, and she then learned that i always stopped and replayed parts i played wrong.

This is the worst thing you can do!!
Make sure to ALWAYS continue playing in theese situation, just remember where you played wrong and then go back and practise that part after you finish.

Stopping like this while practising will become a habit that is very hard to break even when performing.
It took my a long time to really break this habit, but once i did i felt much more secure while performing.

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#1124051 - 08/03/04 08:27 PM Re: practice techniques
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
a great advice, Tocca, which i'll surely try to remember since i had such a habit too.

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#1124052 - 08/03/04 10:07 PM Re: practice techniques
nan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/12/04
Posts: 140
Loc: San Francisco
Lots of great advice here. Tocca, that surely is my problem -- I thought that was the way to do it (stop and restart). But your point to keep practicing thru the mistakes to finish the piece makes sense. I'll try working on that.

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#1124053 - 08/04/04 03:25 AM Re: practice techniques
Tocca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/19/04
Posts: 56
Loc: Sweden
A note: If you play wrong notes all the time, or forget where you are every other measure... you're just not ready to play the entire piece yet! \:\)
Even if trying to play from memory like this is a good way to see if you've memorized it, it might lead to learning things wrongly, picking up a wrong note or something that'll take time to change later.

Changing a bad habit, be it a wrongly played note or stopping to replay or whatever, is probably the most timeconsuming thing in pianopractise! \:\)
You'd be surprised how well a wrongly learned note can stick to memory.

Sometimes if i pick up a piece i haven't played for lots of years i have no idea how it goes. But once i start learning it a little, and get the tempo up suddenly the fingers just finds their way automatically.
IF i had learned the wrong note back when i initially learned that piece, you can bet that i'll play that wrong note now!
And it'll take an obscene amount of practise to get that bad habit really cleared from memory!
Probably ten times the practise it would take to learn it otherwise.

So in combination with not replaying mistakes, make sure you get it right from the beginning.

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#1124054 - 08/04/04 07:15 AM Re: practice techniques
nycebo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/04
Posts: 23
Loc: New York, NY
What should happen in lessons? If you're a beginner, shouldn't the teacher work through the whole piece of music with you until you understand the nuances, or should she just work you through it once and then send you home to work on it by yourself? As a student, I think I prefer the former, but I wonder which is ultimately better for you in the long run.

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#1124055 - 08/04/04 11:34 AM Re: practice techniques
jdsher Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/04
Posts: 643
Loc: Plano, Texas
nycebo: when I first started my teacher watched me pretty closely, but now she just listens to the whole piece and then makes comments and suggestions.
Jon
_________________________
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein

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#1124056 - 08/04/04 11:57 AM Re: practice techniques
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Good question, nycebo. It should be interesting to compare notes on this.

In my 45-minute lesson, we usually start with scales, cadences and Hanon, and then we do a short sight reading exercise after that. This takes 10 minutes or less, I'd guess. I either pass (and she assigns me a new major or minor key for the next week) or I fail and I have to keep working on the same key.

Then I'll usually have three performance pieces I'm working on in various stages of completion. She always seems to want to start with the weakest of these three, but I usually resist and plead to do the one that I've practiced the most! Then I'll play the piece, and she won't say a word -- she only interrupts if I'm clearly stuck. She hardly ever talks while I'm playing, which is good, because that throws me off. I can't tweak things while someone is talking me through it.

When I'm finished, she'll back me up and correct the rhythym in this measure, the dynamics in that measure, wrong notes, fingering glitches, and she'll usually pull out the dreaded metronome at some point. Then we'll move on to the next section of the piece that I haven't gotten to yet, and she'll have me play it hands alone, writing in fingering if needed. Then we're done with that piece for the lesson and we go on to the next one.

This is all highly variable -- if a recital is coming, we'll spend the entire lesson on that one piece. And sometimes I get the urge to talk theory -- especially if I haven't practiced enough and want to distract her! ;\)

I'd love to hear how other teachers run their lessons, though.
_________________________
Vote For Cindy!!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post...QvjrL_blog.html

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#1124057 - 08/05/04 07:16 AM Re: practice techniques
Tocca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/19/04
Posts: 56
Loc: Sweden
Here's another little snippet about practising. Especially the first couple of years it's often difficult (if you don't have a teacher guiding you) to know which pieces you'll be able to play.

Commiting to a piece that is beyond your capabilities can sometimes be fun, but it's a bit dangerous too and it can be frustrating having devoted lots of hours only to find that that last page is beyond what you can handle!

So, one way to judge a piece without commiting that much time is to pick the toughest part of the piece.
Pick two or three measures, depending on the phrasing, and practise thoose measures.
Start with seperate hands, practising slowly until you've memorized it.
Then practise SMALL parts, like just a couple of notes or a measure at the most until you get it up to speed.
When you have both hands up to speed, put them together and see if you can get the whole thing up to speed without mistakes and without stressing yourself.

If you can play this part well, you'll know that you can manage the rest of the piece...AND an added bonus is that once you're finished with the piece you will have practised the toughest part much more than the rest, so you'll be less likely to stumble on that difficult part.

Remember that if it takes hours upon hours to get two or three measure up to speed, it will probably be too much work for you to learn the entire piece, even if you manage to play that hard part well.

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#1124058 - 08/05/04 08:57 AM Re: practice techniques
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
Tocca, you're absolutely right and it is a great advice again. i have read the similar method a while ago.

a couple years ago, i tried to learn Chopin's prelude no.7 op.28 starting from the beginning, which i was even surprised i could handle most part until i got to that monstrous chord at bar 12. it was just something my hands simply could not reach in any ways i tried, so i just gave the piece up. i was not ready for such pieces anyway then. only recently i find out a fingering for playing that chord and my hands could now handle it better with rolling action, although totally cover the chord with my fingers at the same time is still beyond my physical reach.

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#1124059 - 08/05/04 09:37 AM Re: practice techniques
Tocca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/19/04
Posts: 56
Loc: Sweden
Yes, playing chords that you can't reach makes the piece more difficult than for thoose with big hands. But almost no matter how big your hands are (mine are probably a bit over average atleast) you will always need that rolling chord technice from time to time.

So, the advantage of having small hands (just a theory of mine, don't take it too seriously!) is that you'll get much more practise on rolling the chords and will be able to play theese types of chords better than others. \:\)

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#1124060 - 08/05/04 08:40 PM Re: practice techniques
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
thanks, Tocca, you make me feel a lot better!

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