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#1986413 - 11/14/12 12:23 AM How many pieces do you know by heart??
slpianoproject Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/08/12
Posts: 22
Loc: Qc, Canada
Hi all,

I'm wondering how many complete pieces can you play by heart right now that are at a performance level (not professional but to a standard that represents the best you can do.) For example if someone asks you to play something on the piano, then you play a piece and he asks for more... how long can you continue.

I'm asking because i have to admit there is some time i can't play anything at all. For example right now i've been working on Chopin's Op. 27 no.1 for like 5 weeks. I'm on the polishing phase meaning i got all the notes down and tempo roughly at speed but i would not say i can play it well therefore i wouldn't play that if someone would ask me. Other than that i have 1 piece i can play well and another that is so so (due to not playing it often). Basically my repertoire is 1 piece and a half lol... sad isnt it?


In the last year and a half here is what i've learned and that i could play at a decent level:

Debussy - Arabesque no.1
Chopin - Raindrop prélude
Chopin - Waltz Op.64 no 2
Chopin - Nocturne Op.72 no 1
Chopin - Nocturne Op. 27 no 2 (95% of it, except the "cadenza" i couldn't get up to speed)
Chopin - Waltz Op. 69 no 2
Chopin - Waltz in A minor (posth)
Beethoven - 2nd movement of a sonata i cant remember the op no.
Liszt - Consolation no.3
Mendelssohn - Song without words Op.30 no.1

What i can play today is the Mendelssohn and the A minor waltz that's it. Rest is forgotten. You'ld give me the sheet music and i wouldnt be able to play em as i forgot the fingering and there is no way i can sightread pieces that hard (to me). Is this normal? I mean, maybe its my way to learn that is wrong? What is your trick to remember alot of pieces? Share with me please? I feel all that work is gone to waste lol.

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#1986420 - 11/14/12 12:43 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
kayvee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 135
Loc: Santa Barbara
If they are too hard for you to sight-read (as in, prima vista or even sight-read over and over slowly), they are probably too hard for you to play. This could be why it's hard for you to memorize these pieces, in part.

Have you worked on shorter pieces? How long have you been playing? How much theory would you say you know? Technique? Sight-reading in general?

We'd need to know more about your background before any specific advice could really be given.
_________________________
A linguistics major who loves piano and knows too much theory/history without knowing how to play it as well as he wants to be able to.

Let's hope that changes. Taught piano for almost two years and currently working on:
"Going back to the basics..."

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#1986425 - 11/14/12 12:49 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
HalfStep Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/25/11
Posts: 201
Loc: Boston, MA
My teacher always makes it a point to tell me to go back and repeat/review. I would suggest you take a percentage of your practice time to revisit your previous accomplishments.

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#1986431 - 11/14/12 01:01 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: kayvee]
slpianoproject Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/08/12
Posts: 22
Loc: Qc, Canada
Originally Posted By: kayvee
If they are too hard for you to sight-read (as in, prima vista or even sight-read over and over slowly), they are probably too hard for you to play. This could be why it's hard for you to memorize these pieces, in part.

Have you worked on shorter pieces? How long have you been playing? How much theory would you say you know? Technique? Sight-reading in general?

We'd need to know more about your background before any specific advice could really be given.


Mainly the reason i can't sightread the pieces is because i never really focused on sight reading. A teacher I was with recently point out to me it was seriously lacking and made me practice a litte but there is alot of catching up to do.

I dont have problem memorizing pieces at all, im quite good at it actually. Everything piece i learned is memorized by the time its done and i dont have to put actual efforts into it, it just happens in the process. What im telling is im forgetting it!!!

As for your questions well: I think they're all pretty short pieces... I've been playing for quite a while casually, lets sum it up to maybe 4-5 years? (spread across 20 years with breaks here and there). As far as theory goes, i think i know everything I need to know. Maybe my knowledge of harmony isn't as good as it should be but i know the basics. Technique is decent and sightreading in general is poor as i already told.

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#1986433 - 11/14/12 01:13 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: HalfStep]
slpianoproject Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/08/12
Posts: 22
Loc: Qc, Canada
Originally Posted By: HalfStep
My teacher always makes it a point to tell me to go back and repeat/review. I would suggest you take a percentage of your practice time to revisit your previous accomplishments.


Its what i do (i think we all are) but it seems as time goes by you tend to forget that one note here and there as you work on other stuff.

And sometimes you don't have enough practice time in front of you and you just focus on the new stuff 3-4 days in a row then your away from the piano for 3 more days and BAM you forgot that one little passage. Not saying i dont remember how the piece sounds, its just my fingers just dont know where to go anymore precisely (failing muscle memory sums it up pretty well i think).

I'm less asking for advices than wanting to know how many pieces YOU are able to play when someone asks you? 2..5..15? If someones knows 10-15 pieces it takes alot of time to review doesnt it? laugh

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#1986436 - 11/14/12 01:26 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
kayvee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 135
Loc: Santa Barbara
You don't review them all every day. You choose one or two to review every day, or whatever the case may be.

Also, I doubt most people here will have a number unless that number is very small. I don't know how many pieces I have memorized. And how would I count them? I know dozens of teaching pieces, but I don't really consider them part of my 'repertoire,' even though they are memorized and up to performance standards.

And for 4-5 years spread over 20 years with poor sight-reading focus, I think the pieces you listed are just too hard for you, which is why they are hard to keep in the fingers and mind.
_________________________
A linguistics major who loves piano and knows too much theory/history without knowing how to play it as well as he wants to be able to.

Let's hope that changes. Taught piano for almost two years and currently working on:
"Going back to the basics..."

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#1986438 - 11/14/12 01:27 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: kayvee]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Hey, kayvee, thanks for the awesome feedback on memorization.

I have learned 70 tiny short tunes - but NOT memorized any.

I am currently close to page 30 of John Thompson's Modern Course First Grade book 18 The Fairies' Harp" -

where the book says, "Here is your first real recital piece.
See if you can learn it well enough to play on the next
program presented by your teacher." (self-taught)

>>> I have heard that memorizing a piece working
>>> badkwards to the start is awesome and works well?

I am pepared to take as long as it takes to memorize it - days, weeks, months -

The question to you, kayvee, - or anyone kind enough to answer, please, is:

Q Should I try the regular way of learning the piece by learning a few measures at a time from the start to the end? Yes or No.

Or:

Q Should I try working backwards to the start of the piece? Yes or No.

Thanks for any comments.

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#1986440 - 11/14/12 01:34 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
kayvee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 135
Loc: Santa Barbara
Michael_99,

1) Don't memorize the piece just because the book tells you to do so. This is two part:
a- Memorize music you love! Don't memorize something someone tells you to; you want to learn the music for yourself. So, memorize songs you enjoy (even if they aren't necessarily piano major/recital worthy)
b- There are much better methods than John Thompson. I'm not sure if you'd want to stick with it forever, especially if you've already learned 50-some other pieces. There are other method books and also repertoire collections out there.

2) Everyone has their own technique and style of learning a piece as well as memorizing one. I think the best is to do both. Work on the piece from the beginning to end, or somewhere in the middle, or at the end - typically, start with the hardest part of the piece. Definitely do a few measures at a time. Be able to start a piece from multiple places (not just at the beginning or at the start of a new section).

There really isn't one answer. If there were, everyone would be an amazing player with hundreds of pieces memorized forever. It takes time, and attention to theory and consciously trying to memorize a piece (by thinking about it, analyzing it, etc).
_________________________
A linguistics major who loves piano and knows too much theory/history without knowing how to play it as well as he wants to be able to.

Let's hope that changes. Taught piano for almost two years and currently working on:
"Going back to the basics..."

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#1986460 - 11/14/12 02:41 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5285
Loc: Philadelphia
Right now, I couldn't play anything at performance level if you asked me to. (For me, performance level means professional.) However, if one did not mind the occasional flubbed note, I could probably get through:

1 complete Mozart sonata
3-4 Mozart sonata movements (separate from above)
2 complete Beethoven sonatas
2-3 Beethoven sonata movements (separate from above)
1 Chopin Nocturne
2 Chopin Polonaises
2 Chopin Preludes
1 Chopin Scherzo
3 Rachmaninoff preludes
1 Schubert Impromptu
1 Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody
2-3 Liszt Etudes (Paganini and Transcendental)
5-7 encores (ranging from Lecuona's Malaguena to Horowitz's Stars and Stripes transcription, the latter of course probably sounding worse than the former wink )

In total, 21-24 pieces and an additional 5-7 individual movements of larger works; I would say this represents approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes of music.

Like I said, none of it is performance-ready, but all of it is memorized. Some of the above pieces, I haven't played in 2-3 years, but I know them so well, they would come back with one or two memorized run-throughs (not necessarily to performance caliber, but at least to playable caliber). An example of this is Rachmaninoff's Prelude in G minor (Op 23 No 5). A member here asked for a recording not long ago, and I took a couple run-throughs and played it cold. Not flawlessly, of course, but at least well enough that it was tolerable to listen to.


The biggest mistake I've found beginners make is that they practice something until they play it right. What one should do is practice something until you can't play it wrong. This means the notes are so comfortable and well-ingrained in your hands that even after a time away from the piece, it's still there. If you take a couple weeks off and can no longer play the piece at all, it's probably above your current level. If you take several months or a year away from a piece and can play it flawlessly when you return to it, it's probably beneath your current level.

Much of the memorization for me is memorizing the music, not the notes, and then counting on my knowledge of theory and muscle memory to play correctly. To try and remember over 50,000 individual notes is incredibly difficult. To say that I have done that would probably not be accurate. However, what I could do is mentally play the pieces and work out what the notes should be. In other words, if you asked me to name the notes in Rachmaninoff's prelude (since I used it above), I would have an incredibly difficult time simply remembering G-Bb-D-Bb etc in order. But if I played it in my mind, I would use more than one memorization and recall technique to be able to reconstruct the piece from memory. Don't limit the number of techniques you use to memorize--use them all. It will vastly improve your memory and recall abilities. smile
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1986472 - 11/14/12 03:18 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
Maechre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/12
Posts: 242
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Last year I could play a few Grade 3 - Grade 6 pieces by memory up to performance standard (though slipping up sometimes when nervous).

After this first year of my Ad. Dip in Music Performance, I've forgotten how most of them really go. I couldn't play any of them now from start to finish, correctly.

I've been working on my sight-reading for the past two years, and I'm starting to notice myself getting better. I can often read ahead about a bar at this level, recognising patterns more quickly, and soon I'm going to take it up a level.

I value the ability to sight-read much, much more over memorization. This is where my effort's been going, and it's starting to pay dividends.

Not that you should necessarily work on your sight-reading as much as I do (I play at least one piece at my level daily, usually more) -- everyone wants different skills in piano, and sight-reading is just so rewarding for me that I sit down and do it every day, feeling great afterwards.

I figure when I can sight-read really well, those pieces that I can't play anymore will be easy to learn again, and harder pieces will be within my grasp.

(I'm sure having fairly good technique and theory knowledge thanks to my course has helped my sight-reading as well.)
_________________________
I love sight-reading! One day I will master it.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Acrozius?feature=mhee

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#1986480 - 11/14/12 04:12 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: kayvee]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
kayvee,

Thanks.

- Love playing all my tunes all the time.
- Will only memorizes something I love.

- >>>>> There are much better methods than John Thompson. I'm not sure if you'd want to stick with it forever, especially if you've already learned 50-some other pieces.
There are other method books and also repertoire collections out there.

I love to play "anything" and "any method" and to be the best that I can. I am trying to get good enough to start to play any classical music.

>>>>>>> So. Please. Recommend ANY method or methods you would recommend - to get me to classical music - the short or long road - I am here to play/learn until I drop dead.


I have the complete books
of these methods: of Leila Fletcher - worked through book 1 done

of John Thompson - started working through
book 1 now
of Michael Aaron -
started working
through book 1 now as extra material
of John W. Schaum
of Suzuki piano school
new internationa edition

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#1986483 - 11/14/12 04:26 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: kayvee]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Also, note, kayvee, when I listed the method books I have -
when I say recommend any method - I mean any method - excluding these books - I want the best recommendation - forget what I have in my library.
Thanks.

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#1986496 - 11/14/12 06:03 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
CarlosCC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 1307
Loc: Lisboa, Portugal
I can't resist when I find a piano... I've to play it... no matter where.

I can play (by memory) up to performance standard, during appr. 2 hours. Some of those were sent to ABF recitals:

Ludovico Einaudi:
- Come un Fiore
- Nefeli
- Tu Sei
- Monday
- Canzone Popolare (1500 ca.) - covered by me smile
- Dietro L'Incanto
- Password
- Indaco (Royal Albert Hall version)
- The Snow Prelude nº15
- In Principio
- Doce Droga
- I Due Fiumi (plus "La Scala bridge")
- La nascita delle cose segrete
- Julia

And others, like:
- No Holly for Miss Quinn - Enya
- Embers - Helen Jane Long
- And another half-dozen of my own (nothing serious, just for fun ...)

This is a never-ending-story because I'm always polishing all of them and learning new things.
_________________________

CarlosCC records
Self-learning since 12/2009
"Don't play what's there, play what's not there."

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#1986504 - 11/14/12 06:32 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
justpin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
About 5 pieces.

A simplified arrangement of Moonlight sonata (first song I ever learnt)

Lovers Theme by Herve roy, Yes that Lovers theme from two girls one cup.

heck march (red alert theme song) its a very FFF piece.

Simplified turkish march.

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#1986557 - 11/14/12 09:02 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
aTallGuyNH Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/22/12
Posts: 500
Zero.

I'm just starting, but find I forget easily.

I'm trying to improve this by:

1) Going back as suggested above.
2) Once memorized (which comes easily to me as well with sufficient repetition) I need to resist the temptation to stare at my hands. I think if I continue to read the music then my muscle memory will get in synch with my eyes.

I figure that forgetting is inevitable, especially as my repetoire grows. But if I'm as far from prima vista as possible then it will be that much easier to reacquire the piece subsequently.

I'm pretty sure it can only help with prima vista as well. Not looking at the hands and keeping eyes on the music was a big emphasis of my daughter's teacher.


Edited by aTallGuyNH (11/14/12 09:32 AM)
Edit Reason: typos
_________________________
"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"

XXIX-XXXII

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#1986559 - 11/14/12 09:08 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1239
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
4

Chopsticks
Heart and Soul
Rocky Top
12 Bar Blues

I make no attempt to memorize anything.
_________________________
Laugh More
Yamaha G7 - Roland FP7

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#1986583 - 11/14/12 10:23 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
Greener Offline

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014


Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1163
Loc: Toronto
Quote:
How many pieces do you know by heart??


All of them smile

Performance level?

That's the trouble, is in keeping all of them at performance level. The more gung ho I go at new stuff, the more the older stuff needs shaping again.

Could probably entertain the troops for about one hour without repeating. If I brought a list of everything I once knew, perhaps 2 hours, but likely to get more rotten apples heaved in my direction ... blush


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#1986604 - 11/14/12 11:34 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: Greener]
Farmerjones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 194
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Greener
Quote:
How many pieces do you know by heart??


All of them smile

Performance level?



i can relate. It's either all or nothing. I'm going for the nothing. Give me the key or i'll find it. I'll make something out of it. smile Sometimes we're on a stage, so i guess that counts as "performance."
If i find a stray piano, i may play a three or four chord progression to listen to it's tone. I may play Hotel California. (i love that progression) I like Your Song too. It sounds nice even without the words.

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#1986608 - 11/14/12 11:40 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
Valencia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/11
Posts: 244
wow this thread is very inspiring! slpianoproject, it's great you can play the Mendelssohn Op. 30 No. 1! That is the one I am learning for the ABF Songs without Words recital sometime in the new year. It is beautiful and I hope I can memorize it. Have you tried any of the other songs without words?

As for the pieces I have memorized, they also happen to be the only pieces I can play through----Rachmaninoff's Prelude 32/12, and Chopin's Ocean and Winter Wind Etudes, although the latter two are *far* from 'performance' ready. However I am determined to hang on to the memorization of these pieces. Winter Wind has been on the backburner lately, but I still play through it every now and again, and work on small parts of the piece occassionally, (the trouble spots) even if I am not playing through the entire piece in a practice session. I don't freak out if there are parts that slip from my memory, I just go back and look at the score. I figure it's all part of learning the piece really well.

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#1986609 - 11/14/12 11:43 AM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3457
Quote:
You'ld give me the sheet music and i wouldnt be able to play em as i forgot the fingering and there is no way i can sightread pieces that hard (to me). Is this normal?


Same problem here. I can't play recital pieces from half a year ago even if I have the paper.

But if I go through slow it picks up quickly (about a week I guess).

I have 2 pieces now in memory, 1 on performance level almost in memory, and working on 1 and a little.

I can play a few from score because I play them occasionally.

I think you need to keep working on them if you want to keep them in memory and that takes valuable time...
_________________________

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#1986642 - 11/14/12 01:07 PM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
Playagain Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 239
HI, Slpianoproject,

I'm like you, but if I have the sheet music in front of me, I can play 5 or 6 pieces well enough for friends or family. My problem is memorizing and keeping it memorized. I think it takes a lot of time to memorize a piece and keep it in your memory. I was complaining to my teacher about the same thing recently--I don't have pieces memorized to play somewhere for someone.

I've played some of the same pieces as you, so we might be at about the same level. I've been trying to work on technique, though, and a good way to learn technique is to work through a number of pieces. So, I think that's why my teacher kept pushing me to learn more pieces.

You listed 10 pieces in about 1 1/2 years, and you said that you sometimes skip days at the piano. That's a lot of pieces if you don't have practice time every day. At least for me to learn 10 pieces like you listed, I have to put in 1-2 hours a day everyday at the piano. When I don't have as much time, I let my teacher know, and I don't make as much progress learning newer pieces.

I'd like to take more time to work on my older pieces because when I do work on them again, they are easier, and I think I'd have an easier time memorizing them at this point since they're a bit easier for me to play.

Good luck, and keep up the work. Don't get discouraged. You are probably learning a lot of technique. Maybe you could take a break from new pieces sometime and really work on one or two of your pieces to try to keep them in your memory.

Kathy
_________________________
""

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#1986647 - 11/14/12 01:26 PM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: Derulux]
Playagain Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 239
Hi, Derulux,
This is a very helpful post!

You mention that you should play a piece until you can't play it wrong, and I see that this would help immensely. I am still working on Pathetique 2nd movement like that, and your previous advice to me is helping a lot! Thanks!!!

Like you said, many of us learn pieces too quickly before going onto the next piece. I always feel like I have to work on a number of pieces to please my teacher, but I do think that is helping my technique a lot, though. I just keep wishing for more time to keep polishing my older pieces.

I think my teacher assigns pieces that are quite hard for me, too, because it pushes me to learn a lot, but then I can't really play it well for someone, which gets frustrating. But, when I go back to it, I know I've improved a lot because it's easier.

When I request to work on a piece, my teacher has sometimes said that it's too easy, and I told her that if it's a bit too easy, then I can really work on phrasing, dynamics, and playing it musically! I don't want to always struggle so much that I can't play it well. It's such a fine balance to choose the right pieces.

When you go back to a piece to play it in your mind, isn't it easier to do that at the piano? I could never do it in my mind, but at the piano, I can find my way though a piece somewhat when I haven't played it in awhile.

Thanks, again, for all your helpful advice, here and at the Members Recording at Pianists Corner.
Kathy
_________________________
""

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#1986651 - 11/14/12 01:31 PM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: kayvee]
Playagain Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 239
Kayvee,
Hope this isn't too off-topic, but you mentioned that there are much better methods than John Thompson, which is what I learned from when I was a kid.

Could you mention which better method you like? I was thinking of using Alfred's piano course when I teach my young grandkids to play. I'm buying them a digital piano for Christmas.

Thank you!
Kathy
_________________________
""

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#1986681 - 11/14/12 03:13 PM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: Derulux]
slpianoproject Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/08/12
Posts: 22
Loc: Qc, Canada
Originally Posted By: Derulux


The biggest mistake I've found beginners make is that they practice something until they play it right. What one should do is practice something until you can't play it wrong. This means the notes are so comfortable and well-ingrained in your hands that even after a time away from the piece, it's still there. If you take a couple weeks off and can no longer play the piece at all, it's probably above your current level. If you take several months or a year away from a piece and can play it flawlessly when you return to it, it's probably beneath your current level.


Thats exactly the advice i was looking for! I have to admit there is very few pieces (if at all) that i could play without having a chance of going wrong for a couple notes here and there. I record my performances when i get a piece done and usually i have to get through 4-5 times (sometimes more) before im satisfied enough with the performance to upload it. You make me realize i might have to work more on a piece once i consider it done...

I'ld like to know how you do it personally (till you cant go wrong). Is it through repetition over and over again? Going back to a slower tempo? Varying the rhythm on hard passages till its 100% perfect?

As for below or above my level, i feel like i'm in the middle of alot of repertoire at the moment technically. Some pieces that at first sight looks easy to me end up being harder than it seems and sometimes i surprise myself learning a though passage way easier than i thought. I still have alot to learn and learning pieces slightly above my level helps me get better. Its disapointing to know it might be the reason i have trouble keeping them memorized after i finally pull it off!


Originally Posted By: Playagain
HI, Slpianoproject,

I've played some of the same pieces as you, so we might be at about the same level. I've been trying to work on technique, though, and a good way to learn technique is to work through a number of pieces. So, I think that's why my teacher kept pushing me to learn more pieces.

You listed 10 pieces in about 1 1/2 years, and you said that you sometimes skip days at the piano. That's a lot of pieces if you don't have practice time every day. At least for me to learn 10 pieces like you listed, I have to put in 1-2 hours a day everyday at the piano. When I don't have as much time, I let my teacher know, and I don't make as much progress learning newer pieces.



Its the way i improve my technique too. My teacher tried to make me practice technical exercises and i find it so boring. I've done some but most of the time i take on piano is learning new pieces. As for the 10 pieces in 1 year and a half well... some of them are on the easy side you have to admit compared to others... thats why i've been able to pull it off. Most of the pieces i learn is pieces i like. Like you said its hard to find a good balance between not too hard, too easy and that i like to listen to.

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#1986687 - 11/14/12 03:22 PM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: Valencia]
slpianoproject Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/08/12
Posts: 22
Loc: Qc, Canada
Originally Posted By: Valencia
wow this thread is very inspiring! slpianoproject, it's great you can play the Mendelssohn Op. 30 No. 1! That is the one I am learning for the ABF Songs without Words recital sometime in the new year. It is beautiful and I hope I can memorize it. Have you tried any of the other songs without words?


You can see my recording on the October piano bar thread on here. Its a very nice piece to learn and im pretty sure you can pull it off! As for other songs without words i've semi-learned Op 19 no.1 (working on other stuff atm) and i swear one day i'll do Op.30 no. 6 (just never took the time to do it). Those pieces are the ones i particularly like. smile

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#1986692 - 11/14/12 03:31 PM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: Playagain]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 528
Loc: Finland
People are different when it comes to memorization. Probably for some people the problem is that the pieces are too hard. But it is not necessarily so. I forget things very fast if I don't need them/think about them regularly. And this applies to everything in life, not just piano pieces. I forget events and names also, even people that I have known for years. My brain seems to erase things quite well when they are not needed on a regular basis or at least stack them behind so many walls that I cannot access them. It's either the file system or the hard drive itself that is faulty smile

I play both easy and difficult pieces and I forget them all just as quickly. I do remember melodies and segments of music quite easily if I get a hint, but I can't remember how things start. It is frustrating, but that's the way my mind works.

I can get the pieces back and it is always great to do that, because in the meantime my tecnique has become better and I find them much more rewarding to play. Every time I take on an older piece it takes a little less time to memorize it again. Returning the pieces to memory takes some time though and right now I don't have that time. My teacher pushes me forward and that's fine. The number one thing now is to get the playing into order. I can build repertoire when I retire smile

To the original question:
I can only play cold from memory the pieces that I am working at the moment(1-3)and a couple of nice ones that I keep practicing regularly. But even a week without playing a piece is long enough that I start getting blackouts while playing.

Reading is not a solution, despite all my efforts I have given up trying to sight play anything complicated. My problems are deeper than just learning to understand the music that is written and playing it because I can actually do that when the conditions are exactly right. Unfortunately they mostly are not. So I decided to just see if I could gradually build some routine in reading when learning new pieces (and get new glasses asap).

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#1986700 - 11/14/12 04:56 PM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: slpianoproject
I'm less asking for advices than wanting to know how many pieces YOU are able to play when someone asks you? 2..5..15? If someones knows 10-15 pieces it takes alot of time to review doesnt it?

No, it doesn't really take much time. Each Saturday and Sunday I play two or three times through four or five pieces from my repertoire. I cycle through my list every few months that way. Not all the pieces are 'performance' ready but kept in memory.

I work on new material Monday to Friday but I work up one repertoire piece (or a section of it) over that week. When it's done, that piece will be good for several months. I've not been back at the piano long enough to complete my first cycle yet (I returned last Christmas after 15 years away).

It takes longer to learn to play a piece well than it does to memorise it and the two objectives complement each other well so there's no downside to memorising everything I play or practise.

I have over sixty pieces that I keep on my list from bagatelles to full sonatas plus some unlisted pieces (Anna Magdalena, Clementi sonatinas etc) all of which are memorised.

Many of my pieces are in permanent memory and I can practise most of them away from the piano. When I returned to the piano last Christmas I was still able to play around a dozen pieces straight off and built up to two dozen pieces at the end of the first two weeks. Another two dozen or so were restored within a couple of months without having to go back to the score.

Originally Posted By: slpianoproject
I'ld like to know how you do it personally (till you cant go wrong).

Once you've got a wrong note in there it's very difficult to get it right again. The best approach is to get it right from the very start. I work on only as much as I can memorise in a few minutes and practise slowly enough that I don't get wrong notes. At thinking speed the sound is very slow to a listener but the brain is fully engaged and active. Once it's mechanically sound I can let the tempo come up to me rather try to play faster; that way I stay in control. Once I'm at half tempo I control it with a metronome/drum machine.

It's a difficult approach because it needs discipline and patience, but half speed is still much faster than thinking speed and once you're over that it really is only a matter of time.

_________________________
Richard

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#1986706 - 11/14/12 05:14 PM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: zrtf90]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 528
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Once you've got a wrong note in there it's very difficult to get it right again. The best approach is to get it right from the very start.


I used to worry about "learning my mistakes" a lot, but not anymore. I think here is actually the only benefit I can think of from having a short lived memory: I forget the mistakes as well. Sometimes I have learned and memorized the piece well for my lesson but misread a note that sounds ok. When my teacher points it out I can easily change it. I also have never had much trouble changing fingering after already learning the piece if I figure out a better one. The old one disappears from my mind as soon as I get the new one memorized.

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#1986758 - 11/14/12 07:23 PM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
None. Greensleeves when I was a kid. I can play some stuff by ear but not memorize. (Another of the many many reasons I could never be a concert pianist)
_________________________
Slow down and do it right.

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#1986780 - 11/14/12 08:14 PM Re: How many pieces do you know by heart?? [Re: slpianoproject]
kayvee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 135
Loc: Santa Barbara
@Playagain: I would recommend Piano Adventures, using all the books for each level wherever possible all the way through until the end of the series (if you aren't necessarily a piano teacher, which it seems like you aren't). That way, you have a tested and logical progression. Also, the more material the students see, the better, which is why I suggest all the books. However, as always, a qualified piano teacher is the best way to go from the very beginning.

--

Not sure if this is the 'best' method, but one thing I really like right now is the Keys to Stylistic Mastery/Artistic Performance OR First Impression books (or both!)

Keys to Artistic Performance, Book 1, Book 2, & Book 3
Keys to Stylistic Mastery, Book 1, Book 2 & Book 3
(To be used together...maybe one right after the other; Keys to Stylistic Mastery 1, Keys to Artistic Performance 1, Keys to Stylistic Mastery 2, etc etc etc)

http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/series/First-Impressions/946
Goes A -> B -> C -> 1-6 (with accompanying theory books for A, B, C, and 1-3)

What I like about both of these series is that they come with helpful hints and study suggestions which are invaluable to someone studying without a teacher. Others are Succeeding with the Masters and...I can't actually remember them all off the top of my head. But if you're done with method books, this is probably the best path. And I think anyone who's done one level, maybe better off with two, is ready for these series.

As for the best method book, that depends on your goals.
_________________________
A linguistics major who loves piano and knows too much theory/history without knowing how to play it as well as he wants to be able to.

Let's hope that changes. Taught piano for almost two years and currently working on:
"Going back to the basics..."

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