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#2230370 - 02/12/14 01:22 PM I Need Practice Tips
Cristian88 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/14
Posts: 25
A few questions for all the kind people here:

How long should you practice without a break? For example, if I practice 1 1/2 hours daily, would it be best to go 45 min playing, break for 10 or 15 min, and finish, or go in half hour segments or go the whole hour and a half in one sitting? Are 10 minute breaks enough?

I've noticed after a certain amount of time of playing a piece, my brain starts to get scrambled and basically hit a point where I begin to regress on new pieces I'm learning. I'm only a month in here, so I don't really know how to make practice time efficient.

Also, I'm learning from the Adult Faber Piano series but don't wanna be bored to death, as many pieces I've never really heard of or don't like. I'm on Adult Book 2 and wondering if a routine of book practice for 2 days and playing music of personal choice for 1 day (2 book, 1 personal, 2 book, 1 personal, etc...) a solid foundation?

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#2230381 - 02/12/14 01:41 PM Re: I Need Practice Tips [Re: Cristian88]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12225
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Ideally, you would play through music you are working on/learning every day. So maintenance stuff you can play 3-4 times a week or maybe less, depending on how well you retain (same can do once/week), but the rest should be at least touched upon every day.

You will have to find a sweet spot for yourself. Practicing after that scrambled brain kicks in means you will not retain what you did. For me some days I can go for long periods of time (an hour) without a break, other days, I can only do 10 minutes. I never go longer than an hour without a break though. It's good to get off the bench and walk around a bit, let the eyes rest, etc.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2230432 - 02/12/14 02:52 PM Re: I Need Practice Tips [Re: Cristian88]
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1100
Loc: Southern California
I am a low level beginner. My suggestion is 15 to 20 minutes at a time with a short 1 to 3 minute break after each. So for 90 minutes, there might be five segments of 15 to 20 minutes each with very short breaks in between. People are different, so you can experiment and find what works best for you. On some days you will have more focus than others.

You didn't ask, but the most valuable tips I have gleaned from this forum are to slow way down, and to work on small segments of music. Play each small segment of music five to ten times correctly, before moving to the next. As a person gets better, or more familiar with the piece, the segments can be expanded.

I also suggest some time focused on sight reading, ear training, and rhythm training, on top of any piece work.
_________________________
my piano uploads

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#2230455 - 02/12/14 03:23 PM Re: I Need Practice Tips [Re: Cristian88]
LS35A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/31/09
Posts: 139
Loc: Hayden, ID
Listen to me very, very carefully here:

Go to fundamentalkeys.com and buy Rachel's book. It's only $25 and you want it.

Boring and or crappy music is the KISS OF DEATH FOR PIANO STUDENTS.

Rachel knows this (I've seen her talk about it on some of her videos) and she has done an OUTSTANDING JOB of putting together beautiful, fun to play real classical music pieces.

Trust me on this.... if the music doesn't move you, REPLACE IT.

I finished Alfred book 1 and pretty much hated book2. Then I found 'Fundamental Keys' and now I look forward to every day's practice session.


PS: When your brain starts to go take a break, quit for the day, or play another piece.

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#2230458 - 02/12/14 03:27 PM Re: I Need Practice Tips [Re: Sand Tiger]
LS35A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/31/09
Posts: 139
Loc: Hayden, ID
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger
I am a low level beginner. My suggestion is 15 to 20 minutes at a time with a short 1 to 3 minute break after each. So for 90 minutes, there might be five segments of 15 to 20 minutes each with very short breaks in between. People are different, so you can experiment and find what works best for you. On some days you will have more focus than others.

You didn't ask, but the most valuable tips I have gleaned from this forum are to slow way down, and to work on small segments of music. Play each small segment of music five to ten times correctly, before moving to the next. As a person gets better, or more familiar with the piece, the segments can be expanded.

I also suggest some time focused on sight reading, ear training, and rhythm training, on top of any piece work.


Some pearls of wisdom there, particularly the 'slow way down', 'small segments' and 'play it ten times correctly'.

I used to think if I could 'sort of' sight read something that was good enough and moved on. No. Now its pretty much memorize every single piece.
Good stuff.

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#2230529 - 02/12/14 05:22 PM Re: I Need Practice Tips [Re: Sand Tiger]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1651
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger
.... work on small segments of music. Play each small segment of music five to ten times correctly, before moving to the next.


Use the natural phrases of the music as your small segments. Always begin at the beginning of a phrase, but end your segments by overlapping one note or chord into the next phrase. The overlaps help a lot when you put the segments together into a whole piece.

When you're actually playing the piece, if you make a big mistake, you can always get back in at the beginning of the next segment. Avoid the habit of jumping backward in time to "do it right"
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2230533 - 02/12/14 05:34 PM Re: I Need Practice Tips [Re: Cristian88]
Leon Harrell Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/12
Posts: 7
Loc: Urbana
I have found that having a practice structure works miracles.

Choose a set amount of time to practice. If you are doing 1.5 hours that's amazing but 1 hour is sufficient for me for when I'm playing for fun (not prepping for a performance)

Start with 5 mins of scales

Divide the rest of the time into goals.

Each goal (8 measures for example) should be worked on for 5-10 minutes slowly. Then progress to the next goal.

If you can't achieve a goal in 10 minutes divide it into 2 or more goals.

The secret is to pre-plan the practice. Make a list of the passages that are troublesome and break them into the goals. Separate hands, write in chords or roman numerals, write in counting, make notes to yourself, and use colored pencils to highlight and draw attention to things you are making mistakes on.

Slow methodic practice on each goal will be better than 45 minutes of simple repetition.

With a goal list method you can always start and stop when necessary but pick back up where you left off the next time while still maintaining an equal amount of focus in each passage.

Also a practice journal will help immensely.

Good luck on your musical journey

-Leon


Edited by casinitaly (02/22/14 06:47 AM)
Edit Reason: edited to remove personal advertising
_________________________
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#2230536 - 02/12/14 05:37 PM Re: I Need Practice Tips [Re: Cristian88]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2458
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
How long I can spend at the piano varies with what's going on in my life. On weekends I can spend a couple of hours at the piano without a break and not know it. If work is busy and challenging I may not have the mental capacity to practise at all that day. Experience with the instrument helps. 90 minutes a day is very heavy for someone only a month in.

As an example, if you do a ten-minute stint spend a minute putting your coffee in the microwave, if you do forty minutes a time spend five or ten minutes making a coffee and drinking it.

I would spend only a short time on each piece proportionate to the time you've been playing. Two or three slow and careful repetitions a day for a week does more good than twenty or thirty attempts each day for a week because the last few repetitions each day usually ingrain mistakes that take an age to fix.

I find that if I structure my routine I get more done in a shorter time than if I just sit down at the piano without a fixed agenda. Others may be different. You have to find what works best with you and in order to compare you have to write it down - what you do and how much you do or how well you do it.

If you're concentrating on what you're doing you won't get bored. If you're "doing things" rather than "learning pieces" you won't really care whether you like the stuff or not - it's the work that's fun.

You do need variety so pick several different pieces, either from Faber or a wider range of sources. Do one where you play through twice each day gradually getting quicker and more accurate, another that you master hands separately first, all the way through and up to tempo before you put hands together, a third piece that you practise hands separately and hands together alternately working one measure plus the next note (or one phrase plus the first note of the next) two or three times each, a fourth piece that you practise only as much of as you can memorise in a few plays, another that you only practise as much of as you can memorise from the score away from the piano, one that you play from memory and are bringing out more of the music and another that you only know from hearing and don't have the score.

This is a lot for a beginner but you might get the idea.
_________________________
Richard

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#2230538 - 02/12/14 05:40 PM Re: I Need Practice Tips [Re: Cristian88]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2458
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Wow, Leon, great first post! Welcome to the forum smile
_________________________
Richard

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#2230540 - 02/12/14 05:46 PM Re: I Need Practice Tips [Re: zrtf90]
Leon Harrell Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/12
Posts: 7
Loc: Urbana
Thanks, I'm always glad to help other musicians when I can.
_________________________
In all my years as a piano teacher I've never seen a better piano learning software than this! Click here to get a free 30-day trial and read my full review.

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#2230542 - 02/12/14 05:52 PM Re: I Need Practice Tips [Re: Leon Harrell]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1651
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By: Leon Harrell
Separate hands, write in chords or roman numerals, write in counting, make notes to yourself, and use colored pencils to highlight and draw attention to things you are making mistakes on.


Given how much you like to mark up the charts, you might really like the MuseScore notation processing program. I write all over my charts, and when they get to be a big mess, I go back to MuseScore, put in the changes, and print a fresh one to continue marking up. It's a free open source program, you can get it from:

www.musescore.org
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2230617 - 02/12/14 08:38 PM Re: I Need Practice Tips [Re: Cristian88]
Cristian88 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/14
Posts: 25
Thanks everyone

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#2230705 - 02/12/14 10:41 PM Re: I Need Practice Tips [Re: Cristian88]
hreichgott Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/13
Posts: 1279
Loc: western MA, USA
The right pattern is the one that works for you. You want to have as much of your practice time spent happy and productive as possible. If you find yourself fatigued or bored or not making progress (or frittering away too much time on breaks) then make some adjustments.

I am the sort of person who does not switch tasks easily. If I am working on something and someone interrupts me, the last 5-20 minutes of work will be completely gone from my brain, and I might not even remember what I was trying to do when I get back to the piano. Taking breaks doesn't work for me at all.

But with problem-solving at the piano, I find it boring to work in one way for very long without results. So if a passage still has the same problem after 3ish repetitions I'll try working on it in a different way. That sort of variety helps me keep making improvements and that means I don't get bored.

It's a great idea to play both assigned and personal choice material. If the pieces aren't too long then play some of each every day!
_________________________
Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com
Working on: Schumann/Kinderszenen
Daily 16th notes: Chopin Op. 10 no. 2, Pischna
I love Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and new music

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#2230733 - 02/13/14 12:07 AM Re: I Need Practice Tips [Re: Cristian88]
ShannonG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/14
Posts: 136
Loc: Canada
I find it helpful to remember that I am playing for love of music, not training for a career as a professional musician. I sit and play a song from my (very limited) repertoire whenever I get a moment. Setting timers and endless drilling sucks all the fun out of it. If you get your butt in front of your piano and play every day you can't help but improve. For instance, I really wanted to learn Someone Like You by Adele. It may not be scales, but learning that song improved my fingering immensely.
I made a list of songs I want to learn and when I'm ready for a new piece I usually use musicnotes.com to find sheet music at my level. Faber also makes a whole series of music books, broken down by level and musical genre. I've found some gems in the Rock n Roll and Jazz and Blues books.
Life is too short to play songs you hate!
_________________________
How did I end up with 3 pianos? Starting to think I may need a 12 step program...

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#2230846 - 02/13/14 07:22 AM Re: I Need Practice Tips [Re: Cristian88]
RonDrotos Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/13
Posts: 82
Loc: New York City
I agree with the advice given about slowing down, and enjoying each step on the way. I would just add the suggestion to pick one or two pieces to keep coming back to, even after you've learned them. Choose ones that you really like, and keep them in your fingers, and possibly memorize them. At the same time, continue with the others in your book.
BTW, I don't know the Faber Adult series, but I've taught using the Faber books for kids. The kids books get REALLY good from Level 2B through 3B. Lots of fun pieces from all styles, including jazz and classical, folk and even a little rock. Sometimes 'adult' books are a little dry and also move too fast, but like I said, I haven't seen the Faber adult series so I don't know.
Above all, don't give up. In my experience, most adults give up after a time. Their schedule gets busy, they go 2 months without practicing, they don't progress fast enough, etc. Whatever happens with your life or outlook, just take a deep breath and come back to the piano, even if you don't feel like you've make much progress. The people I've seen who simply enjoy playing music for it's own sake are (ironically) the ones who progress the most.
Good luck!
_________________________
Ron Drotos
rondrotos@keyboardimprov.com

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