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#2039976 - 02/27/13 04:40 AM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Marco M]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 453
Loc: Europe
I brought up the blog of jazzwee, because I find that he adds some few extra words to known statements. But with this few extra words the statements gain much significance, and therefore the extra words are worth to be spread. By the way, I also read the comments which Bernhard shared. And I like them because of the same reason, they often make to a beginner abstract sounding recommendations become filled with value of benefit.

(EDIT: by the way, does somebody knows what happened to 'bernhard'? He didn´t post for years anymore, over at the pianostreet forums, after having been a so active member there!)

When speaking about practicing a passage 5 times perfectly, I never understood it the way that I would be a fool if I could not reach perfection. It to me clearly is an -understandable- recommendation how to avoid practicing mistakes, and to have a measure at hand based on which I can evaluate myself if I am to speedy in the piece, and also in the journey, while at the same time ensuring that I am not wasting valuable time. Of course there is also my teacher around to guide me, but just not all the time...


Edited by Marco M (02/27/13 08:08 AM)
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#2040058 - 02/27/13 09:38 AM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Derulux]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7099
Loc: So. California
Originally Posted By: Derulux

I'm glad you didn't take offense by my post. I was trying to talk about two things at once: 1) the BS marketing crap I hate, 2) the great and encouraging advice you've provided to others. It was really tough to lump them together into one post, especially in the midst of many distractions.

Edit: PS- I like jazz. I was once a member of three different jazz groups. (Small stuff, barely got paid enough to put gas in the car, but it was fun.) smile


Not to worry Derelux. I'm not that sensitive smile

Now the good news about my practice strategy is that it propelled me to having a successful little jazz quintet and though I'm the leader, I'm the least skilled of the bunch. All the other band members are pros.

But there's something to be said about someone starting here as an adult beginner and now packing up a crowd at a venue. It's like a fairy tale in Piano land, especially at my age!
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#2040081 - 02/27/13 10:33 AM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: jazzwee]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5344
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: jazzwee
Originally Posted By: Derulux

I'm glad you didn't take offense by my post. I was trying to talk about two things at once: 1) the BS marketing crap I hate, 2) the great and encouraging advice you've provided to others. It was really tough to lump them together into one post, especially in the midst of many distractions.

Edit: PS- I like jazz. I was once a member of three different jazz groups. (Small stuff, barely got paid enough to put gas in the car, but it was fun.) smile


Not to worry Derelux. I'm not that sensitive smile

Now the good news about my practice strategy is that it propelled me to having a successful little jazz quintet and though I'm the leader, I'm the least skilled of the bunch. All the other band members are pros.

But there's something to be said about someone starting here as an adult beginner and now packing up a crowd at a venue. It's like a fairy tale in Piano land, especially at my age!

Nice! The last paying jazz gig for me was around 12 years ago. Best part about that group was, we each played at least one other instrument.. so we used to do a "walking solo" routine, where we'd rotate instruments and solo on each of them. It definitely was a lot of fun, and two of those guys have gone on to do some pretty cool things. I just took a different career path.
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#2040233 - 02/27/13 03:09 PM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Marco M]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3601
Quote:
Because here's the issue: YOU CANNOT STOP UNTIL YOU REACH YOUR GOAL. If you do stop, you have just stored the ERROR in your subconscious.


Nice but no exceptions I have to stop at 9pm sharp. So what's your advice if you're at the 20th attempt at that time? Of course already dropped tempo many times in the process...


Edited by wouter79 (02/27/13 03:10 PM)
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#2040236 - 02/27/13 03:13 PM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Marco M]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7099
Loc: So. California
No need to overcomplicate this. Isolate one problem area. Cut it into a small chunk. Maybe it's down to 2 notes (extreme example). I'm sure you can do that perfectly now. Then you can go to sleep because you've achieved something.

EDIT -Hopefully you're thinking about this before 8:59 pm smile


Edited by jazzwee (02/27/13 03:14 PM)
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#2040335 - 02/27/13 06:25 PM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: wouter79]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3171
Originally Posted By: wouter79
Quote:
Because here's the issue: YOU CANNOT STOP UNTIL YOU REACH YOUR GOAL. If you do stop, you have just stored the ERROR in your subconscious.


Nice but no exceptions I have to stop at 9pm sharp. So what's your advice if you're at the 20th attempt at that time? Of course already dropped tempo many times in the process...


My advice is to not even get near the 20th attempt. That number comes from somebody else, and I refuted it earlier in this thread.

My advice is to slim the phrase down (and tempo down) to whatever minimum it is that you can practice without error, even, as Jazzwee noted, if that is just two notes. And then do that 5 times. No more...walk away and sleep on it.

If you have dropped the tempo down many times, yet still have problems with it, the piece or section might be above your present ability, and/or it might be too long a phrase to practice in a chunk.

Its like chewing and swallowing food...if you choke on it, its too big a mouthful, or not chewed well enough.

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#2040338 - 02/27/13 06:32 PM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Marco M]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3171
There must be something in the water that makes this concept hard to grasp. laugh

I have had several adult students say they "finally understood" what I mean by this style of practice.

This after a year or two or, in one case, three years of me preaching this, and me giving them handouts on it, and demonstrating it over and over, etc.

And there are other students who never get it. I don't understand why...its a mystery.

The only explanation I have is that it is counter-intuitive to how we accomplish many tasks. Need to stack 50 bricks? You don't stack one and go to sleep and the remaining bricks stack up by themselves! Instead, the more you stack and the faster you stack, the sooner the job gets done, and it stays done.

Apply that to piano practice, and you get over-practicing at too fast a tempo that is likely filled with errors.

This style of piano learning we are discussing here is a different concept completely from completing everyday tasks.



Edited by rocket88 (02/28/13 12:29 AM)
Edit Reason: clarity
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#2040381 - 02/27/13 08:50 PM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: rocket88]
malkin Online   content
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Overpracticing with errors is like trying to stack bricks by throwing them from ten feet away. You'll end up with a pile and tired arms, but never a stack of bricks.
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#2040392 - 02/27/13 09:18 PM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Marco M]
ShiroKuro Offline
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Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3514
Loc: not in Japan anymore
Several years ago, I found PianoStreet and Bernhard's ideas amd incorporated them into my practice routine (and wrote several posts here as well, lost in the search engine now). One of the things I did was to go out and buy a set of dice (because they are square and won't roll off the piano). I have a little box on my piano with 10 dice. When I focus in on a specific phrase or am trying to get a new fingering into my brain/fingers (or, trying to change already established fingering) I use the dice, that way I don't have to count how many repetitions I've done. I play the section once, if it's correct, I move a die out of the box. Repeat either until I run out of dice (IOW 10x) or maybe 5-7 dice/times (depending on whether it feels really easy or not). If I make mistakes I either put all the dice back and start over, or I'll shorten the section.

This is not the only way I ever practice, but it's one trick that has made it possible for me to conquer pieces that otherwise would seem overwhelmingly hard. "Just these two measures, 7 times" makes even something very challenging seem do-able.
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#2040405 - 02/27/13 09:39 PM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: malkin]
rocket88 Offline
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Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3171
Originally Posted By: malkin
Overpracticing with errors is like trying to stack bricks by throwing them from ten feet away. You'll end up with a pile and tired arms, but never a stack of bricks.



laugh
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#2040514 - 02/28/13 02:25 AM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: rocket88]
casinitaly Offline


Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 5247
Loc: Italy
Originally Posted By: rocket88
There must be something in the water that makes this concept hard to grasp. laugh

I have had several adult students say they "finally understood" what I mean by this style of practice.

This after a year or two or, in one case, three years of me preaching this, and me giving them handouts on it, and demonstrating it over and over, etc.

And there are other students who never get it. I don't understand why...its a mystery.

The only explanation I have is that it is counter-intuitive to how we accomplish many tasks. Need to stack 50 bricks? You don't stack one and go to sleep and the remaining bricks stack up by themselves! Instead, the more you stack and the faster you stack, the sooner the job gets done, and it stays done.

Apply that to piano practice, and you get over-practicing at too fast a tempo that is likely filled with errors.

This style of piano learning we are discussing here is a different concept completely from completing everyday tasks.



I'd be one of those students. smile I am not certain that it is the concept of counter intuitiveness that stops us from following the excellent advice of our teachers.
I think it is that we're just so darned convinced that it couldn't possibly be necessary to go THAT slowly, to repeat such small chunks - we are unbelievers! We are certain that we should be able to play it at a somewhat reasonable tempo because though we're beginners and learners, we're adults, we are capable of doing so many difficult and challenging things, we should be able to do this too.
What we forget (and I don't know if this came up earlier in this thread or another one) is that for the other activities we do we have years and years of experience built up - the bricks and building blocks are in place.
For piano, even if we've played other instruments, it is a new ball game.

I love the bricks and food analogies - and I just wish that I'd really twigged to what my first teacher was trying to tell me - but impatience to make progress muddied the waters. I never realized until about 3 months ago that going slower at the beginning actually translates into learning faster (and more importantly, better!) overall.

My new teacher is much more demanding than the first. I think he has higher expectations for all his students, not just the kids, and he made it clear from the start that he wanted accuracy above tempo until my fingers really knew what they were doing. I am now really feeling the difference.

Another advantage I'm seeing to my efforts with the FTT, is a shift in focus ability. Very intense, for short bursts. I'm hoping that this will pay off and help me with being more focused for longer periods.
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Everything's too hard until you make it easy. Follow your teacher's instructions and practice wisely/much, and you'll soon wonder how you ever found it hard ;)-BobPickle
Performance anxiety: make it part of your daily routine and deal with it...Cope! zrtf90

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#2040541 - 02/28/13 04:51 AM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Marco M]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 453
Loc: Europe
It sounds reasonable that stoping the practice session after having successfully passed some piece or phrase of it will help our brain to preferably memorize this good example of correct playing and let our brain in the background further optimize necesary channelling for a future recall of the successful process.

If I would stop the practicing session with mistakes in my playing, but am seriously aware about it, wouldn´t the brain as well store this experience for being next time better aware about how to NOT run into the same error again? Although it would be a waste of time to keep the brain busy with memorizing how to avoid errors instead of right away let it optimize things for performing something correctly, this still shouldn´t spoil our playing.

Obviously, the worst practicing routine would be to terminate the session in the believe of having performed correctly although it was flawed.

The first thing I will ask my teacher to elaborate with me, is to develope my competence to properly self-evaluate my own playing, then!

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#2040581 - 02/28/13 07:05 AM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: casinitaly]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5344
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: casinitaly
Originally Posted By: rocket88
There must be something in the water that makes this concept hard to grasp. laugh


I'd be one of those students. smile I am not certain that it is the concept of counter intuitiveness that stops us from following the excellent advice of our teachers.
I think it is that we're just so darned convinced that it couldn't possibly be necessary to go THAT slowly, to repeat such small chunks - we are unbelievers!

I think it's kind of like being told to "relax" while playing. The student has no basis for comparison, because they have always played with tension. So, to use a number scale, they may go from 100% tension to 98% tension, and think they have finally "relaxed" because they feel that sense of relaxation and an improvement in their playing. They have no idea how far they really have to go, because they've never felt what 0% feels like.
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#2040594 - 02/28/13 07:42 AM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Derulux]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2412
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Derulux
I think it's kind of like being told to "relax" while playing. The student has no basis for comparison, because they have always played with tension. So, to use a number scale, they may go from 100% tension to 98% tension, and think they have finally "relaxed" because they feel that sense of relaxation and an improvement in their playing. They have no idea how far they really have to go, because they've never felt what 0% feels like.


Definitely. I would state outright to my teacher, but I don't feel tense.

If I now try to play as I used to, I can't. I feel the tension everywhere, it bugs me, I need to get rid of it. But until you know that it's there it's invisible.

I'm probably at 97% now wink
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#2040597 - 02/28/13 07:47 AM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Andy Platt]
casinitaly Offline


Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 5247
Loc: Italy
Originally Posted By: Andy Platt
Originally Posted By: Derulux
I think it's kind of like being told to "relax" while playing. The student has no basis for comparison, because they have always played with tension. So, to use a number scale, they may go from 100% tension to 98% tension, and think they have finally "relaxed" because they feel that sense of relaxation and an improvement in their playing. They have no idea how far they really have to go, because they've never felt what 0% feels like.


Definitely. I would state outright to my teacher, but I don't feel tense.

If I now try to play as I used to, I can't. I feel the tension everywhere, it bugs me, I need to get rid of it. But until you know that it's there it's invisible.

I'm probably at 97% now wink


That's so true. This is yet another thing that is just starting to "click" for me. And again, it isn't stubbornness or not wanting to try --- it is simply incomprehensible until you start to experience the difference.

I thought I'd improved tension reduction last year, only to discover a whole new level in the last few months...only in the last couple of weeks have I realized that the "notch" I'd taken it down to, is really still just a fraction of where I've got to be.
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Everything's too hard until you make it easy. Follow your teacher's instructions and practice wisely/much, and you'll soon wonder how you ever found it hard ;)-BobPickle
Performance anxiety: make it part of your daily routine and deal with it...Cope! zrtf90

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#2040657 - 02/28/13 09:22 AM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Marco M]
malkin Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2669
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Cas--I am one of those students too!

I'm ok with slow, and ok with 3, 5, or 7 repeats (stacking bricks), but then I don't STOP. I back up, and try to play the piece through and it falls apart so I try again and...(throwing bricks at the pile).

It shouldn't be too hard to just stop after the slow practice.
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#2040780 - 02/28/13 01:28 PM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Marco M]
jafop111 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/28/13
Posts: 6
Loc: canada
Awesome blog for me specially that i am beginner of the piano and these types of teaching equipment is essential part of my learning piano.Which scale will you recommend to me that which piano is the best learning for me?
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#2040857 - 02/28/13 03:34 PM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: jazzwee]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3601
Originally Posted By: jazzwee
No need to overcomplicate this. Isolate one problem area. Cut it into a small chunk. Maybe it's down to 2 notes (extreme example). I'm sure you can do that perfectly now. Then you can go to sleep because you've achieved something.

EDIT -Hopefully you're thinking about this before 8:59 pm smile


LOL . this happens more often to me, because I'm usually practicing till the last minute and of course you're never at the perfect 5 times perfect point at that last minute. Sometimes a part is just going downhill at the end of the day...
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#2040874 - 02/28/13 04:00 PM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: casinitaly]
zillybug Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/11
Posts: 133
Loc: USA
I was definitely one of those students too when I returned to the piano 2 years ago. For the last year I have listened to my teacher and practice slowly and in small chunks. At tis point, I can get small sections or even a page several times without a mistake. I usually aim for 7 times. The problem now is when I try to put it together that I can never seem to play consistently through the entire piece without mistakes and there does not seem to be any pattern where the mistakes are. They are not in the same places. I am working on the Chopin waltz in B minor. My teacher asked if I wanted to play at at the end of the year and my response was I don't know; it's about 7 pages with all the repeats. For the last 2 years, I have always chosen a piece that is only 2 pages long. I'm beginning to think the problem is in my head rather than my fingers. This even happens when I am at home alone although it is definitely worse in front of others. Any ideas for being able to play an entire piece consistently would be appreciated.
Thanks, zillybug

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#2040899 - 02/28/13 04:41 PM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: casinitaly]
JimF Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/09
Posts: 1811
Loc: south florida
Quote:
Apply that to piano practice, and you get over-practicing at too fast a tempo that is likely filled with errors.


sick raising my hand sheepishly to admit I'm one of these students too. Not all the time, but too often. I have to constantly remind myself and just STOP.....

I think part of it is my rush to get a piece prepared for whatever the next step is.... for the next lesson, for an upcoming recital, for a contemplated recording session, to play for a friend.. whatever....gotta get those bricks stacked asap...LOL grin Sometimes trying to learn how to play this instrument makes me feel like such a headcase.

oohhhmmmmmmm, slow is good
oohhhhhmmmmm, slow is good
ohmmmmmmmmmmm, slow is good
ohhmmmmmmmmmm, slow is good
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#2046835 - 03/12/13 06:59 AM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Marco M]
Lost Woods Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/13
Posts: 104
Loc: The Netherlands
Tried this and it is much more harder than it seems. Why? Because after let's say the third perfect time somehow I lose my concentration and oriëntation it's like I'm getting lost in the keys and I'll make a small mistake.. Than I need to start over again.. and for example again the fourth time I make a small mistake. I think somewhere in my head it's getting frustrated so it gets worse? This even happens to me on the "easier" pieces.
Also the "fifth" time I'm very aware of the fact it is the last time. This somehow creates a pressure where I don't "go with the flow" but try really hard not to make mistakes? When for example the second and third time are no real problem the fifth time seems much harder.

What does help for me is taking a break for several minutes, let it sink in.. and than try again.

Gotta work on my concentration and dicipline!


Edited by Lost Woods (03/12/13 06:59 AM)

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#2046866 - 03/12/13 08:55 AM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Marco M]
peterws Offline
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Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3787
Loc: Northern England.
I`ve NEVER played anything without mistakes. Not ever. And I aint gonna start now . . . .
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#2046872 - 03/12/13 09:04 AM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Lost Woods]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3171
Originally Posted By: Lost Woods
Tried this and it is much more harder than it seems. Why? Because after let's say the third perfect time somehow I lose my concentration and oriëntation it's like I'm getting lost in the keys and I'll make a small mistake.. Than I need to start over again.. and for example again the fourth time I make a small mistake. I think somewhere in my head it's getting frustrated so it gets worse? This even happens to me on the "easier" pieces.
Also the "fifth" time I'm very aware of the fact it is the last time. This somehow creates a pressure where I don't "go with the flow" but try really hard not to make mistakes? When for example the second and third time are no real problem the fifth time seems much harder.


Then stop after the third time. laugh

Seriously. "Five times" is not a magic number; Instead, it is a concept that implies practice something a few times rather than many times. And do it slow enough to give your memory a clean "install" of the program. If you go super-slow, you can eliminate most if not all mistakes.

This is because many students over-practice things, going over and over and over the same thing, often with various mistakes, at speed, which gives the memory a mixed jumble of the good and the bad.
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#2046925 - 03/12/13 11:09 AM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Lost Woods]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5635
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: Lost Woods
Tried this and it is much more harder than it seems. . .Gotta work on my concentration and dicipline!


For me it's not quite "concentration and discipline" - it's awareness. The "x times in a row, slowed down enough to do it perfectly" is really "x times in a row, slowly enough that I'm intensely aware of what I'm doing and can do it the way I want" - slow enough I can anticipate what comes next and why, so it's the awareness that becomes habit, and is what allows me to become more musical. And the awareness, the "oneness with the music" is what liberates speed, if I need that in a particular piece, or phrasing that makes people want to dance, or whatever the music wants.

Not that I'm perfect at that laugh , but it's an immense help.

Cathy


Edited by jotur (03/12/13 11:11 AM)
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#2047525 - 03/13/13 08:41 AM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Marco M]
Lost Woods Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/13
Posts: 104
Loc: The Netherlands
Thanks for your helpfull replies smile
Maybe more general question;
How does it work when you have let's say this little 16 bar piece.
You memorize the first 8 bars.. and play them "perfectly" although on a very low tempo. After some practicing you manage the 5 times perfect. Now it's time to let it sink in and let the resting (/brain) work for you.

Can you now go on with the other 8 bars? Or another piece?
Or does it interfer with the practice of the first 8 bars?

How does it work when you practice more pieces at the same time?

edit: and o btw.. when you finished practicing it 5 times perfectly, you have to leave it for the rest of the day? Untill next practice?


Edited by Lost Woods (03/13/13 09:03 AM)

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#2047557 - 03/13/13 09:56 AM Re: the FIVE TIMES practice rule, from jazzwee´s blog [Re: Marco M]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 453
Loc: Europe
You can work on different difficulties in parallel. And you can repeat during the day, of course.
Just don´t go for endless periods of practicing (not 2 hours without a break), but do several smaller blocks (20 minutes) with pauses for relaxation of body and especially of mind in between. Intend to end your 20 minutes block with a successfull playing. Therefore you have to cut your problems down into smaller fractions, so that they can fit into the smaller time period in a way allowing you to finish it successfully.

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