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#1533192 - 10/11/10 03:02 PM What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces?
rov Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 85
Loc: Mexico
Hi, What the best to attack the difficult passages in a piece?
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#1533198 - 10/11/10 03:21 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: rov]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York
It depends. smile
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#1533199 - 10/11/10 03:22 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: rov]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Skip them.
Who needs the headache?

No, seriously start with the most difficult passages by dissecting them in a divide and conquer fashion.
Only after you have slowly learning the difficult passages move on to the easy parts.
Learn the fugue, then the prelude.

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#1533201 - 10/11/10 03:23 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: rov]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York
....but seriously folks..... smile

I think this would start covering the possibilities:

1. Practice smile
2. If that doesn't work, practice harder.
3. If that doesn't work, try to figure out exactly what's so hard, and why it's not coming, and see if you can figure out how to remedy it. Like.....
4. Changing your fingering (very common necessity). Or....
5. Something else.

If none of that works, maybe....

6. The piece is too hard for you. smile
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#1533206 - 10/11/10 03:35 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: theJourney]
JGonzalezGUS Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/22/09
Posts: 191
Loc: Florida, USA
Originally Posted By: theJourney
start with the most difficult passages by dissecting them in a divide and conquer fashion.
Only after you have slowly learning the difficult passages move on to the easy parts.

I agree. For example, in Mozart (my favorite) K331 1st movement, I started with variation 6 (the hardest one), then variation 5 (because for me the slow singing is hard to play well all the articulation), then the rest of the 1st movent.
On a sonata-form movement I start with the exposition and hardest passages from elsewhere. Only after I have exposition and developemnt memorized do I tackle the recapitulation in earnest.
Also, I give extra practice time to beginning and ending (first and last 10-20 measures, depending, of course). Nothing spoils a performance more than a shaky beginning or a messed up ending.
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Jose
Kawai K5 - Kawai CA61

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#1533208 - 10/11/10 03:41 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: rov]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6064
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: rov
Hi, What the best to attack the difficult passages in a piece?


First.
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#1533211 - 10/11/10 03:44 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: Damon]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: rov
Hi, What the best to attack the difficult passages in a piece?
First.

LOL!

Took me a while to come close to getting what you meant smile but I agree.
(And I see that Journey said it too.)
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#1533213 - 10/11/10 03:44 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: rov]
DameMyra Online   happy
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 1940
Loc: South Jersey
6. The piece is too hard for you.

But don't despair. Just one little addendum to Mark_C's post.

...at this point in your pianistic progress.
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Private Piano Teacher
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#1533248 - 10/11/10 04:31 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: rov]
Bruce Siegel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/08/04
Posts: 46
Loc: Los Angeles
I think of it this way. If a passage is too difficult to play, I need to simplify it so I can play it. And there are essentially 3 ways to do that:

1. Play one hand at a time.
2. Play slowly. (Or very, very, slowly.)
3. Play just a tiny fragment of it. Maybe just a few notes!

Sometimes you have to combine 2 or even all 3 of the above.

I sometimes ask my students to recite back to me all 3 methods, so I'll know they really know how to practice!
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#1533253 - 10/11/10 04:36 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: Bruce Siegel]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3708
Loc: Bay Area, CA
One variation on the original question (which I know has been covered elsewhere): speed.

If I'm trying to get a piece to q=144 and I can play it solidly at q=120, should I just practice it at q=120, and slowly try to raise that speed? Or is it worth my time to also practice it *much* slower, say at q=80 or even q=60?

-Jason
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#1533264 - 10/11/10 04:46 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: rov]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
I would recommend skipping straight to the "dissection" stage, for those parts you know are going to be a problem. Most problems reduce to exactly two notes with an "impossible" transition between them, and when you solve the so-called impossible thing, then you can re-build everything else around it if necessary. Generally, practicing a whole passage will get you where you want to go - eventually; but it wastes a lot of your time to do that. If you eliminate all the easy parts, cutting out every note that's already OK, then you can tackle "just the bad stuff" head on and you'll be much more sure of your own progress.
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#1533268 - 10/11/10 04:52 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: beet31425]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: beet31425
One variation on the original question (which I know has been covered elsewhere): speed.

If I'm trying to get a piece to q=144 and I can play it solidly at q=120, should I just practice it at q=120, and slowly try to raise that speed? Or is it worth my time to also practice it *much* slower, say at q=80 or even q=60?
Practicing at extreme slow speed (so slowly that the musicality is completely gone) can be very helpful. If you don't play slow enough to remove every trace of "music", then you don't get the same effect IMO. How slow that will turn out to be, depends on the piece.
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#1533269 - 10/11/10 04:54 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: beet31425]
Bruce Siegel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/08/04
Posts: 46
Loc: Los Angeles
Jason, I find it useful to practice at a variety of tempos. Often it helps to gradually increase the tempo as you described. And, it can also be really useful to take a piece you can already play up to tempo, and practice it at a very slow tempo. It's amazing what little nuances and details you can continue to polish that way.

On the other hand, sometimes the only way to practice a passage effectively, is to take just a tiny portion of it—maybe just a few notes—and play it up to tempo right from the start! And that's because otherwise, you may be practicing a passage with fingering or technique that works well at a slow tempo, but does not work when you play up to tempo. Make sense?
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#1533271 - 10/11/10 04:55 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: Bruce Siegel]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York
I think this discussion is going way past the OP. smile
(Perhaps not knowable without having been on prior threads.)

Which is fine, as long as we realize we're talking to one another, but not to him/her.
This often happens. smile
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"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1533292 - 10/11/10 05:31 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: rov]
Minaku Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
I employ plenty of different practice techniques. It depends on what my problem is and how best I think I should fix it. Like if a passage is muddy, then I need to practice without the pedal. If it's still unclear or I am unable to play hands separately from memory then that's a problem with the piece's concept in my head. In that case I'd say I lack an aural image of what I want. If I have no idea what I want it to sound like, no wonder it will come out unclear and garbled!

If it's a technical problem, the way to fix that is to take it apart and turn it into exercises. Blocking, arpeggiating, and playing in rhythms help here.

If it's a memorization problem, methods available to me are harmonic and formal analysis, followed by playing the chord structure as I sing the melody.

If it's a melodic problem then I tend to isolate the line and sing it, then play it how I sung it. I sing and play at the same time and then try to transfer that aural image to the piano.

Anyway, there are plenty of ways to practice. Doesn't always have to be the same old same old all the time.
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#1533700 - 10/12/10 09:15 AM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: rov]
Stanza Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1458
Loc: Chapel Hill, NC
The best advice I can give is to have the realization that the tough parts are frequently the best parts.
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Estonia L190 #7004
Casio PX 310
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#1533738 - 10/12/10 10:02 AM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: rov]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4526
Loc: in the past
Jack Daniels.
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#1533741 - 10/12/10 10:07 AM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: Pogorelich.]
Keith D Kerman Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3302
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Jack Daniels.


Absolut ely.

Is this for you or the audience, cause either way...... wink
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keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#1533757 - 10/12/10 10:44 AM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: rov]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4526
Loc: in the past
Oh hey you just gave me a good idea! For the audience! Should have an open bar before my next recital...!
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'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1533763 - 10/12/10 10:55 AM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: Pogorelich.]
Rui725 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/19/09
Posts: 953
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Jack Daniels.


lol x 1000

I wish everyone shared the same connection and love for classical piano and booze.

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#1533773 - 10/12/10 11:12 AM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: rov]
Bart Kinlein Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 715
Loc: Maryland
Quote:
Also, I give extra practice time to beginning and ending (first and last 10-20 measures, depending, of course). Nothing spoils a performance more than a shaky beginning or a messed up ending.


Wow, I sure agree with that!
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Yahama CVP-401
Will somone get my wife off the Steinway so I can play it!

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#1533782 - 10/12/10 11:19 AM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: rov]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
I would second the motion on the slow approach and tearing apart segments into the smallest pieces possible. Stay away from the pedal so you can hear everything you're doing. I like to add varying dynamics and attacks....i.e. slowly with staccato. I'm not scared away by difficult pieces perhaps because I don't have a timeline on when they need to be ready. Good repertoire becomes a part of your life. Learn the pieces you love and you'll want to play them forever.

rada

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#1534161 - 10/12/10 08:37 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: Pogorelich.]
Arghhh Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 1048
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Jack Daniels.


That's scary. sick

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#1534223 - 10/12/10 10:32 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: rov]
chihuahua Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/05/09
Posts: 391
Loc: An Oligarchy
Someone in this forum will
tell you to start with one
measure at a time and repeat
that measure over a loooooong
time until you can play it at
a slow speed. This you will do
with every and any piece until
you are able to play the piece
but probably not at a "professional"
speed, as most of us are not born
with that "gifted" ability too do
the Rach 3. So you could practically
start a beginner with the Rach 3
and with enough time, have him play
the first phrase of the Rach 3 smile
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#1534255 - 10/12/10 11:28 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: Arghhh]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4526
Loc: in the past
Originally Posted By: Arghhh
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Jack Daniels.


That's scary. sick


Or yummy smirk
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1534256 - 10/12/10 11:29 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: Pogorelich.]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6064
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Originally Posted By: Arghhh
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Jack Daniels.


That's scary. sick


Or yummy smirk


Michael Collins is better. laugh
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#1534263 - 10/12/10 11:34 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: Pogorelich.]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8818
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Jack Daniels.

But surely you mix it with something? wink

Beer and wine bloke myself. I'm very snobbish about my wine grin (don't drink the white stuff), but I do miss the beer in the UK. Very hard -if not impossible- to get here in the States. Oh for a pint of Carling!
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#1534264 - 10/12/10 11:34 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: Damon]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2114
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Originally Posted By: Arghhh
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Jack Daniels.


That's scary. sick


Or yummy smirk


Michael Collins is better. laugh

Are you talking about my badass structural engineering professor? laugh
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#1534267 - 10/12/10 11:38 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: argerichfan]
Rui725 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/19/09
Posts: 953
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Jack Daniels.

But surely you mix it with something? wink

Beer and wine bloke myself. I'm very snobbish about my wine grin (don't drink the white stuff), but I do miss the beer in the UK. Very hard -if not impossible- to get here in the States. Oh for a pint of Carling!


OT, but Same tastes as me! I'm very picky about wine and always never drink the white stuff. I maybe assuming, but from my experience, I think girls stick with hard liquor shots (tequila etc) because of beer and carbonated stuff makes them feel bloated or something. Same amount of alcohol in less volume of liquid.

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#1534268 - 10/12/10 11:39 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: Kuanpiano]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8818
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano

Are you talking about my badass structural engineering professor? laugh

Or the Irish revolutionary?
_________________________
Jason

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#1534269 - 10/12/10 11:39 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: argerichfan]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4526
Loc: in the past
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Jack Daniels.

But surely you mix it with something? wink

Beer and wine bloke myself. I'm very snobbish about my wine grin (don't drink the white stuff), but I do miss the beer in the UK. Very hard -if not impossible- to get here in the States. Oh for a pint of Carling!


Is it true you English people drink beer warm? Tsk tsk tsk..

And no, don't mix Jack Daniels!! Except if you have some ice too haha
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1534275 - 10/12/10 11:46 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: Rui725]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8818
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Rui725

OT, but Same tastes as me! I'm very picky about wine and always never drink the white stuff.

A secret I shall share. The envelope please...

Do you have Trader Joe's where you live? They have a rather good Cabernet Sauvignon for only $2.99 a bottle! When I bring it to parties, I never divulge the price, and no one is any wiser. People happily drink it, what more could we ask for?

Nuts to the expensive froggie French stuff.
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Jason

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#1534277 - 10/12/10 11:51 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: Pogorelich.]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8818
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.

Is it true you English people drink beer warm? Tsk tsk tsk..

No, No, No!

That's very old fashioned, we like our beer COLD. Long gone are the days of marmite and baked beans for breakfast, though I do understand some Brits still seem to get off on that stuff.
_________________________
Jason

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#1534278 - 10/12/10 11:51 PM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: argerichfan]
Rui725 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/19/09
Posts: 953
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Rui725

OT, but Same tastes as me! I'm very picky about wine and always never drink the white stuff.

A secret I shall share. The envelope please...

Do you have Trader Joe's where you live? They have a rather good Cabernet Sauvignon for only $2.99 a bottle! When I bring it to parties, I never divulge the price, and no one is any wiser. People happily drink it, what more could we ask for?

Nuts to the expensive froggie French stuff.






Yes! I have the same philosophy. I good bottle of Cab should never cost of $10USD.


Edited by Rui725 (10/12/10 11:52 PM)

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#1534287 - 10/13/10 12:07 AM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: Rui725]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8818
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Rui725

Yes! I have the same philosophy. I good bottle of Cab should never cost of $10USD.

thumb

I'm rapidly becoming very Americanized. My new American friends have it down quite well: start with a semi-expensive bottle to titillate the palette, then work our way down the wine chain.

I like this philosophy. We still get toasted, and then who cares about the French or even Napa Valley for that matter. Cheers!
_________________________
Jason

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#1534452 - 10/13/10 08:18 AM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: argerichfan]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6064
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.

Is it true you English people drink beer warm? Tsk tsk tsk..

No, No, No!


It's about time you Europeans left the dark ages and caught up with Americans. You would have thought the Enlightenment never happened in England! laugh
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#1534455 - 10/13/10 08:21 AM Re: What do you do with the difficult passages in pieces? [Re: Kuanpiano]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6064
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Originally Posted By: Arghhh
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Jack Daniels.


That's scary. sick


Or yummy smirk


Michael Collins is better. laugh

Are you talking about my badass structural engineering professor? laugh


Well since we are talking about whiskey, my guess is that it is some Irish historical figure and not your professor. shocked
_________________________
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