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#2008568 - 01/03/13 02:25 PM Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice
NoodleDance18 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/16/12
Posts: 8
Hey all!

So during the free time given to me from vacation I've been really practicing hard. What I'm concerned with however is not the effort that I've been putting in (6-7 hours a day) but more along the lines of spending my time wisely. This is how my practicing agenda has been for the past few weeks:

-Hanon exercises (all arpeggios, scales, and exercises 1-30 adding a new exercise each weekend)
-playing through repertoire
-Sight-reading
-Improvisation/composing

Repertoire:
Prelude no. 2 c minor bach
Seal Lullaby Eric Whitacre
Fur Elise
Revolutionary etude Chopin
Liebestraume no. 3 Liszt
Tempest Beethoven
prelude no. 9 scriabin

So I guess what I'm asking is, what does your practicing agenda look like? Also,in terms of my repertoire I have concerns. I wish to someday play the 6 grande etudes, a rather obscene goal for a early intermediate player such as myself. Are there any technical pieces that you could recommend to form a steady path towards these difficult pieces?

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#2008600 - 01/03/13 03:08 PM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: NoodleDance18]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3836
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Noodle,

I'm not trying to be facetious, but I don't really see any practicing going on here. If you want to talk about a practicing agenda, let's start by addressing what you do when working on repertoire. Practicing repertoire is very different (and usually a lot harder) from the second point on your list, "playing through repertoire".


-J
_________________________
Schubert Immersion: Bb Impromptu; C# minor and Ab Moments Musicaux; accompanying four songs (Suleika II, Rastlose Liebe, Du Liebst Mich Nicht, Im Fruhling); listening intensely to Die Schöne Müllerin and Winterreise

Chopin: first Ballade; Mozart: D minor concerto;

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#2008605 - 01/03/13 03:23 PM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: NoodleDance18]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3624
>So I guess what I'm asking is, what does your practicing agenda look like?

usually
1. working on the new hard piece (75% of time)
2. working on the new easy piece (25% of time)

sometimes, when I have a live recital coming up or something where I need to play something live, I spend say 10 to 40% of the time on keeping the piece in good shape. I try to avoid loosing so much time by making a recording when I have nailed it and then dropping the piece.
_________________________

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#2008606 - 01/03/13 03:24 PM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: NoodleDance18]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18291
Loc: Victoria, BC
I was about to make a similar comment to that made by beet31425. How are you spending your time? Six to seven hours tells us nothing about how you are dividing your various tasks. You could be spending 20 minutes on technique, 20 minutes on repertoire, 20 minutes on sight-reading and five to six hours on composing and improvising. More importantly, it doesn't tell us what you are doing when you are working on those tasks.

If your repertoire is polished to advanced professional standards, "playing through it" may help keep the pieces in your active repertoire, but in that instance, why are you not working on new repertoire? If your current repertoire needs work - i.e. practice - why are you just "playing through" it instead of giving it the practice it needs?

If your current level is more or less represented by the Bach Prelude and Beethoven's "Fur Elise," why are you also "playing through" Chopin's Op 10, No 12 and Beethoven's Op 31, No 2. Conversely, if your level is represented by the Beethoven "Tempest" and the Chopin "Revolutionary" etude, why are you "playing through" "Fur Elise" and the Bach C minor Prelude. There seems to be such a wide range in your repertoire that I would consider it a disparity, without further clarification.

I don't see much evidence of "practicing hard" here; perhaps you can give us some more concrete, meaningful examples of how you use your time, about what "practicing hard" means.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#2009023 - 01/04/13 03:46 PM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: NoodleDance18]
NoodleDance18 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/16/12
Posts: 8
I spend about 2 1/2 hours on technique, 2 1/2 on practicing repertoire (though at the moment it's at 3 1/2 since I don't have anything new to practice). Sight-reading goes for about ten minutes or so. Composing and improvising only happens if I have spare time. As for why I'm practicing all of these pieces of different levels, I just find it useful to have as many pieces in my repertoire as possible. In addition I'm not practicing new repertoire because I don't know where to go from here, that's why I'm asking for advice on new repertoire in case you haven't read the title. I probably should've asked my piano teacher instead of coming here. I didn't expect the comments to be so discouraging.

When I mean "playing through" I mean practicing the piece then playing through it in one sitting. Sorry about the lack of specifics on my part.


Edited by NoodleDance18 (01/04/13 03:47 PM)

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#2009028 - 01/04/13 03:59 PM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: NoodleDance18]
Vid Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 888
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
Start with this: http://www.pianofundamentals.com/

It sounds like you are practicing in the "intuitive" way which is some technique first then play through your repertoire at near performance speed (although you don't say you do this, I'm just guessing). You can develop this way but it is by no means efficient and you will "learn" mistakes that will have to be undone if you want to perform your pieces at any level of proficiency and accuracy.

2.5 hours on technique sounds like way too much IMO. With that many hours at your disposal perhaps 1 hour of technical work should suffice. Do you take breaks? Do you practice some in the morning and then more in the evening?

I think it was Rubinstein who said that only 3 hours of practicing a day would be more than enough. I know for myself and probably others there is a rapid decline in ROI (return on investment) when pushing it beyond a certain amount of time. It should be quality over quantity. Take a look at the book and get an idea of what more efficient means of practicing is like.

Taking the intuitive approach will only get you so far even when you invest so many extra hours into it.
_________________________
Kawai VPC1, Pianoteq, Galaxy Vintage D

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#2009039 - 01/04/13 04:22 PM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: NoodleDance18]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5534
Assuming that you're able to play all the pieces you've listed reasonably well, let me suggest a few more pieces that are immediately appealing, musically and technically challenging in different ways from the others (and therefore further your technical armoury) and enjoyable to play:

Scarlatti: Sonata in D minor Kk141
Chopin: Etude in A flat, Op.25/1
Mendelssohn: Rondo capriccioso, Op.14
Schumann/Liszt: Widmung
Rachmaninoff: Prelude in G minor, Op.23/5
Bartok: Allegro barbaro
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2009052 - 01/04/13 04:55 PM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: NoodleDance18]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
I don't think you should necessarily play through each piece every sitting, even if its only once at the end. I think some things take a bit of distance to really become solidified.
Also I think 2.5 hours on technique is a bit of overkill. Try and find some way of extracting technical exercises from the pieces that you are doing, and count that towards your technical practice.

Pieces-wise, I would try and tackle a few more contrapuntal things (Possibly some bach fugues or maybe even the fugue from Ravel's tombeau de couperin).


Edited by debrucey (01/04/13 04:58 PM)

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#2009113 - 01/04/13 07:29 PM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: NoodleDance18]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6084
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
I second the fugue from Le Tombeau. It's beautifully and a wonderfully written piece!

If you really want to work on technical exercises for 2 and a half hours, you aren't injuring yourself, and you are actually finding improvement, heck, knock yourself out. It seems that concert pianists these days are expected to have superhuman technique anyway.

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#2009116 - 01/04/13 07:31 PM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: NoodleDance18]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
For all we know all that technical work could just be reinforcing bad technique. Practising technical exercises doesn't necessarily improve your technique, it just makes you able to play technical exercises. It would help if we could see some of your 2.5 hours of technical practice.

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#2009123 - 01/04/13 07:43 PM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: NoodleDance18]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18291
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: NoodleDance18
[...]I probably should've asked my piano teacher instead of coming here. I didn't expect the comments to be so discouraging.

When I mean "playing through" I mean practicing the piece then playing through it in one sitting. Sorry about the lack of specifics on my part.


Asking one's piano teacher about repertoire choices is always much better than asking unknown individuals on a forum; your teacher knows how you practice, how you play; s/he knows what you need and what also might encourage and inspire you towards substantial improvement.

What do you find discouraging about the comments so far? It seems to me that you gave some very broad, general comments that required clarification before specific responses could be offered.

I can't imagine that spending six to seven hours a day at the piano is "spending time wisely." For most, except, perhaps, the most driven of conservatory students, diminishing returns begin to set in after about three hours practice, after which time one could be undoing good habits and ingraining bad ones brought on by fatigue, both physical and mental.
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#2009174 - 01/04/13 10:26 PM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: BruceD]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12215
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: NoodleDance18
[...]I probably should've asked my piano teacher instead of coming here. I didn't expect the comments to be so discouraging.

When I mean "playing through" I mean practicing the piece then playing through it in one sitting. Sorry about the lack of specifics on my part.


Asking one's piano teacher about repertoire choices is always much better than asking unknown individuals on a forum; your teacher knows how you practice, how you play; s/he knows what you need and what also might encourage and inspire you towards substantial improvement.

What do you find discouraging about the comments so far? It seems to me that you gave some very broad, general comments that required clarification before specific responses could be offered.

I can't imagine that spending six to seven hours a day at the piano is "spending time wisely." For most, except, perhaps, the most driven of conservatory students, diminishing returns begin to set in after about three hours practice, after which time one could be undoing good habits and ingraining bad ones brought on by fatigue, both physical and mental.


I agree BruceD, and I'd like to add that what are you doing in 6 hours that really can't be done in less? Efficiency at the piano is extremely important, not overall time. I know the OP posted 2 1/2 hrs of technical exercises. I don't really know why this would be a good thing. Technique is a means to an end (i.e. the repertoire) and not an end in itself. Therefore, your technical exercises should be a part of your repertoire practice, IMO.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2009205 - 01/04/13 11:41 PM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: NoodleDance18]
NoodleDance18 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/16/12
Posts: 8
Thank you all for the advice! I'll be sure to condense my technical exercises so I can work smarter instead of harder, and I really enjoyed the recommended repertoire. I'll also experiment with shorter practice times and its effects.

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#2009211 - 01/04/13 11:53 PM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: NoodleDance18]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2151
Loc: Canada
Becoming better at the piano also involves lots of listening to music, reading through scores, and thinking a lot about what you want to sound like, and how you can possibly make that happen. Don't forget that while technical exercises are useful, developing as a musician is something which will make everything you play better as well.
_________________________
Working on:
Chopin - Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante
Rachmaninoff - Preludes op. 23 nos. 3,4,6, op. 32 no.12
Franck - Violin Sonata

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#2009216 - 01/05/13 12:03 AM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: Kuanpiano]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8934
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Don't forget that while technical exercises are useful, developing as a musician is something which will make everything you play better as well.

Indeed. But practicing the Dohnanyi trill exercises did a lot more than simply enable me to play Dohnanyi's exercises. It spilled over into the repertoire.

Absolutely, no contest.
_________________________
Jason

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#2009282 - 01/05/13 04:36 AM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: NoodleDance18]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
That's why I included the word 'necessarily'.

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#2009294 - 01/05/13 06:14 AM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: NoodleDance18]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8026
Originally Posted By: NoodleDance18
I probably should've asked my piano teacher instead of coming here. I didn't expect the comments to be so discouraging.



If you actually have a decent piano teacher, I don't see any reason why you'd ask such questions of total strangers on a forum like this in the first place. It's the role of your teacher to do guide you in that kind of thing. If you don't have a good teacher, well, that's a whole different issue.

Beyond that, there are a many helpful people here, but it is unreasonable to think they can offer much useful advice based on the fragmentary data you provided - it's just not enough information to go on. Perhaps the most useful thing you could do, if you really want advice, is to post recordings of yourself in the Members Recording area, so that people can get a better idea of your current ability.

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#2009300 - 01/05/13 06:33 AM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: NoodleDance18]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
I would also say that you shouldn't take it as discouraging when people don't tell you exactly what you wanted to hear. You have a good work ethic, but you should learn to take the advice of people with more experience than you as motivation, not discouragement, if you one day wish to tackle the 6 Grandes Etudes.

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#2009310 - 01/05/13 07:05 AM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: NoodleDance18]
arpan70 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/19/11
Posts: 102
Loc: Mumbai, India
There's nothing wrong with working on diverse repertoire. Even I am working on all sorts of pieces, as you can see from my signature. but the point that everyone is bringing up is that we don't actually know how well you actually play. From experience I've learned that I what separated a good teacher from a bad teacher is that they can listen every well and tell you what you are doing. And trust me that a bad teacher telling you that you're playing fine when in actuality you're playing badly is the worst thing that can happen to you. You won't actually improve.

I'm not saying that your teacher is good or bad, beccause we don't know who she is. but can you post a recording of one of the pieces that you have listed so that we have a better idea of how well you play. Trust me, some of the members in the forum listen very well. In fact, BruceD even took a score and wrote a 300 word commentary on my playing, which was quite didactic in nature. I didn't agree with all of his ideas on the piece, but he did mention some technical issues that I was not aware of. I could then work on these problems and improve my playing.

And once we know how you play, we'll be able to guide you better as to what pieces to play. And isn't that what you wanted? Repertoire advice?
_________________________
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.7, Op.10 No.3
Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor
Scriabin: Prelude, Op.11 No.11

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#2009323 - 01/05/13 08:01 AM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: argerichfan]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12215
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Don't forget that while technical exercises are useful, developing as a musician is something which will make everything you play better as well.

Indeed. But practicing the Dohnanyi trill exercises did a lot more than simply enable me to play Dohnanyi's exercises. It spilled over into the repertoire.

Absolutely, no contest.


Of course! But did you have trills in your repertoire at the time to see that, or at least to realize you needed the work on your trills? That's the important thing - that the technical exercises are used for the purpose of a specific need in the repertoire, not for getting good at them. There are some who just love technical exercises, and I'm not one of them, so perhaps that is why I require a reason to do them. smile
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2009554 - 01/05/13 04:53 PM Re: Practicing Agenda and New Repertoire Advice [Re: arpan70]
NoodleDance18 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/16/12
Posts: 8
Originally Posted By: arpan70
...the point that everyone is bringing up is that we don't actually know how well you actually play. From experience I've learned that I what separated a good teacher from a bad teacher is that they can listen every well and tell you what you are doing. And trust me that a bad teacher telling you that you're playing fine when in actuality you're playing badly is the worst thing that can happen to you. You won't actually improve.

I'm not saying that your teacher is good or bad, beccause we don't know who she is. but can you post a recording of one of the pieces that you have listed so that we have a better idea of how well you play. Trust me, some of the members in the forum listen very well. In fact, BruceD even took a score and wrote a 300 word commentary on my playing, which was quite didactic in nature. I didn't agree with all of his ideas on the piece, but he did mention some technical issues that I was not aware of. I could then work on these problems and improve my playing.

And once we know how you play, we'll be able to guide you better as to what pieces to play. And isn't that what you wanted? Repertoire advice?


I'll try to get a recording of my playing when possible. Thank you. You all have already been quite helpful.

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