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#2126279 - 08/01/13 08:12 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2409
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Discovered that the upper notes give a simple stepwise melody
Hmm, that's interesting smile

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Played it through several times slowly and carefully...checking out the fingering...Played it through slowly a few times hands together...
No criticism here, simply comparison. I do the first run-through HT, slowly and carefully, yes, often one bar at a time, and use several repeats of each fragment, but I sort out distribution between the hands as well as preliminary fingering, where the different types of difficulties are, and where the sections, parts, phrases, bars, beats and units are that I'll be dividing the piece into.

I spend a bit of time here, sometimes ticking and cross ticking the bars on a squared grid in one corner of the page so I don't just play through. It may take a couple of days to do this.

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
I can't play these four beats all up to speed, which I take to be one of the goals of the method for the end of each 20 minute segment, but I feel like this is a physical skill I just don't quite understand yet, how to play this Alberti bass pattern fast. It's like learning to play a trill.
No, more like tremelo, I think. For me, trill is fingers but tremelo is wrist.

I play very fast Alberti figures in the Moonlight, 3rd movement. The thumb and pinky play more by wrist rotation than by moving the fingers much at all. The thumb and middle finger both 'play' the notes but the pinky barely moves at all. In fact, going to the piano instead of playing it on the desk the hand is rotating between 3 and 5 and the thumb is doing most of the work but again the pinky is barely moving, the rotation is whacking it down on the downbeats.
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#2126319 - 08/01/13 10:03 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: zrtf90]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Discovered that the upper notes give a simple stepwise melody
Hmm, that's interesting smile

I know you observed this first, but it didn't really sink in until I looked at it myself and traced it through the whole piece. Of course, I completely got the idea to look at it this way from you.

On the fast Alberti bass figure: I discovered something relevant while applying these practice principles to my Grieg Lyric Pieces and working on RH mm. 19-20 of 47.7 Elegy (piece #29 in the linked score; 3rd staff, 2nd and 3rd measures). This is a figure of 7 sixteenth notes with 2 grace notes, followed by a half note. I was using a technique I picked up from reading Bernhard's postings, which I think is what is called repeated note groups, except sometimes I see "repeated note groups" used and it seems to be referring to something else. Of course, as usual I can't find the Bernhard posting to link to it, but the idea is that you play the notes in all possible groups, starting in groups of 1, then pairs, then 3 notes, then 4 notes, etc.

So you start by playing each note. Then you play each pair, fast: C#D, DE, ED, DE, ED, DC#, C#D, DB, BC#. You repeat each pair as needed to get it fast. Then you play each group of three notes, repeating where needed to find the facility to play it fast: C#DE, DED, EDE, DED, EDC#, DC#D, C#DB, DBC#. Then you do this with each group of four notes: C#DED, DEDE, etc. Then with each group of 5 notes, 6 notes, etc. until you are playing the whole figure.

I amazed myself at the lightness and speed I achieved for the whole figure at the end of this process, which I didn't have at the beginning.

Tonight I will use this method on the Alberti bass figure in the Bach Prelude. It will be time very very very well spent since this figure happens so often in the piece so playing it efficient fast and relaxed will be one of the keys to playing this piece at the speed I'd like to eventually have for it.
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#2126336 - 08/01/13 10:35 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3220
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Tonight I will use this method on the Alberti bass figure in the Bach Prelude. It will be time very very very well spent since this figure happens so often in the piece so playing it efficient fast and relaxed will be one of the keys to playing this piece at the speed I'd like to eventually have for it.


I've used that method successfully. It is especially good for getting HT coordination down. For Alberti bass, the chord attack method helps too. I'd probably spend more time on chord attack than the notes with Alberti.

There is one possible risk with the repeated notes group. When you're doing only two notes, you can get by without forearm rotation. For the larger groups you need it, and you should have some for even two notes, though it will be small.
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#2126347 - 08/01/13 10:58 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Hi Tim, thanks for the suggestions. I don't see how chord attack helps me with Alberti bass, because my problem is getting the middle notes. I can use chord attack for runs in one direction, where the slightly slowed down version from infinite speed constitutes just rolling your wrist and hand across the notes (I guess technically this comes from the forearm...). I also have played through with blocked chords for the Alberti bass, to be sure I'm getting my hand to the right place. But I don't see how to get from the blocked chord to playing just slightly slowed down the 4-note Alberti bass figure.

In the repeated note groups, I'm being careful to have rotation all the time, including in the two note pairs. I really like the feeling. Actually, it's so evanescent I'm not even sure I can say I consciously feel something, but whatever evanescent thing I'm doing focusing on rotation, I like it.

For the Alberti bass, I came to the possible insight last night that as I'm rotating 5-3 for the middle two notes (RH) that I need to slightly lift 1 so it doesn't play the lowest note at the same time. And then slightly lower 1 again in time for the 5-1 rotation as I go into the next figure. Perhaps this is related to what Bobpickle described about what he feels his thumb doing.
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#2126460 - 08/01/13 02:29 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
JosephAC Offline
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Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
This morning I was reading this quote and I thought it was relevant to this thread:

"Practicing well is virtually an art in itself, the art of achieving an economy of time and means " David Soyer.

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#2126571 - 08/01/13 06:23 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
landorrano Offline
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Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2469
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
when I try to do interval identification I just feel like I'm failing, over and over.


Hi. If I may say a word about intervals, in my opinion it is normal to have a hard time identifying intervals, this is a skill of quite experienced musicians.

I don't know who you are thinking of who says that intervals are building blocks of music. For my part, I don't think that this is so. I consider that intervals have existence inside of tonality, they are a relation between degrees of a tonality. I'm not sure what distinguishes "Kodaly solfège" that you mentioned, but regular solfège that is widely taught in many European countries is basically a study of tonality. Recognizing intervals outside of a tonal framework, or being able to sing intervals outside of a tonal framework is a very advanced exercise that one undertakes only after years of systematic study of solfège.

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#2126588 - 08/01/13 06:51 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Loc: Maine
I can't recognize intervals inside a tonal framework either, not in any conscious way.

I didn't mean a different kind of solfege in referencing Kodaly solfege. I meant the system of teaching sight singing developed by Zoltan Kodaly.
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#2126590 - 08/01/13 06:55 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: landorrano]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: landorrano
I'm not sure what distinguishes "Kodaly solfège" that you mentioned, but regular solfège that is widely taught in many European countries is basically a study of tonality.

There is "Movable Do" solfège which goes by degrees, and what we find in the Mary Poppins Do a Deer (it actually teaches some of the concepts). Kodaly created a teaching system around this pre-existing movable Do solfège.

Some countries have given pitches the names of C,D,E,F,G etc., and other countries have given the same pitches the names of Do, Re, Mi, Fa.. etc. It's historical and cultural. This is generally known as "fixed Do" solfège to distinguish.

Originally Posted By: Landorrano

I consider that intervals have existence inside of tonality, they are a relation between degrees of a tonality. Recognizing intervals outside of a tonal framework, or being able to sing intervals outside of a tonal framework is a very advanced exercise that one undertakes only after years of systematic study of solfège.


By intervals within a tonal framework, I think you mean where you have music that is in a major or minor key, and you hear that the music is going from note 1 to note 4 (in movable do - Do Fa --- in C major, C F), or from note 3 to note 8 (movable do - Mi Do -- in C major, E C) - is that correct? So you are not hearing the interval (its quality) as such, but in recognizing the distance you sort of do. (?) It sounds like the world I was in for a very long time.

Do you hear simultaneous intervals? If you do, do you translate them back into the kind that you can sing, one note at a time?

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#2126594 - 08/01/13 06:59 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
keystring Online   content
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What does "chord attack" mean? (Previous posts)

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#2126602 - 08/01/13 07:31 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
landorrano Offline
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Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2469
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
I can't recognize intervals inside a tonal framework either, not in any conscious way.

I didn't mean a different kind of solfege in referencing Kodaly solfege. I meant the system of teaching sight singing developed by Zoltan Kodaly.


As I said, it seems normal to me, I don't think that there are many, if any, beginning level music students who can. Even an octave can be devilishly hard to put your finger on. Still I'm curious about your reference to Kodaly, because solfège existed long before Kodaly's time. I mean, is there something particular that you know about Kodaly's use of solfège which interests you? Or is it simply the general idea of approaching reading through singing?



Edited by landorrano (08/01/13 07:33 PM)

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#2126620 - 08/01/13 08:16 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: keystring]
Whizbang Offline
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Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 788
Originally Posted By: keystring
Mary Poppins Do a Deer


"Mary Poppins" is certainly full of great music, but "Do, a Deer" is actually from "The Sound of Music".
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#2126639 - 08/01/13 09:30 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: Whizbang]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Whizbang
Originally Posted By: keystring
Mary Poppins Do a Deer


"Mary Poppins" is certainly full of great music, but "Do, a Deer" is actually from "The Sound of Music".

You caught me in my greatest weakness - names. crazy Julie Andrews, yes. Mary Poppins, no. Sound of Music, yes.

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#2126691 - 08/01/13 11:46 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3220
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
What does "chord attack" mean? (Previous posts)


There's another name for it but I couldn't remember it.

Chord attack means to play a pattern of notes simultaneously, at infinite speed, then figure out how to slow it down to the speed actually needed.

It could be a 5 finger run, like C-D-E-F-G, or any other pattern that you can play with one drop of the hand. You can't go faster than to hit all the notes at once!
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#2126695 - 08/01/13 11:51 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3220
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring

There is "Movable Do" solfège which goes by degrees, and what we find in the Mary Poppins Do a Deer (it actually teaches some of the concepts). Kodaly created a teaching system around this pre-existing movable Do solfège.



I had always believed the Do a Deer song demonstrated movable do (which makes more sense to me than fixed do, but I'm aware there are reasons to disagree).

After all, in the movie it's in Bb. In fixed do it would have to be in C.

But wait. I researched it a bit, because after all we're talking Austria, which tends to be a fixed do country. And it turns out the song was written in C, and transposed to Bb during filming because Julie had a cold.

So it really could be either.
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#2126696 - 08/01/13 11:57 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: TimR]
Whizbang Offline
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Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 788
Originally Posted By: TimR
There's another name for it but I couldn't remember it.


Also called "blocking".
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#2126699 - 08/02/13 12:07 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
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Posts: 11731
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Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: keystring

There is "Movable Do" solfège which goes by degrees, and what we find in the Mary Poppins Do a Deer (it actually teaches some of the concepts). Kodaly created a teaching system around this pre-existing movable Do solfège.



I had always believed the Do a Deer song demonstrated movable do (which makes more sense to me than fixed do, but I'm aware there are reasons to disagree).

After all, in the movie it's in Bb. In fixed do it would have to be in C.

But wait. I researched it a bit, because after all we're talking Austria, which tends to be a fixed do country. And it turns out the song was written in C, and transposed to Bb during filming because Julie had a cold.

So it really could be either.

Bad wording on my part. I meant two things that are the same - not movable do (on the one hand) and Do a Deer (on the other hand). Yes, it does illustrate movable Do. That's what I intended to say.

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#2126845 - 08/02/13 09:15 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: landorrano]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
I can't recognize intervals inside a tonal framework either, not in any conscious way.

I didn't mean a different kind of solfege in referencing Kodaly solfege. I meant the system of teaching sight singing developed by Zoltan Kodaly.


As I said, it seems normal to me, I don't think that there are many, if any, beginning level music students who can. Even an octave can be devilishly hard to put your finger on. Still I'm curious about your reference to Kodaly, because solfège existed long before Kodaly's time. I mean, is there something particular that you know about Kodaly's use of solfège which interests you? Or is it simply the general idea of approaching reading through singing?

Forget I said solfege. Kodaly has a particular approach to teaching sightsinging that apparently is very successful. There may be other methods as well; Kodaly's happens to be the one that I have heard about; his method may be very similar to how everybody else does it too.

I think of it as a method, not so much about reading for instruments where you can press a key or keys and the pitch comes out, but as a method for teaching sightsinging, that is allowing you to know with your mind and voice what (relative) pitch should come out.

Those two may be very intertwined for you because of how you learned music. For me they are very separate.
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#2126856 - 08/02/13 09:50 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Loc: Maine
Journal 7: Thu. Aug. 1. After being very very sporadic in my practicing the past couple of weeks, I am now trying to get a nice continuous run for a week -- reestablish a daily habit. Bernhard advises daily practice because you forget too much with even the gap of every other day practice. With daily practice each day's practice can solidly build on the day before. I want to experience that kind of building, rather than perpetually struggling with the same issues without end.

I asked in the other practice thread with how to balance this daily idea with the observed phenomenon that sometimes if you take a break from something, when you come back to it you can do it noticeably better than before. No clear answers, but here on the Bernhard thread I'm experimenting with doing it Bernhard's way (caveats about there is no Bernhard's way, Bernhard teaches differently depending on the particular needs of the particular student, Bernhard may have evolved and changed how he teaches since he was posting on pianostreet, you have to evaluate methods for how well they work for you, Bernhard did not mean the small slice of his methods about which he wrote to be followed inflexibly, etc. etc. etc. But I'm still going for daily practice in this phase.)

Bach Prelude BWV 927. Returned to my practice section: the four beats constituting the second half of m. 8 and the first half of m. 9, plus the following note or two for continuity. Was pleased to discover that I remembered the notes, except for the following notes which I had only added partway through yesterday's practice. Did the repeated note groups for each hand, HS. Am starting to get a feel for what the RH Alberti figure might feel like at speed, but can't sustain it yet. Got LH hook and run to a delightfully fluid place -- I can now play the LH faster than I can yet play the RH.

I really like repeated note groups: I can feel my facility improving as I progress through the groups to more and more notes.

Am applying these ideas to my Grieg Lyric Pieces as well (although not so much on the first one, as you'll see).

Grieg 57.3 Illusion. The first Lyric Piece I took on, 57.3 Illusion, not so much Bernhard ideas. I can play this all the way through. There are a few places that were solid but seem to need cleaning up again; I probably need to find the patience to review them solidly with repeated note groups. But mostly I'm on playthroughs, experimenting with different types of expression in the piece. This piece, in 3/4, is largely a repeated pattern of a dotted eighth and three sixteenth notes. In today's practice it occurred to me to lighten up the three sixteenth notes (partly helped by also slightly emphasizing the dotted eighth notes). I like the effect -- to me it makes the piece seem more musical, instead of a nondescript repeated banged-out rhythm.

For my next practice, I think I'll break this up and practice each phrase separately, exploring expression for it in depth before moving onto the next phrase.

One of the things that is important to me is to be able to vary the interpretation of pieces I play, so that I can explore the boundaries of how to play it, and come back with more ideas to apply to what I might choose as the core interpretation. Or just play it a different way every time. I hold this in balance with wanting to be able to have at least one core interpretation that I can play: I want variation in how I play to be deliberate, not a result of being unable to control what I'm playing.

Grieg 65.3 Melancholy. The second Lyric Piece I took on, 65.3 Melancholy, is in a state where I can play it through slowly and more or less hesitantly, but I don't really have control of it, nor can I make the tempo contrasts that I would like it to have for the stringendo and allegro agitato sections. So I'm backing up and learning it in sections à la Bernhard. This piece is a reach for me in difficulty, which is concretely evidenced in that there are a lot of difficult sections that need particular work. If I try to think of a schedule for these sections, I get depressed about how I can possibly get it ready for Sept. 10. So I'm not thinking about a schedule. I think that the difficult sections fall into a smaller number of types, so hopefully if I master one from each type I will find that I can learn the later examples of those types more quickly.

Grieg 47.7 Elegy. The third Lyric piece I took on, 47.7 Elegy, I'm applying Bernhard's methods essentially from the outset. This one is much more manageable than 65.3 Melancholy. The challenges are quick reading for some highly accidental LH parts, a RH sixteenth note figure with grace notes, and three LH arpeggios. I've learned mm. 17-20 HS, and started putting them together last night. Very wierd -- I'm having a hard time putting them together. I don't usually spend so much time HS before putting a passage HT: I'm wondering if spending a lot of time HS is causing my HT challenge. Or this might just be a red herring. Bernhard has some posts somewhere about putting hands together; I'll read them and look for some ideas.


Edited by PianoStudent88 (08/02/13 10:56 AM)
Edit Reason: Added a link to Bernhard post, and corrected a measure number
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#2126869 - 08/02/13 10:29 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11731
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Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: keystring
What does "chord attack" mean? (Previous posts)


There's another name for it but I couldn't remember it.

Chord attack means to play a pattern of notes simultaneously, at infinite speed, then figure out how to slow it down to the speed actually needed.

It could be a 5 finger run, like C-D-E-F-G, or any other pattern that you can play with one drop of the hand. You can't go faster than to hit all the notes at once!


Thanks. Now I know what everyone has been talking about. smile

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#2126876 - 08/02/13 10:43 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: landorrano]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Originally Posted By: landorrano

As I said, it seems normal to me, I don't think that there are many, if any, beginning level music students who can. Even an octave can be devilishly hard to put your finger on.

Can we actually know what music students can do in general? To know this, one would have had to teach many students over a long period of time, and tried numerous methods. If you (generic you) are a student, and in a program with classmates, then you will know your own experiences, and you can observe patterns among your classmates. But you won't know what is happening in other classes using other approaches, or what private teachers are doing with students here and there? If you are a teacher then what you observe will be based on how you taught, what you taught, which material you used etc. Can we really know what students can do? Or only along our own points of references?

Quote:

Still I'm curious about your reference to Kodaly, because solfège existed long before Kodaly's time.

I seem to remember that you are studying along an organized system of music study in your country. Kodály created (a different) organized system in 1935 in Europe. For notes (pitches-relative pitch) he started with the movable Do solfège system but did things to it in the way it would be taught. His system involved much more than just solfège. It has been adopted in a few countries and I hear that it enjoys some success.

This article seems to be a good starter for gaining some familiarity. I think that there are some videos of sample lessons and performances around.

article on Kodály method


Edited by keystring (08/02/13 10:47 AM)

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#2127690 - 08/03/13 09:40 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Journal 8, Fri. Aug. 1.

Bach Prelude BWV 927. Start the next four beats: second half of m. 9 and first half of m. 10. Remembering these notes feels easy today.

Grieg Lyric Piece 57.3 Illusion. Working phrases individually from the end of the first section before the same material returns. Worked on phrase mm. 27-30, concentrating to get all the fingering to feel reliable. Then moved to phrase mm. 16-21, in particular blocking the RH notes in mm. 20-21. These have been falling apart lately, so I'm working on getting my hand to reliably know and be intimately familiar with where to go for each beat.

A small breakthrough on the last beat of m. 17: I'll take the top two notes GD with RH, and the B with LH. I'd been trying to roll this tall chord with my RH, but haven't been able to get it fast or smooth enough. It sounds much better now with the LH helping.

Grieg Lyric Piece 65.3 Melancholy. Mm. 18-21, as three separate units. Working on m. 18, my LH starts to hurt from all the octaves. This alarms me. I need to be careful with my octave technique, and careful not to overdo things (but with better technique, overdoing wouldn't be such a risk, I think).

Grieg Lyric Piece 47.7 Elegy. LH F#7 arpeggio mm. 33-34. Getting it to feel natural. Then put HT mm. 17-20. I couldn't get HT at all on the previous practice, but in this practice they come together smoothly.
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#2127707 - 08/03/13 10:13 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Journal 9, Sat. Aug. 2.

Bach Prelude BWV 927. Yesterday's four beats (second half of m. 9 and first half of m. 10) already feel so good that I start putting them together with the previously learned four beats. Uh-oh. Things start to fall apart, especially (but not only) across the middle as I join the two halves of m. 9. Leads you to wonder what "learned" really is. Slow things down and concentrate on the moves for going from beat 2 to beat 3 in m. 9. Discover that shape of the first four beats is subtly different from the next four beats, as far as the following note goes: in the first set, the Dm7 arpeggio is followed by the same note: D. In the second set, the Em7b5 arpeggio is followed by the next note up: F, not E. practice this enough until it feels like I got it. (Must remind myself of what I said on another thread: tomorrow it might be all gone again, and per Bernhard this is entirely to be expected and entirely OK.)

Grieg Lyric Piece 47.7 Elegy. Felt too impatient to put much time into LH F#7 arpeggio mm. 33-34.

Returned to HT mm. 17-20. Today it's not coming together easily (as I write this now, I'm reminding myself that this is to be expected: yesterday's end point is seldom today's beginning point). Practice this by playing very slowly, adding one note at a time. Then after several repeats of the first two notes, do the first three notes. Repeat, then onto four notes. Work out the first two measures, then the second two measures, then put them together.

Grieg Lyric Piece 65.3 Melancholy. Being cautious about the octaves. Work on L thumb only for the octave passage in m. 18, then fingers 5-4 only for the bottom notes of the octave. Then octaves. The biggest challenge is accurately jumping E to G. Work on looping EGF until I can do it without looking. Curiously, I can easily do the later jump DC -- I think because middle C is more easily in view.

In m. 19, the RH starts 1, 23, 5 on A, DF, B. I've been using 23, 5 on the continued RH DF, B (and taking the As with LH). This is in order to play the same pattern of notes with the same fingers. Decide to try out the editorial suggested fingering 12, 4 for the higher DF, B repetitions. Veeeeerrrry interesting: this used to be very confusing to me, but now it feels much better than 23, 5, and makes the whole sixteenth note run less labored.

Grieg Lyric Piece 57.3 Illusion. My right wrist is suddenly hurting from something I've been practicing, although I'm not sure what. This is doubly alarming after yesterday's LH pain. I need to be careful about what I'm doing: alternating and resting hands (Bernhard's suggestion), and also this suggests that I need to pay attention to my technique, motions, and relaxation

Half-heartedly play a few phrases, then call it a night for piano practice.

Chorus. Start practicing my choral pieces instead. I've borrowed a little bit of a Bernhard page for these, and am working in smaller sections, and repeating them 7 times. Once alone, once with each of the other three parts, once with both alto parts (I sing Alto I), and then two more times in whichever combination strikes my fancy, fills out 7x nicely. I'm finding that this is getting my notes more solidly into my head. Bernhard's method for piano isn't just 7x repeats, but I don't quite have an idea for what would fill up the 20 minute choral practice after the 7x repeat establishes the section. Anyway, I feel like just the 7x and the small sections is helping me make much better progress at learning my choral parts.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2127709 - 08/03/13 10:17 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Today's practice was a little sloppy methodologically. I wasn't starting with 7x repeats, and I didn't have a careful focus of re-achieving the same point of success at which I ended yesterday's practice. Sure, the method is not meant to be rigid, but I want to seriously try out these exact ideas, and not leap too quickly to over-adapting this into my previous sort of adequate but less than stellar methods.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2127917 - 08/04/13 12:05 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2409
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Today's practice was a little sloppy...
This is not an uncommon problem when following a systematic method that needs a lot of discipline. There's no harm having a day of rest!

What may become a problem is continuing with the same piece(s) on that rest day when your care or concentration is not at peak.

I've chosen to combat this by changing my practise session at the weekends to cover memorised repertoire, reviewing on going pieces not covered in the last week and general technical work on etudes or musicianship. I also change my pieces from week to week, too. It's not that I get bored with them so much as that I get frustrated with the lack of progress.

Do you find that with some pieces you reach a plateau and have to wait a while before your progress on them becomes noticeable? I found this and started dropping pieces when it happened. Most of the time I had improved when I returned to them but had learnt something else in the meantime and doubling my long term progress. I now make this part of my regimen.

You might experiment to find out how long you go on a piece before you start to plateau.
_________________________
Richard

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#2128039 - 08/04/13 05:13 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Richard, thanks for the ideas about rest days, and about plateauing. I'll think about rest days. I'll also see if I can discern any evidence about plateauing. I don't know quite how I'd tell, but one of Bernhard's ideas is that you should see progress on a section within a week. So I'll keep that in mind.

Yesterday's practice wasn't sloppy in terms of how I played. It was sloppy in terms of applying Bernhard's methods.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2128076 - 08/04/13 06:28 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Journal 10, Sun., Aug. 3.

Today's was a more focused practice than yesterday's. I'm not spending 20 minutes on each of the following sections; just as much time as it takes to get it where I want it. (Bernhard talks about this: it's fine to be done faster, and occasionally even to go over.)

Bach Prelude BWV 927

More practice on the same measures. Repeated note groups mm. 9-10a, HS, bringing up speed and getting the pattern solid in my mind and hand. Explored the changes in hand position: which finger(s) move position and when. Then extended to mm. 8b-10a, doing repeated beat groups: like repeated note groups, but using each beat as the unit. First play every beat. Then every pair of beats. Then every set of three beats. And so on up to the whole passage. (You can also do this as repeated figure groups, if your figures aren't equal to a beat.)

From some of the difficulties I had gluing my two sections together (8b-9a glued to 9b-10a), I've learned that when I learn a section I need to include not just the note following, but the whole blocked hand position following.

Grieg Lyric Piece 47.7 Elegy

I haven't always been practicing my three Lyric Pieces in the same order, but today I practiced then in numerical order and I might keep that up to make these journals easier to compare from one to the next.

Mm. 33-34, LH arpeggio, repeated note groups. Paid particular attention to the two shifts of hand position, and getting my finger squarely over the C# (first note in the new position both times) before playing it, instead of just sort of sliding onto it at random angles.

Mm. 17-20, HT is holding at slow speeds. Did several repeats. Not quite sure what to do with my 20 minutes. Tomorrow, maybe repeated note groups HT, or rhythms? I still need to read Bernhard's suggestions about HT.

Started mm. 21-24 HS. It repeats mm. 17-20, but a whole step higher. Repeated note groups on the sixteenth note figure RH mm. 23-24, just to have done it, but this figure felt quite easy to do: the learning from its sibling in the previous phrase has paid off and transferred to this figure.

Did some desultory work on the LH-only phrase in mm. 35-38. I'm not necessarily planning to play this piece from memory, but this passage, simple as it appears, has some surprise fingering in it for me, and I'd like to be able to play it without writing every single finger into the score. I'm trying to make the sequence of notes make sense to me. Noticed there's a pattern repeated in descending half steps: E# C# E#, E C E, D# B (starts next figure, so no following D#).

Grieg Lyric Piece 57.3 Illusion

Tested HT phrase mm. 27-30. Got it in one. Hooray!

Went to phrase mm. 19-21, RH. (It really starts in m. 18, or maybe even a LH pickup from m. 17, but what I really wanted to pay attention to was the second half of the phrase.). Need to work on the three descending figures mm. 20-21a: getting my hand correctly and immediately into exactly the right position.

MAJOR DISCOVERY: discovered that this is where my right wrist pain is coming from. Cut practice short on this section. Tomorrow I'll carefully examine the fine points of position and motion in these figures, body shoulder upper arm lower arm wrist hand finger, and also find where there's any tension and if I can release it.

Resting my RH, moved to the voicing challenges of the LH melody in mm. 6-9. Practiced in a whole variety of ways drawing from the suggestions in my thread on voicing a while ago. Then discovered, quite by accident, that I could play the soft notes (alone) much softer if I played them with a flexible wrist! AHA! Went through my practicing in a variety of ways all over again, this time with a flexible wrist. I still can't get the whole sequence of chords reliably with both the loud and the soft notes at the same time, but one of the building blocks of voicing, I think, is can you play the notes alone at their appropriate dynamic.

I think in all my practicing I need to be checking: am I playing this with flexible wrists?

Grieg Lyric Piece 65.3 Melancholy

Reviewed mm. 18-20 HS, then started HT. Because of the way m. 19 fits together, I've been practicing it HT already, and m. 20 is LH only anyway, so just m. 18 HT was new. It came together very smoothly: hooray, I think this means that the HS work has paid off. Score one for Bernhard.

In light of my MAJOR DISCOVERY above about sources of RH wrist pain, I examined the RH positions in mm. 16-18 for proper alignment. These are rising figures of a ninth with a note in the middle: awkward. The biggest puzzle is moving/reaching a sixth D to B on fingers 2 to 5. But I also discovered that given the angle of my forearm for most of these notes, my hand should be angled to the keyboard. I'll continue exploring these positions, alignment, and movement tomorrow.

Started work on the 2 against 3 rhythm HT in m. 16. The work with Richard's suggestion to use the phrase strawberry jam, and how to learn this rhythm by building up from simpler parts, has really helped. Did some 123456-per-beat counting to get the transition from duplets on beat 1 to 2 against 3 on beat 2. For the first time, I could feel the rhythm behind the counting, and it felt smooth and like a rhythm I'll eventually be able to remember without counting. That feels good. I'm going to think of ways to practice this longer rhythm -- duplets to 2 against 3 -- building it up from simpler parts. I can manage switching between duplets and triplets, so I think that will be my starting point.

Just played the upper notes of the LH, instead of octaves, for this. I want to get the 2 against 3 rhythm figured out first and then add the octaves.


Edited by PianoStudent88 (08/04/13 06:50 PM)
Edit Reason: Fixing formatting

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#2128842 - 08/06/13 08:34 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2409
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Yesterday's practice wasn't sloppy in terms of how I played. It was sloppy in terms of applying Bernhard's methods.
That's exactly where we falter when we try to follow a systematic method. It's the application of the system that requires such rigour and trust.

A day off from your system is no harm at all, I take every weekend off.

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Bach Prelude BWV 927

More practice on the same measures. Repeated note groups mm. 9-10a, HS, bringing up speed and getting the pattern solid in my mind and hand. Explored the changes in hand position: which finger(s) move position and when. Then extended to mm. 8b-10a, doing repeated beat groups: like repeated note groups, but using each beat as the unit. First play every beat. Then every pair of beats. Then every set of three beats. And so on up to the whole passage. (You can also do this as repeated figure groups, if your figures aren't equal to a beat.)

From some of the difficulties I had gluing my two sections together (8b-9a glued to 9b-10a), I've learned that when I learn a section I need to include not just the note following, but the whole blocked hand position following.
I know you're trying to follow Bernhard's method "to the letter" but I'm having concerns here that you might want to think about.

This little opusculum has a very limited number of finger patterns and you've chosen a passage that, when finished, will leave just the last bar to sort out. The rest should be easy enough, co-ordination issues aside.

If you're trying to build speed HS before you go on to the next passage I think you're going to spend too much time here with very little benefit. If you don't have the tempo already then set this passage aside as a technical exercise and return to the piece when you have it.

My advice would be to use this as a co-ordination exercise and leave the tempo until you "have" the tempo for these figures. To build the tempo go on to other material. Suggestions I can think of are Burgmüller's Op. 25/16, the final Allegro from Haydn's Sonata XVI/8, the first movement of his XVI/1 in C or Kuhlau's Sonatina Op. 20/1. You can even use this piece to build the tempo once you've finished it but I wouldn't try to get each passage up to tempo before you move on to the next one.

I'm being presumptuous but I don't think Bernhard would have condoned this either.
_________________________
Richard

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#2128953 - 08/06/13 01:36 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
woodog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 405
Loc: Bowling Green, KY
PS88,

Are you using this thread as your feedback loop (the planning, execution and evaluation) part?

Or do you keep a handwritten 'need to do' 'what I did' and 'comments'.

also, is this thread okay to hop on with how/what/when I'm working?

Forrest
_________________________
-------------------
current studies:
Debussy: Suite Bergamasque
Bach 848, 866
Schumann Op. 15

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#2128976 - 08/06/13 02:23 PM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
woodog, definitely jump on with details! This isn't meant to be just my details! The more the merrier!

I'm in hope that the detailed journals illustrate what the process of applying methods learned from Bernhard is like. Plus I get helpful comments, which helps me laugh but hopefully also helps other people thinking about or trying this method, or adapting it, or even mostly ignoring it but looking for tips for their own methods.

I don't have my own paper journal for this yet. I'd like to start something that is brief the way you showed your journal, so I can easily look back and see when I started a section.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2130282 - 08/09/13 09:47 AM Re: Practicing what Bernhard teaches: a workshop thread [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Journal 11, Wed., Aug. 7.

I skipped practice on Monday night: choir, and then watching the Yankees game and all the Alex Rodriguez coverage.

Skipped practice again Tuesday night: another Yankees game, and browsing the web for even more Alex Rodriguez coverage.

Plus I was feeling terribly discouraged about my piano playing.

Wednesday night, I still felt discouraged, plus I had a discouraging day at work. Went over my measures in a minimal and distinterested fashion, and called it quits. As part of that minimal practice though, I started exploring hand/arm position. More on that in Thursday night's practice...
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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