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#2140353 - 08/28/13 05:30 PM How do great pianists practice?
rov Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 84
Loc: Mexico
Does anyone know how do the great pianist practice?, do they use slow practice or rhythms?, does anyone know?
_________________________
Piamo

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#2140404 - 08/28/13 07:04 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: rov]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4766
Loc: Seattle area, WA
One of my teachers at the VCM summer piano academy had this experience when she was studying at Peabody:

"I heard someone practicing on one of the grands, painfully slowly but with great beauty. My friend said, 'Do you know who that is??? That's Murray Perahia!'."

There's also a similar story in one of the books I read that refers to Rachmaninoff practicing very, very slowly.

Another story I heard at camp related to, (I think), Myra Hess. The person was early for an appointment to see her and so he stood outside her hotel room door listening. He heard her play a few notes followed by 10 to 20 minutes of silence. Then a few more notes, more silence, etc. When he questioned her, she said she was thinking.

I happen to think my own teacher is a great pianist and he uses both slow practice and rhythms. He also carefully listens to what he is playing and thinks about the execution of every single note.
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Deborah

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#2140423 - 08/28/13 08:01 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: rov]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5279
Loc: Philadelphia
I'm not sure this answer can be corroborated beyond anecdotal evidence, but I'm going to give it a shot anyway: differently. wink
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2140433 - 08/28/13 08:53 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: rov]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13759
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: rov
Does anyone know how do the great pianist practice?


The same as everybody else, but more often and with better ears, focus, conviction, and patience.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#2140532 - 08/29/13 02:23 AM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: Kreisler]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1023
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: rov
Does anyone know how do the great pianist practice?


The same as everybody else, but more often and with better ears, focus, conviction, and patience.


This sounds like a set up to a joke.

But it mostly reminds me of the great SNL skit (cowbell) with Christopher Walken in which he plays a music producer:

"Easy, guys, I put my pants on just like the rest of you: one leg at a time. Except, once my pants are on, I make gold records."
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suites, No. 3 BWV 814
Brahms, Op. 118 No. 2 Intermezzo A major
Chopin, Mazurka Op. 67 No.4
With the pedal I love to meddle; When Paderewski comes this way... -Irving Berlin

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#2140537 - 08/29/13 02:34 AM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19641
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: TwoSnowflakes
...."Easy, guys, I put my pants on just like the rest of you: one leg at a time...."

Actually I usually put on my pants both legs at the same time, but I'm still trying to figure out what's the best way to practice. grin

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#2140538 - 08/29/13 02:37 AM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: rov]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4750
Loc: USA
To be totally random, Mark, can you explain your profile picture? I remember it used to be in black/white. Is it an old photo of you? It looks like a baseball player to my imagination.

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#2140540 - 08/29/13 03:17 AM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: rov]
Opus_Maximus Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1478


Edited by Kreisler (08/30/13 09:31 AM)
Edit Reason: fixed link that caused page display error

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#2140681 - 08/29/13 11:56 AM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: JoelW]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19641
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: JoelW
To be totally random, Mark, can you explain your profile picture? I remember it used to be in black/white. Is it an old photo of you? It looks like a baseball player to my imagination.

Yes, it's an old baseball player, from way way back, named Red Ruffing. I use it because:

-- I like it
-- And it sort of looks like me. ha

In fact, it's not a real good pic of him; if you put it alongside other pics of him, you might think this couldn't also be him. I don't at all look like any of those other pics.

About it having been black and white before: You're probably right but I don't remember. At some point, maybe when I was changing something in my settings, the pic disappeared and I had to look for it online again, and wasn't sure if I'd found exactly the same one. This was what I found, and I remember wondering if the previous one had been in color too (I just never paid much attention). I guess it wasn't.

Good job. smile

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#2140789 - 08/29/13 02:13 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: Mark_C]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4750
Loc: USA
laugh


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#2140805 - 08/29/13 02:33 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: Mark_C]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3707
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Wow Joel... That guy looks just like our very own Mark_C!

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#2140811 - 08/29/13 02:54 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: rov]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5279
Loc: Philadelphia
Mark, please tell me you're not a Red Sux fan... say it ain't so!!! grin
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2140832 - 08/29/13 03:47 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: Derulux]
Old Man Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/12
Posts: 777
Loc: Michigan, USA
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Mark, please tell me you're not a Red Sux fan... say it ain't so!!! grin

Oh, it's probably even worse than that. He may be a Yankees fan! laugh

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#2140835 - 08/29/13 03:52 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: rov]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4750
Loc: USA
I know nothing of sports.

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#2140842 - 08/29/13 04:07 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: rov]
Plowboy Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2269
Loc: Huntington Beach, CA
I think he is a Yankees fan, which is why it's puzzling his avatar is a Red Sox player.
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Gary Schenk

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#2140849 - 08/29/13 04:16 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: rov]
Louis Podesta Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 670
Assignment 101, for someone who will not think less of themselves for consulting a reference source, as opposed to just blowing it out their ear, the way a lot of folks here do, is as follows: Obtain a copy of a fairly new book making the rounds entitled "Practicing Perfection, Memory and Piano Performance," by Roger Chaffin, Gabriela Imreh, and Mary Crawford.

These are a concert pianist named Gabriela Imreh, that I never heard of, and a husband and wife psychologist team.

First, they went out an surveyed the literature on what various concert pianists said about how they learned, practiced, and memorized a piece. Then, they surveyed the various studies that had been done on memory and learning at the piano. Finally, they took the Presto movement from the Italian Concerto, and had Imreh learn it from scratch, and then compiled and analyzed the data.

Instead of giving you my take on it, like I said, why don't one of you get a copy of the book, and present your assessment here. The conclusion I came to wasn't all that earth shattering, and I don't think yours will be either.

On that other website, out of Sweden, it is a very hot topic. Uh oh, I'm sorry for even mentioning another website.

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#2140931 - 08/29/13 07:46 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: Plowboy]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19641
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Plowboy
I think he is a Yankees fan, which is why it's puzzling his avatar is a Red Sox player.

He spent most of his career with the Yanks. smile

P.S. If it helps, even though I'm a Yankee fan I don't hate or even dislike the Red Sox (or Mets).

And y'know, someone who might have an even harder time not hating the Red Sox is one of the people who's now running for mayor of New York City (and the polls say he's leading): He's a RED SOX fan (since he's from the Boston area) and he's having to answer some tough questions about how he can be mayor of NYC but a Red Sox fan. ha

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#2140937 - 08/29/13 08:02 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6063
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus
http://www.pianoworld,,,etc,etc


Maybe you could fix your link so it doesn't screw up the whole page.
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#2141037 - 08/29/13 11:45 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: Mark_C]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5279
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Plowboy
I think he is a Yankees fan, which is why it's puzzling his avatar is a Red Sox player.

He spent most of his career with the Yanks. smile

P.S. If it helps, even though I'm a Yankee fan I don't hate or even dislike the Red Sox (or Mets).

And y'know, someone who might have an even harder time not hating the Red Sox is one of the people who's now running for mayor of New York City (and the polls say he's leading): He's a RED SOX fan (since he's from the Boston area) and he's having to answer some tough questions about how he can be mayor of NYC but a Red Sox fan. ha

Phew! I would hate to have to talk trash on the best AAA ball club around if you were a fan. grin

(And yes, I don't understand how NYC chooses its mayors.. very very strange process. Bloomberg tried to ban Coca-Cola, and now a BOSTON fan? If it were just the pianos, I'd understand, but the baseball team? WTH?)
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2141057 - 08/30/13 12:21 AM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: Louis Podesta]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 527
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: Louis Podesta
Assignment 101, for someone who will not think less of themselves for consulting a reference source, as opposed to just blowing it out their ear, the way a lot of folks here do, is as follows: Obtain a copy of a fairly new book making the rounds entitled "Practicing Perfection, Memory and Piano Performance," by Roger Chaffin, Gabriela Imreh, and Mary Crawford.

These are a concert pianist named Gabriela Imreh, that I never heard of, and a husband and wife psychologist team.

First, they went out an surveyed the literature on what various concert pianists said about how they learned, practiced, and memorized a piece. Then, they surveyed the various studies that had been done on memory and learning at the piano. Finally, they took the Presto movement from the Italian Concerto, and had Imreh learn it from scratch, and then compiled and analyzed the data.

Instead of giving you my take on it, like I said, why don't one of you get a copy of the book, and present your assessment here. The conclusion I came to wasn't all that earth shattering, and I don't think yours will be either.


I read that book just recently. Enjoyed reading it very much because it was well written and quite well thought out and methodologically sound research. What I got from it was:
1. There are different ways to achieve greatness, but there are certain things that are more common.
2. There are many similarities in the way I practice and the way Gabriela (and some of the others) practice. I just practice easier things and it takes me more time to achieve results, which will also ultimately be inferior because I don't have their background (and not necessarily all of the physical and mental qualities they have, which I call natural talents).


Edited by outo (08/30/13 12:24 AM)

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#2141183 - 08/30/13 04:32 AM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: rov]
Poppysmom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/20/13
Posts: 8
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
Hi, all--

I'm not sure where to put this question, but it does concern practice: I'm at the point where I need to start recording my practice sessions just for the feedback. And I have NO IDEA what would be the best device to buy for that. So . . . so some of you regularly record yourselves? What do you use? And, do you have equipment that produces a good enough tone that you could use it for creating a CD as well as for just private practice feedback? I'd really appreciate some ideas before I go out and hemorrhage money at Best Buy for the wrong gadgets . . . Thanks . . .
_________________________
Kate

"We are caught in a traffic jam of discursive thought." ~ Chogyam Trungpa
"We lie in the lap of immense intelligence." ~ Emerson

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#2141316 - 08/30/13 11:17 AM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: Poppysmom]
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17825
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: Poppysmom
Hi, all--

I'm not sure where to put this question, but it does concern practice: I'm at the point where I need to start recording my practice sessions just for the feedback. And I have NO IDEA what would be the best device to buy for that. So . . . so some of you regularly record yourselves? What do you use? And, do you have equipment that produces a good enough tone that you could use it for creating a CD as well as for just private practice feedback? I'd really appreciate some ideas before I go out and hemorrhage money at Best Buy for the wrong gadgets . . . Thanks . . .


I use a Zoom H4 to record my playing. It's simple to use, although the text on the viewing screen text is microscopic in size! I transfer the recording to my computer with the supplied USB connector, normalize the recording with Audacity, and make passable-quality CD's from the results.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#2141329 - 08/30/13 11:48 AM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: rov]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1023
I just got an H4n myself, and am experimenting with how to use it. I want to record my progress and also for general feedback. I've already been surprised to hear how very different it can sometimes sound once you listen back to it. Things that feel even to me I can hear are often not as even as I thought they were. Or the expression will be too much or too little change even though I heard it sound like I wanted it to when I played it.

I also think my piano is slightly out of tune, lol. Surprising what you can hear when you're just listening rather than listening AND playing at the same time.
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suites, No. 3 BWV 814
Brahms, Op. 118 No. 2 Intermezzo A major
Chopin, Mazurka Op. 67 No.4
With the pedal I love to meddle; When Paderewski comes this way... -Irving Berlin

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#2141405 - 08/30/13 01:56 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: rov]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3446
Who do you think are the 'great pianists'?

Valentina Lisitsa sometimes has a practice video stream where you can see her practice. That might answer your questions. What I saw there was basically playing through and here and there some polishing on pieces that apparently she already knew. I can't really believe one would play through at that speed on first time play but who knows :-p
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#2141531 - 08/30/13 07:55 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: JoelW]
Frankni Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/12/13
Posts: 147
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: JoelW
laugh



From here on the thread was renamed: How do great baseball players practice?

I guess the same answers apply: with a high level of concentration and attention to detail. In particular, where and how to hit the ball (pardon, the key).
_________________________
Yamaha C3, Sauter Delta 185

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#2141571 - 08/30/13 10:30 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: rov]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Who are the "great pianists"?

Are you talking about Classical pianists who have perfect technique? Or Jazz pianists who can improvise?

It's best to read up on a few blogs about playing piano.

Here are a few (they're on different topics about piano):

Practising the Piano
Piano Addict
Artiden

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#2141595 - 08/30/13 11:11 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: Bluoh]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1169
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Bluoh,

"It's best to read up on a few blogs about playing piano....Here are a few (they're on different topics about piano):..."

Do you have any idea where you are posting this response, and for whom? Did you read the responses that came before yours? You couldn't possibly have done so.

We were all wondering how someone like Horowitz or Rubinstein practiced, not Keith Jarret, who is quite overrated by all accounts, and not at all the piano genius you jazzers make him out to be.


Yes, I said it here. Let the slings and arrows fall where they may.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2141602 - 08/30/13 11:36 PM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: rov]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Hey laguna_greg,

Thanks for your message.

Yes, I know where I am posting my response.

I didn't want to write an essay here. Those blogs are written by qualified people and their ideas are valid, so I've linked to them.

Everyone focusses on different things because they all have natural tendencies. It also depends on the type of piece you're practicing, and your goals.

There's no "one method fits all".

For example, if you have naturally fast and strong fingers, you'll probably practice less technique, and focus on other things, like rhythm.

And, you'll practice differently if you're doing it for performance than for your own pleasure.

There are so many aspects to practicing, productively, that no one can sum it up in one post.

That's why I've linked to a few blogs, where the authors have spent years talking about this, they've put in thousands of hours. It'll be much more useful than one post on a forum.

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#2141610 - 08/31/13 12:05 AM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: laguna_greg]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Do you have any idea where you are posting this response, and for whom? Did you read the responses that came before yours?


Seeing as how the OP, rov, was ambiguous in his initial post (and made no effort to elaborate in additional posts or edits), it's rather presumptuous to assume that Bluoh was or is out of place with her advice. As for many of the so-called "responses," they hardly preclude from any further solicitation of advice.

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#2141627 - 08/31/13 12:39 AM Re: How do great pianists practice? [Re: gooddog]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: gooddog
Another story I heard at camp related to, (I think), Myra Hess. The person was early for an appointment to see her and so he stood outside her hotel room door listening. He heard her play a few notes followed by 10 to 20 minutes of silence. Then a few more notes, more silence, etc. When he questioned her, she said she was thinking.


A quote I have saved attributes this - or perhaps just something similar - to Rachmaninoff:
Originally Posted By: Abram Chasins’ inspiring book ‘Speaking of Pianists’, the part where he recalls a time with Rachmaninov:
Rachmaninov was a dedicated and driven perfectionist. He worked incessantly, with infinite patience. Once I had an appointment to spend an afternoon with him in Hollywood. Arriving at the designated hour of twelve, I heard an occasional piano sound as I approached the cottage. I stood outside the door, unable to believe my ears. Rachmaninov was practising Chopin’s etude in thirds, but at such a snail’s pace that it took me a while to recognise it be- cause so much time elapsed between one finger stroke and the next. Fascinated, I clocked this re- markable exhibition: twenty seconds per bar was his pace for almost an hour while I waited riveted to the spot, quite unable to ring the bell. Perhaps this way of developing and maintaining an unerring mechanism accounted for his bitter sarcasm toward colleagues who practised their programmes ‘once over lightly’ between concerts.


OP, as far as how great pianists practice, I'll approach the question with the assumption that you're referring to the classical idiom. It's my understanding that they practice with a wide variety of tools - if you will - ranging from slow practice, to rhythm variations, to outlining/skeletonizing, to strategic fast practice, with anything and everything in between, all with the goals of efficacy and efficiency in mind. To try and convey how to use such tools effectively over the internet, however, doesn't do them justice. On that note, do you have access to a piano teacher which you can take regular lessons from and with which you can familiarize with such tools?

At any rate, here are a few "practice tools" or lists of tools I keep bookmarked:

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