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#2234002 - 02/19/14 12:47 AM "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage"
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
There was a link in another thread I found fascinating, and perhaps meriting discussion on its own:

Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage by Older Adult Novice Piano Students

One could, I suppose, snark over the results, but I think what's really happening is a normal bias, in which the learner is much more consciously aware, and recording memories more vividly, when they are purposefully implementing new strategies. And conversely, they are least aware and barely creating memory traces during those times in which they are practicing mindlessly or habitually.

And over here we have an interesting thread about focused practice in which a number of us ruefully admit how hard it can be to implement optimal practice strategies as regularly as we might hope to. I am among those who have resorted to decorating practice areas with reminders to practice more mindfully (in my case inspirational quotes :P ... maybe the fancy fonts obfuscated the messages...).

In a similar vein, this article from the Bulletproof Musician has a great description of mindless vs. deliberate and focused practice.

I'm not quite sure I know quite what I'm looking for here, but some of the questions I'm curious about are:
  • What do you do to keep yourself in optimal learning mode?
  • What does it feel like when you slip back into nonproductive habits?
  • What is it like when you snap back into aware mode? What brings you back?
What generally brings me back is tension hunting, or how interesting it can be to explore the ergonomics of posture and weight bearing. I will realize that I'm attempting something (generally unsuccessfully) in a clenched-up way. It gets so frustrating or uncomfortable that it breaks through my obsessive determination, and I realize I need to optimize somehow.

Another big factor is simply writing down/typing out specifically what I'm trying to do, at the time when I'm about to embark on doing it. And setting a time limit for it. Weirdly, I can be much better about remembering to do this with real-life tasks, than I am within my musical practice.
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#2234015 - 02/19/14 01:45 AM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: tangleweeds]
Cristian88 Offline
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Registered: 01/27/14
Posts: 23
I need to read over this one of these days, my practice sessions aren't optimal

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#2234024 - 02/19/14 02:10 AM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: tangleweeds]
kolorkeys Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/02/10
Posts: 10
Loc: India
This is still new to me - the concept that repetitive practice doesn't bring good results. My teacher is kind enough to reiterate it whenever I seem to be mindlessly practicing again. As far as I can, I attempt to define the purpose of my practice session each and every time I go to my piano. Am I working on the melody lines? Am I streamlining the technique? And so on. I think it's very important to have a clear goal in mind for every practice session, and for every week of practice.

The first indicator that I'm not being productive is that I'm 'performing'. If I play through a piece at performance tempo during a practice session I know that I've lost the thread. Another really, really good indicator is fatigue and tension. It's very hard to tense up or clench when you're deliberately practicing, however advanced the piece may be.

On the other hand, I get mentally tired very easily during practice. Even one hour of good, productive practice time can have me completely worn out with my hands just starting to feel exercised. When my session length thus reduces, I break it into two or more little sessions during the day.

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
  • What is it like when you snap back into aware mode? What brings you back?
What generally brings me back is tension hunting, or how interesting it can be to explore the ergonomics of posture and weight bearing. I will realize that I'm attempting something (generally unsuccessfully) in a clenched-up way. It gets so frustrating or uncomfortable that it breaks through my obsessive determination, and I realize I need to optimize somehow.


I have had very similar experiences. Posture and ergonomics frequently bring me back, too. If I'm too thick to notice the other indicators I mentioned, then sooner or later I will need to change something in my posture, and the process will reveal the truckload of flaws in my music, whereupon I will be back to real practice again.

I don't know about time limits. Occasionally I set a minimum time, but that's it. They're probably useful further down the road to good playing, but at the moment I don't mind losing track of time on the bench. Not that I spend very long, either.

I'm curious to hear what other people experience too. As I said, I'm very new to serious practice.

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#2234029 - 02/19/14 02:31 AM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: tangleweeds]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5277
Loc: Philadelphia
Quote:
What do you do to keep yourself in optimal learning mode?

For me, it's a choice. I enjoy it. Sometimes, I use music to blow off steam. When I'm doing that, I don't learn anything new. But if I'm learning, I'm learning. I've just been doing it that way my whole life.

Quote:
What does it feel like when you slip back into nonproductive habits?

If I'm trying to avoid them, I stop. I believe in the idea that, between action and reaction, there's a choice. I try to get in the middle of that choosing process as often as possible.

Quote:
What is it like when you snap back into aware mode? What brings you back?

Don't know what's it's like to be "out of aware mode", so I can't say what it's like to 'snap back'. I'm always aware. Whether that means I make the right choice is a different story, but I at least am aware that I've made a choice, even if I choose to be nonproductive in that moment. What brings me back is the choice to be productive. wink
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#2234039 - 02/19/14 02:56 AM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: tangleweeds]
sinophilia Offline

Gold Supporter until Sept. 05 2014


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 941
Loc: Italy
Thank you for the link to that paper tangleweeds, how interesting!

My non productive habit is to simply start playing through old pieces instead of studying my current ones slowly, carefully and in sections. But that has to be done too once in a while, especially since I'm very bad at performing, playing without stopping or hesitating, etc.

What keeps me on track is to have a very clear schedule. I have to know that it's flexible and I can change things if I feel like it - because I need my freedom wink - but if I don't know what I'm supposed to do beforehand I tend to get lost. It helped me a lot to add to my practice some books of basic and very progressive exercises and studies. I keep in mind that practicing real music is more important, but reading 2-3 pages of simple technical studies every day is a great motivator, as I need to see a clear progress.
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#2234052 - 02/19/14 04:25 AM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: tangleweeds]
mabraman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/12
Posts: 321
Loc: Valencia, Spain
Great thread!
Well, I'm one of those who started a thread about deliberate practice, which is somehow new to me.
Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
Weirdly, I can be much better about remembering to do this with real-life tasks, than I am within my musical practice.


That's it. It happens to me too, but I'm even worse than you because, in fact, I've translated over one hundred pages of that stuff into spanish and am trying to organize them, but so far...gee, how hard it is to change! When you stop and think of clever ways to solve some practice problems, you realize they all fit into some of well known ways to study.
I recall having read an explanation of why we can't do the same when learning music (I mean, why it is so difficult)in bulletproofmusician's blog, but I can´t find it now (If someone could I'd appreciate it very much).
Most clever ways to practice are counter-intuitive, so you have to spend a long time re-educating yourself until you change your learning style.
It's like science: we all like it and know how it works (do we?)but we live our lives non-scientifically, we are always fighting our irrationlism. And, every day, we forget/remember/forget etc that this is how we are.
I guess there are at least three ways to explain why this happens when we sit at the piano:
-Our teacher's not teaching us to practice cleverly, it is just something not expected from us (my case, and surely my teacher's case, and so on backwards).
-Clever practice is not really so well known by people, generally speaking (and so isn't science). Reading a newspaper should be enough to prove this.
-The harder a piece is to play, the more cleverly we should approach to it, but...first we need to deeply admit we can't play a s++t in a row. I mean, all of us, when trying to play through an entire piece during a practice session, are fooling ourselves, secretly expecting that our talent (real or imagined) will do the job. Usually it doesn´t, but we keep wanting it to happen, day by day.
Until that moment when you are humble enough, smart enough to admit that your (our) only talent, the only thing that gave you results in the past was...clever and hard work, fifty-fifty.


Edited by mabraman (02/19/14 04:38 AM)
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#2234102 - 02/19/14 08:41 AM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: mabraman]
newbert Offline
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Registered: 01/02/13
Posts: 285
Loc: Upstate New York, USA
I have not read the links provided in the opening post of this thread, but I've read thru the thread - and I'm a bit confused. I know that practicing entails specific exercises and focusing on specific (sometimes bite-size) portions of pieces that you are learning. But a number of posts refer to playing thru the entire piece as being a no-no.

But, there must come a time at some point when you play thru (or attempt to play thru) an entire piece, right? So, when do you reach that point? I don't perform in front of others and play piano strictly for my own enjoyment - so playing entire pieces is sort of the point, isn't it?
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#2234163 - 02/19/14 10:38 AM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: tangleweeds]
mabraman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/12
Posts: 321
Loc: Valencia, Spain
Yes, playing through is one technique too, in fact is the only way to test if the work is good or not. What is a no-no is to charge the most of your practice time on that side.It's not the proper way to work.
There is a "work" part and a "run and test" one. And then, the performance (which has to be tested too, just ...performing in front of someone a few times).
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#2234183 - 02/19/14 11:04 AM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: newbert]
barbaram Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/06/13
Posts: 76
Originally Posted By: newbert
But, there must come a time at some point when you play thru (or attempt to play thru) an entire piece, right? So, when do you reach that point? I don't perform in front of others and play piano strictly for my own enjoyment - so playing entire pieces is sort of the point, isn't it?


I agree with you. I think this discussion is in a context that would draw a clear distinction between performance, playing for pleasure, and practice.

Playing for pleasure is the reason you play (and me too), but if your goal when you sit at the piano is to work on improving a piece, your approach should be different than if your intention is to play for your own enjoyment (in that particular session).

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#2234184 - 02/19/14 11:06 AM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: newbert]
ShannonG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/14
Posts: 135
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: newbert
I have not read the links provided in the opening post of this thread, but I've read thru the thread - and I'm a bit confused. I know that practicing entails specific exercises and focusing on specific (sometimes bite-size) portions of pieces that you are learning. But a number of posts refer to playing thru the entire piece as being a no-no.

But, there must come a time at some point when you play thru (or attempt to play thru) an entire piece, right? So, when do you reach that point? I don't perform in front of others and play piano strictly for my own enjoyment - so playing entire pieces is sort of the point, isn't it?


+1
I think my bohemian personality prevents me from analysing my practice time in any detail. I sit, I play, I attend to everyday life, I sit, I play....
The only 'rule' I have is that I have to run through all my songs since it only takes about two days before they start to suffer. I don't really play classical music either and there are fewer rules to the genres I favor.
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#2234218 - 02/19/14 12:24 PM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: tangleweeds]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2309
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
I have a list of things to do each day. I struggle to get them all done in a reasonable time and my time at the piano is limited. The list makes it easier to get on with the task and stop when it's done and move onto the next one.

Piano playing involves many different skills and isolating as many of them as I reasonably can every day is working for me. I include a memorised piece for playing through near the end of my routine but for the pieces I'm learning it's mostly at my desk away from the piano that I go through a whole piece in one go.

Since I've had a laser printer it's quite common for me to only have a few printed sheets on the piano of just the measures I'm working on that week. This is becoming a useful tool for maintaining focus and makes it easier to 'read' instead of just knowing roughly where I am.

Originally Posted By: newbert
...playing entire pieces is sort of the point, isn't it?
Not until you CAN play the pieces! Playing through while learning is one of the biggest causes of errors and longest delays in achievement.

Piano playing is a bit like boxing. The time in the ring is a very small part of the life of a boxer. The "purse" is won in the ring, but it's earned on the road, with the jump-rope, the speedball, the sand bag, the sparring partner, the weights room, the coaching sessions, the diet, ...



Edited by zrtf90 (02/19/14 12:46 PM)
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#2235775 - 02/22/14 01:41 AM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: tangleweeds]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
Here's another pair of related links that brings up something similar to my mind:

Why the Progress You Make in the Practice Room Seems to Disappear Overnight
The Benefits of Interleaving Practice

Here we have some interesting research, which looks like it might well translate to piano. And I read it, and my first responses are (simultaneously) 1) "Fascinating..." & 2) "No. I'm sorry, but no. That sounds supremely irritating. I play music to make myself happy."

If you watch the video, you will see that the research subjects' subjective experience was that the "blocked" practice was more effective (reading way too deep between the lines, i suspect their response to the interleaved practice was similar to my gut response => mad bah cursing )

But I can see a number of ways in which this could make a lot of sense. There's plenty of musical snippets I can repeat by themselves, but which I can't string together consistently on the fly. At least for me, a big problem landing on my feet, poised to bring to mind the next scenario, having just juggled away the previous crisis.

And although my initial gut response was 'That sounds sooooo irritating...", I did find myself trying out the interleaving in my next practice. Yes, it was frustrating, but only because it was making me use my brain (which would have preferred to conserve fuel. Thrifty brain).

So I might try observing how much I can get myself to implement this new practice strategy, versus how much time it *feels* like I'm doing something new and uncomfortable.
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#2235804 - 02/22/14 03:41 AM Interleaved practice [Re: tangleweeds]
kolorkeys Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/02/10
Posts: 10
Loc: India
Tangleweeds,

I can't thank you enough for the Bulletproof Musician article on interleaved practice. I've saved the video for later, but I think the article will be enough. It seems to explain the diminishing returns of practice I've observed as time goes by. Or to put it another way, lack of progress in polishing a piece that has already been learned to a good degree. I have a gut feeling that randomizing practice would help me in the later stages of learning. Definitely something I'm going to try soon.


Edited by kolorkeys (02/22/14 03:42 AM)

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#2235808 - 02/22/14 03:57 AM Re: Interleaved practice [Re: tangleweeds]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3437
Loc: Northern England.
I`ve just read through this lot. Now I`ve no time to practice . . . . Dammit!!
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#2235897 - 02/22/14 10:44 AM Re: Interleaved practice [Re: peterws]
Sand Tiger Offline
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Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 990
Loc: Southern California
The interleaving is a new wrinkle. As for the baseball analogy, I don't think it applies. Pitches in a game are going to vary, musical passages stay the same. So of course a baseball player that sees 15 of the same kind of pitch, isn't likely to do well in a live game where that pattern is never repeated.

The 3 minute blocks also brings in more organization for the musician. Graham Fitch has suggested very small blocks of music, a single measure plus one note, and doing it three times correctly (not the 5 to 10 that I read other places). Perhaps this is the road to go for these tiny blocks of time. The smaller passages and three times will likely result in short blocks without having to measure the time.

I would imagine that less energy spent on measuring time means more potential energy for the music. Doing the three times on small blocks then working them into longer blocks may be yet another variation.

For example there are four measures to be learned. Spend 3 minutes on each for approximately 12 minutes. Then go through and spend 3 minutes combining two measures at a time for an additional block. Then a full play through of all four measures to round out to about 30 minutes.

Peterws's post does illustrate a pit that some beginners fall into--spending too much time reading about how to practice and too little practicing. If there were a study about this, it might be revealing, though it would be difficult to organize a reasonable study.

It might be along the lines, one group of beginners is given a method book and basic instructions on how to use it. Group two is given a bunch of Internet resources along with the book. Group one spends a full hour a day working with the method book. The second group divides their time 50/50 on the piano, and half on their Internet resources.

Despite all the hoo-hah on this forum about efficiency, dollars to donuts, that on average the group that focuses on real practice time using average methods vs. reading about it looking for magic, does better. There might a ratio that improves (30% on Internet time), but there is almost also certainly a ratio that fails dramatically (90% on Internet time, like some seem to enjoy).

For those that want to scold me on my lengthy response, I am limited as to practice time due to chronic repetitive stress issues from my time before piano.
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#2235941 - 02/22/14 11:59 AM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: zrtf90]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5440
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Originally Posted By: newbert
...playing entire pieces is sort of the point, isn't it?
Not until you CAN play the pieces! Playing through while learning is one of the biggest causes of errors and longest delays in achievement.

Piano playing is a bit like boxing. The time in the ring is a very small part of the life of a boxer. The "purse" is won in the ring, but it's earned on the road, with the jump-rope, the speedball, the sand bag, the sparring partner, the weights room, the coaching sessions, the diet, ...




Ooo, I like this -

Cathy
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#2235972 - 02/22/14 01:22 PM Re: Interleaved practice [Re: Sand Tiger]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger
Peterws's post does illustrate a pit that some beginners fall into--spending too much time reading about how to practice and too little practicing. If there were a study about this, it might be revealing, though it would be difficult to organize a reasonable study.

It might be along the lines, one group of beginners is given a method book and basic instructions on how to use it. Group two is given a bunch of Internet resources along with the book. Group one spends a full hour a day working with the method book. The second group divides their time 50/50 on the piano, and half on their Internet resources.

Despite all the hoo-hah on this forum about efficiency, dollars to donuts, that on average the group that focuses on real practice time using average methods vs. reading about it looking for magic, does better. There might a ratio that improves (30% on Internet time), but there is almost also certainly a ratio that fails dramatically (90% on Internet time, like some seem to enjoy).

For those that want to scold me on my lengthy response, I am limited as to practice time due to chronic repetitive stress issues from my time before piano.

I think people generally know when they're procrastinating actually doing something by of endlessly researching or talking about it instead. Or at least they have a sinking feeling somewhere... My brother has dubbed this syndrome as "orbiting" an activity as opposed to actually doing it.

I freely admit to using a number of rules and tools to limit my own internet time, and to refocus my attention where I truly want it to go. A couple I've found particularly effective are RescueTime and Vitamin R (I'm on Mac OS X).

But OTOH, I find that a certain amount of time reading and discussing practice strategies helps me to experiment with and employ a wider range of practice activities and areas of focus, to avoid falling into a rut and behaving ever more habitually instead of mindfully.

I have a strong tendency to keep doing whatever work best for my last awesome practice session, in hopes of rekindling the magic... forgetting that each moment only happens once. Counteracting this by exploring different approaches helps me retain the edge of novelty which makes my practice experiences more vivid and memorable.


Edited by tangleweeds (02/22/14 01:27 PM)
Edit Reason: why don't I see this stuff in preview?
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#2235979 - 02/22/14 01:40 PM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: Derulux]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
What does it feel like when you slip back into nonproductive habits?

If I'm trying to avoid them, I stop. I believe in the idea that, between action and reaction, there's a choice. I try to get in the middle of that choosing process as often as possible.

Quote:
What is it like when you snap back into aware mode? What brings you back?

Don't know what's it's like to be "out of aware mode", so I can't say what it's like to 'snap back'. I'm always aware. Whether that means I make the right choice is a different story, but I at least am aware that I've made a choice, even if I choose to be nonproductive in that moment. What brings me back is the choice to be productive. wink

This is totally what I strive for, but I'm so often not there. I get caught up in the immediacy of my present moment experience, and the mental framework I've created around it, and totally miss out on the possibilities I'm overlooking.

From this flawed perspective, I'm always in search of heuristics for bringing my awareness to the greater range of possibilities beyond my suboptimal conditioned responses (e.g. this discussion).
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#2236067 - 02/22/14 04:50 PM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: tangleweeds]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5277
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
What does it feel like when you slip back into nonproductive habits?

If I'm trying to avoid them, I stop. I believe in the idea that, between action and reaction, there's a choice. I try to get in the middle of that choosing process as often as possible.

Quote:
What is it like when you snap back into aware mode? What brings you back?

Don't know what's it's like to be "out of aware mode", so I can't say what it's like to 'snap back'. I'm always aware. Whether that means I make the right choice is a different story, but I at least am aware that I've made a choice, even if I choose to be nonproductive in that moment. What brings me back is the choice to be productive. wink

This is totally what I strive for, but I'm so often not there. I get caught up in the immediacy of my present moment experience, and the mental framework I've created around it, and totally miss out on the possibilities I'm overlooking.

From this flawed perspective, I'm always in search of heuristics for bringing my awareness to the greater range of possibilities beyond my suboptimal conditioned responses (e.g. this discussion).

I could offer things that have worked for me, but if I may, I'd prefer to suggest some excellent reading. Stephen Covey's "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People".

A friend of mine suggested it to me in this way: "He says all the things you've been saying, but he says it better." smile
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#2236597 - 02/23/14 11:27 PM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: zrtf90]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Since I've had a laser printer it's quite common for me to only have a few printed sheets on the piano of just the measures I'm working on that week. This is becoming a useful tool for maintaining focus and makes it easier to 'read' instead of just knowing roughly where I am.


So what you're saying is that of the sheets of music you have at your piano, the whole page but the measures on which you plan on working is blank? If so, that's very clever and - if nothing else - sounds like it could make an excellent teaching tool.

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#2236647 - 02/24/14 05:06 AM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: tangleweeds]
mabraman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/12
Posts: 321
Loc: Valencia, Spain
"Despite all the hoo-hah on this forum about efficiency, dollars to donuts, that on average the group that focuses on real practice time using average methods vs. reading about it looking for magic, does better. There might a ratio that improves (30% on Internet time), but there is almost also certainly a ratio that fails dramatically (90% on Internet time, like some seem to enjoy)"
SandTiger, that's one of those so-called common sense truths that are lies, or missconceptions.
My experience is that a well informed student is able to take waaaaaaaay more clever choices than those practicing acritically. What I've learn during a year reading abot practice strategies is the result of decades of teachers' and concertists work,and psychologists or researchers.
I have no problem spending some months just reading and collecting my thoughts, setting goals and strategies, etc.
So what if I run out of time to actually play? I'm still learning! Music is not just being able to play something, for g+d sake. I spent my first whole year of lessons practicing the wrong way. I worked really hard and for the first time in my life, it wasn't enough. I knew I was mssing something.
By the way, I'm the one adult progressing faster in my school, even faster that most younger ones. I'm the only one, too, "wasting time" reading. They just play and play...
And it's not a magical receipt that we search, but a clever way to live, instead. 1300cc. of brain deserve it!


Edited by mabraman (02/24/14 05:12 AM)
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#2236717 - 02/24/14 10:13 AM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: mabraman]
Sand Tiger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 990
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: mabraman
"Despite all the hoo-hah on this forum about efficiency, dollars to donuts, that on average the group that focuses on real practice time using average methods vs. reading about it looking for magic, does better. There might a ratio that improves (30% on Internet time), but there is almost also certainly a ratio that fails dramatically (90% on Internet time, like some seem to enjoy)"
SandTiger, that's one of those so-called common sense truths that are lies, ...

By the way, I'm the one adult progressing faster in my school, even faster that most younger ones. I'm the only one, too, "wasting time" reading. They just play and play...
And it's not a magical receipt that we search, but a clever way to live, instead. 1300cc. of brain deserve it!


Congrats on your progress. I appreciate the considerable work that went into your list.

Everyone is different. Perhaps you are the exceptional case.

I still theorize (unproven by studies) that the average person will do far better with more practice time, less internet time. A little Internet time might be a good thing. A lot, probably a bad thing. After a certain amount of internet time, the advice starts to conflict and confuse.

There are very good, experienced teachers that line up on opposite sides of the fence on certain issues. I am not one to argue, however, I tend to see this infatuation with what I see as obsessive research as a bad thing. It takes away from valuable practice time.

As I pointed out, the Wallick paper recommends fewer pieces. Some other beginner took the opposite advice and is going to 40 pieces a year. It is not as Zrtf90 suggests, based on needs or length of practice or pace of learning. It is a totally different school of teaching. Both are valid, both are used by experienced teachers at various levels.

Another example is on repetitions, I pointed out the suggestion of three repetitions, which was said to be "wrong" by one of the most experienced forum members. As I low level beginner, I have no business arguing. If Zrtf90 wants to say that Graham Fitch plus some teacher that wrote an academic paper on the subject are "wrong" so be it. What I am to conclude as a beginner when some reputable sources say to up the reps to 20, while some others say reduce to 3? It goes around in circles.

I want to take the middle road and be done with it. I feel no need to research the reps any more. Isolate passages and five to ten are what most suggest. That and slow down, and do different kinds of practice (new pieces, old pieces, technique, musicality) are 80% of what beginners need to know about practice. The rest is mostly extra, perhaps finer points, perhaps just extra. Many can be shown these basic foundations in one hour, not five months.

It is obvious that you and others enjoy doing the Internet research, perhaps even more than the actual piano practice. I may be totally off base, but I wouldn't be surprised if redoubling your efforts at research brings you little in additional benefit.

I am a low level beginner. So perhaps I know-nothing. Perhaps I am not at a level where some of these things even apply. However, when listening to the recital, there are pianists I admire. As far as I know, none of them are heavy into Internet research. Many appear to be heavy into actual piano practice time using good, but no exceptional methods. I would suggest most beginners do the same, more bench time, less Internet time.

Take the philosophy that a little Internet time can go a long way, if done efficiently. What I tend to observe is that more bench time tends to mean more results. I don't perceive it as a lie, unless a person is using poor methods. Again, the basics of good practice can be taught in a short time. That might include slowing down, isolating passages, doing deliberate, mindful practice, and different kinds of practice.

I see more than a few beginners that dive whole hog into research. I perceive little for their efforts except huge outlays of time that often comes full circle into conflicting advice as the two examples point out (more pieces vs. fewer pieces, more reps vs. fewer reps).

Again, everyone is different. I doubt you or any of the others that spend countless hours on the Internet will change your time allocations based on what I write. However, other beginners reading along might avoid what I see as a pit of searching for better methods, instead of applying some pretty good methods consistently and spending that time and energy on actual practice. As almost always, a balanced approach is where most belong. If in doubt, I suggest the balance leans towards bench time.

Again, thank you for your comments and the considerable time that went into your list. Good luck on your piano journey.
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#2236768 - 02/24/14 12:08 PM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: tangleweeds]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5277
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: SandTiger
I still theorize (unproven by studies) that the average person will do far better with more practice time, less internet time. A little Internet time might be a good thing. A lot, probably a bad thing. After a certain amount of internet time, the advice starts to conflict and confuse.

I think the practitioner needs to find a healthy balance. One first needs to learn to practice effectively before their practice will be as effective as they would like it to be. So, taking some time to invest in learning other strategies, peeling back the layers, and discovering what does/does not work for you is time well-spent. However, if your fingers are never on the keys, that's an entirely different problem.
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#2236781 - 02/24/14 12:37 PM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: tangleweeds]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2309
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger
Everyone is different. Perhaps you are the exceptional case.
If we're all different aren't we all exceptional cases? smile

Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger
As I pointed out, the Wallick paper recommends fewer pieces. Some other beginner took the opposite advice and is going to 40 pieces a year. It is not as Zrtf90 suggests, based on needs or length of practice or pace of learning. It is a totally different school of teaching. Both are valid, both are used by experienced teachers at various levels.
I was trying to say suggest that doing fewer pieces in poor advice to the guy that's been working on one piece for six months and doing forty pieces a year is poor advice to some doing Alfred's at the rate of two pieces per week.

I don't know where in the Wallick paper it suggests fewer pieces. Is it fewer pieces per day or fewer pieces per year? And fewer than what? What if you're only doing one piece a day and you've been working on it for months? Should you still do fewer?

Pieces per day and pieces per year are two distinct strategies, one macro and one micro, that would not interfere with each other. The advice to do more pieces, like forty pieces a year, is not directed at people doing a new piece every week. It is offered (or it should be taken) as an alternative way of working for people who aren't making sufficient progress doing the same two or three pieces for many months.

Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger
Another example is on repetitions, I pointed out the suggestion of three repetitions, which was said to be "wrong" by one of the most experienced forum members. As I low level beginner, I have no business arguing. If Zrtf90 wants to say that Graham Fitch plus some teacher that wrote an academic paper on the subject are "wrong" so be it.
You said something along the lines of repetitions for three minutes, which I said looked wrong. Not that three repetitions are wrong but counting reps in minutes looked wrong! I can't find my post - was it another thread? I wasn't trying to label anything or anyone as right or wrong. smile

Things like a fixed number of reps, whether two or three or a higher number like 10 or 20, need to be tried out. But some beginners may do countless reps until they get it or give up. Some just keep doing play-throughs (and call that repetition!). They may do well just to find out that repetition is a systematic practise tool not a relentless or boring banging-your-head-against a wall activity. When they find two people taking two different sides at least then they know that there are two sides!

Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger
It is obvious that you and others enjoy doing the Internet research, perhaps even more than the actual piano practice. I may be totally off base, but I wouldn't be surprised if redoubling your efforts at research brings you little in additional benefit.
If I had an extra hour per day I would not use it for extra piano practise. I don't get any better from extra time. I've tried. If I spend longer on each piece I tire earlier and start making mistakes sooner. If I do more pieces I retain less of them over the week. My internet research takes no time away from my piano. I would purport that the average beginner doing more than 60 mins a day at the piano in the first year is doing more harm than good and might be better off with more internet research in the early months.

I suspect much of the research is done at the beginning and mostly by those that know the value of knowledge and how much time it can save in the long run. I think, along with mabramam, that research is not looking for quick fixes or magic bullets. Once you start seeing the same information wherever you go you get the idea that you've got pretty much all that's worth finding. These ideas taken together do need to be tried and tested on your own practise and performance. Much time and effort can be saved, or faster progress achieved, by looking first and doing later!

I also suspect that you'd be surprised at how much research can be done in very little time. Ask a competent law student!
_________________________
Richard

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#2236804 - 02/24/14 02:01 PM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: tangleweeds]
TheodorN Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 1179
Loc: Helsingborg, Sweden
Maybe I'm off topic or not sure what the main topic is, but glancing over comments, inspired me to check an Excel file, I had made a few weeks (or months?) back. I updated it just now, added three new pieces, the three last in the list, and put in how much I had one. This is how it looks now.

Name of piece......................How practised.........................Status

Hallelujah.............................Sheet music or notation progr........Not begun
An Die Schöne Blaue Donau..Sheet music or notation progr........Not begun
Prelude in C major................Sheet music or notation progr........Working on
Moonlight Sonata.................Sheet music or notation progr........Not begun
Für Elise................................Sheet music or notation progr........Not begun
Stand By Me.........................Sheet music or notation progr........Not begun
Imagine................................Sheet music or notation progr........Working on
And So It Goes......................Sheet music or notation progr........Not begun
What a Friend We Have in Jesus...Sheet music or notation progr........Finished

Edit34: I wish we were able to post tables in comments.


Edited by TheodorN (02/24/14 02:15 PM)
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#2236828 - 02/24/14 02:44 PM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: tangleweeds]
Stubbie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 371
Loc: Midwest USA
The hardest thing with practice strategies, in my opinion, is the discipline needed to keep going with them. One thing that helps me keep on task is near constant re-enforcement of practice strategies, and these I get on the internet (not from my teacher). The time I've spent reading has been time well spent, for me. It doesn't eat into my practice time.

As for conflicting advice on how to practice, well, it is what it is. It's the same with diet and nutrition advice; just wait until the next study comes out if you don't like the results of the most recent one. smile It's not that people aren't sincerely trying to come up with practice or diet strategies, it's that there's just too much human variation and not enough time and money to study everyone, for all time. So you read widely, and make your choices.
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#2236858 - 02/24/14 03:34 PM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: Sand Tiger]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11548
Loc: Canada
My personal take on this (history):

I started off with violin lessons as an adult. They went along the RCM system, so there was a program of sorts. At home I did what I was assigned in some kind of manner. There was no practice method. I did my scales, arpeggios, and worked through my pieces somehow. At some point at a more advanced level I got stuck, and the sticking point seemed to come from technique. I experimented out of necessity. I'd step away from the piece, practise the technique separately. When I went back to the piece it came together much faster in terms of the difficult spot.

At that point I was still working on a piece, starting at the beginning in largish sections, and side-tracking for a difficulty, but going along the piece.

Next was hearing from an advanced student who worked in what now I'd call "layers". First get the right notes, and in tune - add dynamics and such once that is solid - be prepared to return to a simpler layer if it falls apart. This was quite different already from what I had done first. I progressed faster, and it sounded better.

Finally, I got a piece that repeated the same themes in different keys. I always got stuck on say "measure 5" because physically I couldn't handle those notes. I stayed stuck for over a month. One day I got desperate, and got really "radical". I photocopied the piece and marked it up. This "measure 5" got circled, and every measure that had the same thing in a different key got circled. I worked only on that measure, figuring out how to get it to work. Maybe an hour. Then I practised all the other measures I had circled that did the same thing. Then I played the two easy notes before it - into that measure - and the two easy notes afterward. Then I took other measures by order of difficulty and did the same thing.

I thought I was being really radical. Years later my piano teacher taught the same thing. I had invented chunking, and some things that go along with it.
------------------
The point? I had spent several years practising in a relatively ineffective manner, including focusing on the wrong thing. I found strategies by trial and error and this took a long time. I didn't even know that there was such a thing as strategy.

So if someone who is starting out, or maybe even has been playing for a number of years, can discover that there is such a thing, that can be a huge leap forward. That said, I don't believe in strict formulas. Do what works, and make it suit the occasion. smile

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#2236873 - 02/24/14 04:01 PM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: tangleweeds]
mabraman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/12
Posts: 321
Loc: Valencia, Spain
That's it, Richard and Stubbie.
Hey Sand Tiger, you know, I agree with you on most things you said before. There has to be a balance between your research time and practice, be that research via internet or paper. What some may consider an obsession, I see as fascination on a subject. Over 25 years ago I was at the University, studying psichology. I never ended it, but I'm still interested on such things. True that a quick glance at a forum may leave you well served of basic strategies. But, as you pointed, some of the advices are contradictory. They shouldn't! If anything is based upon research, it has to be coherent.
See the number of reps: what matters is not how many, but the concept in it. There is a certain, short number of reps. that has been proven to be best option. Why? Because from a given number on, it doesn't make profit. In fact, it could be detrimental.
Same with total practice time and session time: average maximum focus time is near 20 minutes/one hour. Pauses are mandatory, and I mean frequent pauses.
More than four hours a day...a waste of time for most of us...and I mean four actual hours, full focused. Anyway, who has so much free time here?
I agree also that my compilation sounds obsessive. It could seem accurate, too, it's a matter of taste.
I still find this stuff fascinating, so I'll probably keep on reading and traslating books and papers. There was nothing in the net in spanish, I mean nothing so detailed, structured and...for free. We just have a few academic papers, pay-per-view. I have fun with it and, you were true, more fun than playing, these days. Hope this will change soon.
But don't you put it that simple, when it isn't IMO. See the papers: students long for advice, so it seems teachers are not giving it properly, generally speaking;students believe they use estrategies more than they actually do;teachers believe they give enough advice on it, but their pupils don't see it this way; when students are given advice on how to practice, tend to forget it and fall into mindless mode again and again...
Thanks sincerely for your thoughts, and please forgive my bad english. Sometimes I missunderstand things.
_________________________
Learning piano from scratch since September, 2012.
Kawai ES7.

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#2236887 - 02/24/14 04:24 PM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: tangleweeds]
woodog Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 375
Loc: Bowling Green, KY
It is by reading that I can keep company with greatness.

One of the beautiful qualities of the internet is the ability to recognize common threads among the best of the best.

And although the fingers are the mechanism, it is always the brain that makes the difference.

Feed the brain.

Forrest
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Beethoven Op. 78
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#2237261 - 02/25/14 08:34 AM Re: "Perceived Versus Actual Practice Strategy Usage" [Re: woodog]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2405
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted By: woodog
]
Feed the brain.


Showing my age:

Remember what the dormouse said
Feed you head...


Seriously, I only goof off online research the internet when I am too tired to practice effectively, so the two activities do not really compete for time.
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