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Topic Options
#1981710 - 11/02/12 11:15 AM Practise Times
jnjude Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/11
Posts: 5
Loc: UK
Hi All

I would think this would be a common question so if its been asked before please point me in the right direction.

I am a begginer of around 9 months and my question is about the amount of time spent practising. Presently I spend half an hour each day practising. If I were to spend one hour a day would that be twice as good, and if I were to spend two hours a day would that be four times as good? Of my half hour a day, is it better for this to be 2 quarter hour sessions, or three, ten minute sessions. Basically I am looking for the most efficient, and I well realise that it will vary from person to person. But for all that I would be surprised if somebody had not done some research in this area on a general basis.

A second question, is there any finger exercises that can be done away from the piano to enhance the independance of the fingers of each hand. Not sure if question this is very understandable. My problem is if I play one handed, either hand, then I have little problems and can play at a reasonable speed. Once its a two handed piece of music then while I can still play it, the speed I play drops by at least one order of magnetude :-) Now I expect this will come with time, but I was wondering if there were ways of enhancing it.

Thanks for any replies.

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#1981716 - 11/02/12 11:36 AM Re: Practise Times [Re: jnjude]
malkin Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 3786
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
You are correct; there is much discussion about practice on the forum.

The biggest issue is how you spend your practice time.
Everything in moderation, including moderation. --Oscar Wilde

#1981720 - 11/02/12 11:39 AM Re: Practise Times [Re: jnjude]
CarlosCC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 1936
Loc: Lisbon, Portugal
Hi jnjude, and welcome.
Practising time and progress aren't a result of a mathematical equation... Each person has a development curve and your progress depends on hability, dedication and pleasure.
I'm sure you will find a way to achieve your goals. As far as my experience tells, I know it's important to play every single day, even if only for 10 minutes.

For the second question, I have a plan for you:
1st: practice
2nd: practice
3rd: practice
Repeat as many times as you can, until you die of exhaustion.

SoundCloud | Youtube
Self-taught since Dec2009
"Don't play what's there, play what's not there."

#1981737 - 11/02/12 12:05 PM Re: Practise Times [Re: jnjude]
monads Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/12
Posts: 167
Loc: CA
Agree with the comments above. You might also want to read "The Muscian's Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance..." by Klickstein. I found the practice section of the book insightful (i.e. dividing practice sessions, troubleshooting spots in a score, etc.)
My music_website at http://www.OdysseyofaG.com

#1981747 - 11/02/12 12:25 PM Re: Practise Times [Re: jnjude]
Farmerjones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 386
Loc: Midwest USA
It was a big/long thread, but it was still a good read.
How much do you practice?
BTW I'm still a bad example. smile
view my profile for a link to my YT page.

#1981754 - 11/02/12 12:39 PM Re: Practise Times [Re: jnjude]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 13140
Loc: Canada
The most important thing is how and "what" you practice. Since I finally have a teacher when my only background before was self teaching as a teen, I'm now concentrating on things I would normally have had as a rank beginner with a good teacher. My weaknesses are in how I sit and balance myself, what I do physically when playing chords or individual notes. So for my own personal "what" I may focus on something I've learned to do for playing chords, and then focus on it while playing a small section of a piece - then another section - then another. Over time this creates new habits that are there sort of automatically. They make playing any piece easier, so that ultimately things are learned faster. I have other "whats", like recognizing chords, how to learn a new piece in stages etc.

If you are focusing on a "what", this takes a lot of concentration, and we can't hold that concentration long. When we are learning new, unfamiliar things as opposed to expanding on an existing skill, the brain tires faster too. So in this sense "longer" is not "better". But if you find you can maintain concentration for 15 - 20 minutes, then several 20-min. sessions rather than one long 2 hour session are better. Also changing your focus can expand your concentration. You can even change your focus while doing the same thing, by working on a different aspect of it - say the right notes, the right rhythm, some awkward section and the reason it's awkward.

I only skimmed the other thread so I hope this isn't a duplication.

Edited by keystring (11/02/12 12:41 PM)

#1981947 - 11/02/12 07:31 PM Re: Practise Times [Re: jnjude]
justpin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
I learnt the hard way and wasted a lot of time.

I used to think all time spent at the piano was practice. It wasn't I used to play for 2-4 hours, Thats PLAY not practice. I like to play though so I don't mine. I deliberately practice for about 30 minutes a day and play for half an hour or so. I lack the energy for more.

Practice needs to be targetted, so essentially:

I want to... (something narrow never anything hugely wide and vague like I want to be a fantastic pianist)

I need to... (to go about it).

For a rookie like me if I get stuck on a bit of a piece, Instead of playing all the way up to the bit I get stuck. I will go directly to the bar and practice that bar a few times. Then the bar before it so smooth it out. Then +1 another bar until it smoothes it all out.

#1982061 - 11/03/12 05:21 AM Re: Practise Times [Re: justpin]
Toastie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/10/12
Posts: 210
Loc: UK
I found that keeping a practice diary has really helped. I now note down the times I spend every day and then I can see what I'm doing each week and it's helped me to see what helps me progress. For instance on weeks when I break it down into smaller chunks throughout the day I make better progress than weeks where I do it as one long session each day. Try keeping a record and looking for patterns in what works for you.

My ideal is half an hour in the morning, half an hour at lunchtime and then at least half an hour in the evening, but it's not always possible. At weekends I do twenty minute sessions all day whenever I'm not doing something else. Or when I'm in the initial stages of learning the notes I like to spend 10 minutes, have a break, then repeat until it's doing my head in. Next day it always seems much better then! I usually do that on a Saturday, as I have my lesson on a Friday so I spend the weekend getting to grips with the new things in small sessions.

Edited by Toastie (11/03/12 05:23 AM)
Complete Beginner August 2012
'Play Piano' Book 1 - finished
'Play Piano' Book 2 - finished
Grade 1 Sight Reading - finished
Grade 1 Exam Pieces
Grade 1 Scales
The Easy Piano Collection Classical Gold
Yamaha U3

#1982185 - 11/03/12 12:35 PM Re: Practise Times [Re: jnjude]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012

Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1275
Loc: Portland, OR
I used to do several 15-20 minute sessions during the day, but lately my attention span is longer and I'm doing 45 minute sessions a couple of times per day. I think it's a matter of balancing how long it takes you to get warmed up and in the groove vs. how long it before you get accident-prone, fretful and/or frustrated.

One thing that has been helping me is to sit down at the computer with a cup of coffee before I start the day's practices, and type out a list of exactly what that day's goals are going to be, being as specific as possible about what I want to achieve. I started noticing how much it sapped my keyboard energy to dither around figuring out precisely what to practice next, so having a very specific list to check off keeps energized and on track. OTOH I'm also inspired by freedom and change, so re-creating my list daily gives me a chance to leverage whatever it is that I'm inspired about on any given day.
Please step aside. You're standing in your own way.

intermittent piano blog

#1982205 - 11/03/12 01:18 PM Re: Practise Times [Re: jnjude]
jotur Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 6277
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I've found that a practice log is helpful, too. And last summer I started a monthly plan for what I want to get done. I list new works, works in progress, and works that should go to repertoire within the month, and then a list for each week of the month of repertoire I want to review. It's been more "hopeful" than "actual" sometimes, mainly because I can see there's at least 3 hours a day worth of practicing to be solid, but at least it spurs me on and I have some sense that I'm getting somewhere when a piece goes into repertoire.

I never spend more than 30 minutes on one piece at a time. I may spend as much as an hour total at a time, but I'll spend it on 2 or 3 pieces, and pick and choose from the things on my monthly plan. So I'm never bored, and there's always something to work on.

The biggest piece of information I've gotten so far is how few times I actually play any one piece as I'm learning it. No wonder it takes 3 months! But with what I have in my plan, and not actually getting in 3 hours a day - more like half that - it shouldn't have been surprising. So I think when I get a break from having so much work, maybe the four day weekend over Thanksgiving, I'll look at revising the monthly plan to see if I could be more efficient. Or at least more realistic laugh Or it might be that there's a different way to approach the number of pieces - I'm leaning towards putting in one sort of full-blown arrangement each month and 2 or 3 really simple ones that I can frilly up a little on the fly when I play.

I've always kept a log of some sort, but when I first started the goal was always just - get thru the next gig laugh - whatever the tunes were for the next dance, I needed to know the oom-pah part. But since that was weekly I did learn to be comfortable with chords in fairly short order, and it's served me really well. It's only since I started playing solo gigs that I've gotten more organized about tracking the practices. But it works for me.


Practice like you are the worst; play like you are the best - anonymous

#1982507 - 11/04/12 07:40 AM Re: Practise Times [Re: jnjude]
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
A practice schedule is useful too, and with room for comments can double as the log. I outline what I want to practice, how much time I want to devote to what pieces, etc. making it very specific. I outline a couple of weeks at a time. If I don't do this I have a tendancy to concentrate on the current (new) piece that obsesses me at the moment to the detriment of everything else which is why my "repetoire" is constantly in tatters. (Before I started with a schedule, the repetoire was non existent. I was totally love 'em and leave 'em about pieces I should have been maintaining.)
Slow down and do it right.

#1982531 - 11/04/12 09:05 AM Re: Practise Times [Re: jnjude]
malkin Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 3786
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
I flag troublesome bits with little post it flags so I don't need to play up to them. I love it when I get those measures ironed out and get to move the flag.
Everything in moderation, including moderation. --Oscar Wilde


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