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#2264987 - 04/21/14 03:18 PM Beginner-know when to drop an old piece?
alans Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/12
Posts: 76
I am very much a beginner, on Book 3A of Piano Adventures. It takes me sometimes one week to learn a new piece, sometimes three weeks, but not usually more than that. I just don't know when to put an old piece to rest and continue on with new stuff. How do you know when you don't need to review something you've worked on for a while?

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#2264997 - 04/21/14 03:55 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
bittersweetmusique Offline
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Registered: 03/17/09
Posts: 64
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Hi Alans,

Usually the piano teacher will evaluate when you should be able to drop an old piece, once they feel sufficiently satisfied that you've learned the piece properly and expressed it with confidence. If you do not have a piano teacher, I would drop a piece after I self-evaluate myself as playing it sufficiently. It really is up to you unless you're under the guidance of a teacher. Try listening to youtube videos of others playing your pieces to evaluate whether you're on the right track.

For passing my students, usually when I can be confident that the student can perform the piece in front of others confidently.
_________________________
Classically trained (ARCT) piano teacher from Vancouver who aspires to improvise with confidence.

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#2265001 - 04/21/14 04:03 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5121
I'm assuming you haven't got a teacher, otherwise you wouldn't be asking the question....

You have a long way to go, so you should keep moving on, with progressively more challenging pieces, and drop the ones you've finished with. Almost certainly, you'll soon find that as you improve, you can easily play again those pieces you've mastered a few months ago (and left behind), whenever you feel like it, without having to 'practice' them - if you really want to. But chances are, unless there was something specially appealing about those old pieces, you won't be interested in them anymore, because they were just stepping stones towards your goal, whatever they may be.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2265014 - 04/21/14 04:51 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2370
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
If you're regularly moving on to other pieces it's not critical but you shouldn't drop a piece until it's about as good as any other piece you play.

In a method book, such as Piano Adventures, it would be worth reviewing pieces you've finished, maybe run through the previous lessons at a rate of three or four a day on Saturdays and Sundays to make sure you can still play them.

If you can't still play them then you either didn't learn them well enough first time or you learnt them too quickly without absorbing the music - not unreasonable in a method book.

One to three weeks may be sufficient to be able to play them but it's a short time to spend on a piece you intend to keep. Once you get beyond the method books you should be coming across more music that once learnt, you'll want to keep it in your repertoire and perfect it some more. Method book music may not fit the bill but the discipline may be worth it until you find better material. Are you bringing out the melody above the accompaniment? Are you articulating the phrases well, playing each phrase in one 'breath' and leaving space before the next phrase? Are you shaping the phrases dynamically? Are you paying attention to the accents in the bar, strong, weak, medium, weak, etc? Are you reading the whole text and not just the notes?

If you're working, say, three pieces each day, and you're working on two adjacent pieces with a third one from a few lessons back it may be worth dropping the older piece and returning to it later or getting stuck into whatever it is that's holding you back and wrap it up once and for all.

If a piece is dragging, the chances are you skipped lightly over a difficulty instead of fixing it properly at the outset - the curse of those who frequently play through the music they're learning instead of learning it properly first - and this is a good opportunity to really find out what it is that's holding you up.
_________________________
Richard

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#2265019 - 04/21/14 05:04 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
alans Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/12
Posts: 76
Thank-you for your posts, this has given me a lot to think about. Because I am much more advanced on other instruments, I think I have been under the impression that the geography of the instrument is most important and I need to get from point A to point B as quickly as I can and move on. Richard-you have given me a great deal to consider now as I almost never take into account "breathing" or musicality. I just worry about finding my way through the piece. I will try and take all of this into account and slow myself down.

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#2265211 - 04/22/14 08:18 AM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
EM Deeka Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/08/13
Posts: 151
Originally Posted By: alans
I am very much a beginner, on Book 3A of Piano Adventures. It takes me sometimes one week to learn a new piece, sometimes three weeks, but not usually more than that. I just don't know when to put an old piece to rest and continue on with new stuff. How do you know when you don't need to review something you've worked on for a while?


Piano Adventures and other methods also sell/provide recordings associated with their method books as MIDI files, audio CDs or both. These can be very useful if you are self-teaching.


Edited by EM Deeka (04/22/14 08:19 AM)

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#2265260 - 04/22/14 11:19 AM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
keystring Online   content
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I'd like to take a different position than the ones posted so far.

If you were taking lessons from a good teacher, then that teacher would be trying to bring you into skills. The pieces are your practice field for those skills. Quite a few teachers will stop a piece before it is polished because whatever skill has been reached. If you had such a teacher, the most important thing for you to focus on would be whatever that teacher stresses: relaxed motion, familiarity with they keyboard, or whatever it is. A method book will be stressing particular things in each lesson, and again, that is what you should strive toward. (I think the non-adult book would have more of that?)

If that is so, then I would NOT want to keep at each piece until it is polished. Rather, I would want to see what skills are being taught, and make sure that I get that skill before moving on. In the next piece, I'd want to review the skill to make sure it doesn't fade.

Since you play other instruments and are more advanced in them, you might be able to extrapolate some things being taught through the pieces that they don't mention specifically, and stress them in your learning as well.

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#2265265 - 04/22/14 11:28 AM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11675
Loc: Canada
In regards to playing a piece musically, etc. - being able to do so largely depends on technique, i.e. the physical skills that you have. Technique is built up in stages. Your body builds its coordination in new movements, and this takes time. HOW to do this also plays into it. If you try to force things you are not ready for, you can set yourself up for tension and poor habits.

There are things you can do immediately. Phrasing - i.e. letting the music breathe - is one. Stopping and starting, or pausing, doesn't require any special technique.

That is not so for other things. Take for example the idea of bringing out the melody while keeping the accompaniment soft. Before doing this, you first need to learn how to produce even, controlled sounds through good movement and get that into your body. Next you may learn how to play loud or soft at will either hand, and then do soft or loud in both. Finally, after you have these skills, you are ready to make one hand loud, and one hand soft. The way I was taught, I started with extremes - quite loud in one hand, as quiet as possible in the other. Once that was coordinated, I learned to shade it and be subtle.

So if you have not yet mastered a good even touch - or if you don't really know how to play loud and soft - then it is not time to bring out one voice over the other. You may bring tension into your body, or you may get frustrated. If you had a teacher, he would know when to bring that in.

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#2265533 - 04/22/14 08:47 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
hreichgott Online   content
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Registered: 04/11/13
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Loc: western MA, USA
I think you get the most out of each piece if you polish every one. Not just the main teaching goal, but all aspects of the music. And you develop the skills required to polish a piece, which are important in themselves. That's how I was taught, and that's how I teach, anyway. So much of the learning happens during the polishing stage.
_________________________
Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com
Sounding the depths of small pieces: Beethoven Op. 33
Daily attempts at 16th notes: Chopin Op. 10 no. 4, Pischna
Totally loving Fauré/Barcarolles and Ravel/Tombeau de Couperin
I love Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and new music

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#2265671 - 04/23/14 01:50 AM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
8 Octaves Offline

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Registered: 04/20/14
Posts: 318
Loc: USA
It is very hard to know when to move on. I self-taught a bit before having a teacher, and that's probably one of the first questions in my mind. I end up just winging it since there was no one to tell me otherwise. I would play a piece until I got all the notes and dynamics and could play it back at the tempo as marked, then I would move on. Was I in for a shock when I got a teacher and I had to stay on the same piece for what seemed at the time an eternity compared to my own judgment of "finished". Partly, it's because there are so many unwritten things that I never could possibly know that is in the music other than the written dynamics and the actual notes without a teacher.

So it is hard question to answer maybe even impossible if you don't have a teacher and don't have the frame of mind of what a musician may expect out of any particular piece of music. I would say just do what it feels right until it feels wrong. One thing you should do is record yourself, then listen. Try to learn music that comes with recordings. Compare yours with the teaching recordings. You have to listen really carefully. Not as good as a real teacher, but better than nothing. When you manage to play really close to the teaching recording, move on.
_________________________
La musica non è mai finita, solo abbandonata.
RCM Level 5 | Gurlitt: Sonatina in A minor, op. 214, no. 4

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#2265911 - 04/23/14 03:58 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: hreichgott]
outo Offline
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Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 673
Loc: Finland
I much more like Keystring's approach, but I understand people are different.

My teacher does not expect me to polish pieces we work on before I drop it or put it into rest. I don't even learn every piece in the whole. I could never handle such a requirement, because some of the pieces are not so much to my taste and I would probably get bored and stop playing smile

Polishing every piece would have taken me a lot of time that I feel was used more productively in learning other skills. I think I could have really polished maybe 6-8 pieces in a year, but instead we worked on more than 50 on my first two years, learning something from each one of them. Since most pieces will be forgotten anyway, is it really worth it? And what would be the use of weekly lessons then, because we didn't have any new material for weeks to look into?

Polishing a piece is a skill itself, but I want to reserve practicing it to pieces that I feel are worth it. I mostly do it during the long summer break from lessons. Then again no piece will ever be polished enough if you ask me...There's always something that could be better. I think I am too much a perfectionist for such an approach to work for me.

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#2265929 - 04/23/14 04:36 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
I think everyone might be different, and my own experience may be colored by the fact that when I did have a teacher, lessons were much more structured around marching through pieces than around an articulated set of skills goals.

When I stopped lessons, I felt like I'd been doing a lot of rushing to learn pieces, and doing it in a way that always ended up with at least one "grit your teeth and pray" moment, that would more often than not come out badly.

So I decided that now that I was on my own, I would slow down, go back to the beginning, and learn pieces in a slower and better way. I still don't have a clearly articulated list of skills (I don't know enough to easily generate such a list for myself), so I can't really adopt the model of learning a piece only until I've mastered the skill it's teaching me.

I try to learn whatever I'm learning well, and some pieces present obvious technical challenges that I try to work in with the scraps of technique ideas I can scavenge from the Internet (PW included). That doesn't mean I get everything to a perfect state before dropping it idly and starting another piece in its place. It does mean that I'm trying to play nicely at whatever stage of layered learning I'm at with that piece.

"Nicely" isn't quite the right word. I guess what I mean is, I don't want a piece ever to be in a place, even at the very beginning, when all I can say about it is "well, I can sort of hack through it but I'd have to go back and fix a lot of entrenched problem spots if I wanted to take it to the next layer." There might be aspects I haven't put into the piece yet, but I don't want there to be wrong spots I've left to fester. Hmmmm, I'm not sure that explains it correctly either.

I'll see if I can think of a specific piece and talk about the layers I would use, to see if that better illustrates what I'm trying to say.

The thing that worries me about the idea of rushing through method book pieces (or any other pieces), only learning whatever isolated skill that piece is there to teach, is that I think there should ideally be a gradual improvement of all skills as you proceed, once they've been introduced. So if you get to the end of the method book and are still playing lots of wrong notes, lots of wrong rhythms, with a tense hand and rigid wrists, then it seems to me you would have missed a lot of what would have been good to be working on in each and every piece, even if there was only one piece each for each new note, each new rhythm, and the idea of relaxation, and even if you can get the loud/soft dynamic contrast perfectly on the piece that introduces that, and the staccato/legato on that technique's piece, and so on.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2265930 - 04/23/14 04:38 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Also: what does "polishing a piece" mean?
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2265967 - 04/23/14 05:53 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
hreichgott Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/13
Posts: 1004
Loc: western MA, USA
For me, polishing a piece means getting it to the point where it could be performed and the audience would have a pleasant experience, even if the performance is on a bad day. Definitely no "grit your teeth and pray" moments.

I agree about this only being worth the time for pieces that are worth it, but, I wonder why anyone would ever study music that isn't worth it? There is so much repertoire available for the piano at all levels. No point in learning bad music.

And total agreement about "slower and better" laugh
_________________________
Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com
Sounding the depths of small pieces: Beethoven Op. 33
Daily attempts at 16th notes: Chopin Op. 10 no. 4, Pischna
Totally loving Fauré/Barcarolles and Ravel/Tombeau de Couperin
I love Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and new music

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#2265999 - 04/23/14 06:58 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: hreichgott]
outo Offline
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Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 673
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: hreichgott

I agree about this only being worth the time for pieces that are worth it, but, I wonder why anyone would ever study music that isn't worth it? There is so much repertoire available for the piano at all levels. No point in learning bad music.


I have a bit of a personality problem I guess smile

I have a very distinct taste. Most music that I really like is far too complicated and difficult for me to learn at this stage. I also can get bored easily if a piece doesn't present real challenges anymore and learning the rest of it is just routine. I can work consistently and long on something if I have the inner motivation and really want to make it better, but not if I don't feel any connection to the music. Some pieces I have kept "polishing" for a couple of years actually.

Some pieces I pick because they seem "ok" (meaning I don't really dislike them), but after a while they become a drag. I don't like any other music from the classical era except some advanced pieces by Hummel. I felt I needed to study some classical sonatinas and etudes for the technique, but after some time my dislike grew too much to continue because I got so sick of listening to them. The music is not bad, it's just not for me. The same with Bach (with maybe one exception). Or almost any etudes except Chopin's and Scriabin's... I feel I benefited a lot from studying pieces from Burgmuller op 100, but 2 weeks or so with each one of those was simply all I could take, enough to work through the real challenges of those pieces. If I just grind my teeth and stay with it (I have tried several times) I end up avoiding practice sessions, which is a good warning sign. Normally it's hard to keep me away...

My teacher never put me on method books and that's good because I partly blame the boring stuff in them for me quitting as a child.

I do kind of envy those people who can take any piece and enjoy playing and learning it. Being picky makes life more difficult smile


Edited by outo (04/23/14 07:02 PM)

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#2266005 - 04/23/14 07:19 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: hreichgott]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5121
Originally Posted By: hreichgott


I agree about this only being worth the time for pieces that are worth it, but, I wonder why anyone would ever study music that isn't worth it? There is so much repertoire available for the piano at all levels. No point in learning bad music.

Beginners learn many pieces - easy arrangements of classical tunes etc - from method books for a while before playing 'proper' music (as written by real composers, in their original form).

But even learning something like Beethoven's Minuet in G (WoO 10/2) will take near-beginners many weeks to polish, and it likely still won't be voiced properly as it's difficult enough just to play the figures in thirds smoothly. Is it really worth spending all that time to polish up such a piece when within a few months, the student could probably sight-read it and play it better, with improved technique - if he was allowed to go on to other pieces that keep stretching his skills?

When students get beyond early intermediate standard and are playing pieces that professional pianists won't be ashamed to play in public (like Für Elise grin), then it's worth spending more time to polish up, if the student likes it enough. The worst thing is make a student spend so long working on a piece (no matter how intrinsically good it is) that he gets fed up with it.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2266008 - 04/23/14 07:25 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: hreichgott]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11675
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: hreichgott
For me, polishing a piece means getting it to the point where it could be performed and the audience would have a pleasant experience, even if the performance is on a bad day.

A practical question, since you teach. So you have a student who is a beginner and only has the coordination to play notes evenly - maybe is able to play loud and soft with both hands doing the same thing. So do you get the student to play one voice loud and the other soft before the student has that coordination? Or do you have the student polish the piece up to that student's level of skills at that time? And is the purpose of teaching that of producing pieces, or of developing skills? Do you yourself have ideas on that, maybe a matter of balance?

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#2266028 - 04/23/14 07:52 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: PianoStudent88]
earlofmar Online   content
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Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1586
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Also: what does "polishing a piece" mean?


The time and effort required to be put into a piece after I think it's finished.
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXV-6-XXX

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#2266114 - 04/23/14 09:34 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
hreichgott Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/13
Posts: 1004
Loc: western MA, USA
earlofmar: very funny laugh

bennevis and keystring: I do think it is worth spending the time to play pieces well at all levels. One basic goal of Suzuki teaching is for the students to produce beautiful, musical pieces that they can feel proud performing for others. Sound quality goes right along with note learning. And the sound quality is related to difficulty. I wouldn't give that Beethoven Minuet to a near beginner -- too many musical issues plus lots of parallel thirds, just as you say. You'd never get a beautiful performance of that from a near beginner. A better introduction to parallel thirds would be a piece that either only has a couple of them, or has a lot of them in very predictable patterns where it is easy to make logical fingering and there isn't too much 4545 or other physical issues.

Someone who is having trouble playing the hands at different volume levels should absolutely stick with pieces that have a single note melody against very simple accompaniment, until that skill is securely learned and the single note melody sings out. That's definitely something that needs to be learned before moving on to true two voice polyphony like the Anna Magdalena Bach minuets. If students are skipped on to more advanced material before easier material can be played beautifully, I think it handicaps later learning.

Even minus the Suzuki philosophy, I guess I'd rather have a studio full of students playing easier pieces beautifully than full of students playing Fuer Elise badly.

Also, earlier in my teaching life I was more tolerant of note problems (never of musical problems!) than I am now, and I notice that the students who started with me during that time now struggle mightily for accuracy in their intermediate pieces. I really think it's best to learn well to start with.
_________________________
Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com
Sounding the depths of small pieces: Beethoven Op. 33
Daily attempts at 16th notes: Chopin Op. 10 no. 4, Pischna
Totally loving Fauré/Barcarolles and Ravel/Tombeau de Couperin
I love Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and new music

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#2266256 - 04/24/14 03:35 AM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: hreichgott]
outo Offline
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Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 673
Loc: Finland
hreichgott:
It's not so much that I wouldn't try to play any piece beautifully from the start. My teacher doesn't believe in learning the notes first and then add the rest. But I mainly practice phrases and sections. Getting the whole piece together doesn't always happen. Playing from a score is really tedious for my eyes, so polishing a piece for me also requires memorization and that is a most time consuming process for me, no matter how simple the piece is.


Edited by outo (04/24/14 03:37 AM)

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#2266286 - 04/24/14 05:27 AM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
Ataru074 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 320
Loc: Houston, TX
The teacher of my youth always told me that we should know at least 110% of a piece in the hope of performing at 95% when on stage.
Being an impossible target I felt, like many others, constantly unsatisfied of my performances with few rare bliss moments here and there...
That was the time before my injury and when I was still on route to try to be a professional.... and was the right attitude.
Many years later that idea is still inside me, but the time to pursue it is gone and makes me feel very inadequate to perform any pieces because I always hear or feel a blemish, but at the same time... I do hear the blemishes.

Let's divide the pieces in two categories:
1) performance pieces
2) etudes ( not "performance etudes", but can include parts or section of performance pieces where we need to develop a certain technical facility, for example... mozart k545 first movement to develop facility in scales or a bach suite to develop endurance and good sounding counterpoint )

if it's a performance piece... we should drop it after we did play it correctly way more times than we did play incorrectly. IF it took a month to get it right under the finger... we should practice it at least another month.

If it's an etude, is more tricky, but in general we want to drop it as soon as possible to avoid repetitive stress injuries. For example... exercises with held notes or double sixts scales... incredibly useful, but you can't achieve that freedom in a single session, you will need to go back to it many times, every time improving a little.

one particular case are the chopin and liszt etudes. both have incredibly useful techniques and are performance pieces. for me they are almost impossible to be learn in a single shot and they might distract you for too long. learning one smaller section at the time and than, over time put them together is more doable.
_________________________
===============================================
working on:
Bach: BWV 871
Mozart: Kv397
Beethoven: Op 14 #2
Prokofiev: Op.10
Bartok: Notturno
===============================================

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#2266319 - 04/24/14 08:17 AM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2370
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Polishing includes putting into the music the parts that are not explicitly given in the text but are implied by our tradition and our notation system.

In England in my youth the recorder and singing were compulsory. This teaches familiarity with the treble clef and the greater demands of higher notes than lower. In common time the accents fall strong weak medium weak and our counting should match the basic rhythm of these accents.

It is common for beginners to overlook these fundamentals when first learning a piece in the struggle for getting the right notes with the right fingers. Simply adding back the accents can lift a piece even if only a small amount.

Each phrase has a climax. We don't speak in monotones nor should our music be subjected to it. Even if the phrase doesn't have a strong climax the 'words' that make up the phrase have a natural intonation. The highest note in a phrase is typically the climax of it and the phrase ending usually comes down from it. Polish includes building the dynamics up toward the climax and releasing it for the phrase end. And then we build all the phrase climaxes up to the main climax of the piece.

In order to point the notes just so we need to be not just familiar with the notes but our mechanism should be used enough from playing it that we have mental capacity left over to add these tiny touches, a slightly shorter staccato here, a softer one there and a clearer break between those two phrases. This demands more time having been spent on the piece, perhaps having much of it in memory. It takes time to learn what the piece is really saying - that is, our own interpretation of it, and then to be able to bring it out.

Time and effort spent on these things usually makes them part of the learning process at the beginning of a piece and even when sight reading.

When harder pieces are learnt some of these implied attributes are ignored or are too difficult to maintain while we're struggling with unfamiliar or awkward movements just playing the notes.

The accents and base dynamics should be applied before the piece should be considered ready to be dropped but the tiny touches from greater intimacy may be left for those pieces that appeal and will be maintained as repertory.

The first line of Happy Birthday, an example from another thread, has the accent on 'to you' where it rises to the tonic (e&oe, I'm at my desk without the score). In the second line it rises higher to the supertonic and singers will need a touch more breath for it. On the third line the Climax of the whole song is on the dominant for 'birth' which demands the most breath and the close of the phrase falls to allow an easy release of the failing breath. The last line falls prematurely to tonic but doesn't close there as it falls on a weak accent for 'day' and needs the next 'to you' to close on a strong accent and on tonic. Adding these things is polish. Though all the notes are mezzoforte, except perhaps a forte on the main climax, they are not all of the same dynamic value. A good reader will have them in as part of their fundamental technique but a beginner would have to add them after getting the notes.
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#2266441 - 04/24/14 02:01 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: zrtf90
n order to point the notes just so we need to be not just familiar with the notes but our mechanism should be used enough from playing it that we have mental capacity left over to add these tiny touches, a slightly shorter staccato here, a softer one there and a clearer break between those two phrases.

I am going to address this more directly than the first time round. The beginner student has to be PHYSICALLY ABLE to do these things. "mental capacity" is not enough. Playing an instrument involves physical skill and coordination which need to be developed over time. Trying to do this too early can be crippling or at least frustrating.

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#2266626 - 04/24/14 08:50 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
hreichgott Online   content
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Great example zrtf90.

keystring -- you're completely right, in which case my question remains, why not stick with pieces the student *is* physically able to play well once fully learned? with a slight but not insurmountable challenge on each new piece, until those physical skills have developed over time?
_________________________
Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com
Sounding the depths of small pieces: Beethoven Op. 33
Daily attempts at 16th notes: Chopin Op. 10 no. 4, Pischna
Totally loving Fauré/Barcarolles and Ravel/Tombeau de Couperin
I love Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and new music

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#2266684 - 04/25/14 12:11 AM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: hreichgott]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: hreichgott

keystring -- you're completely right, in which case my question remains, why not stick with pieces the student *is* physically able to play well once fully learned?

I'd like to turn that question around. Why not stick with skills that student *is* physically able to handle? This is what I was saying. In the example of playing one voice louder than the other, this happens in any piece, even the simplest ones. But you wouldn't ask this of a student who is just learning to coordinate the basic playing of notes with a generally controlled touch. Any piece can be played at various levels.

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#2266710 - 04/25/14 02:56 AM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: keystring]
outo Offline
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Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: keystring
Any piece can be played at various levels.


This is something I think is very important for any student to understand. Listen to a great pianist play something level 3. No amount of practice on the piece NOW will enable me to do that (which means "fully learned" isn't possible), it's a long term goal. I move forward and build up all kinds of skills and hopefully one day I can play that piece as beautifully.


Edited by outo (04/25/14 02:58 AM)

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#2266712 - 04/25/14 03:07 AM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
noobpianist90 Offline
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Registered: 07/23/13
Posts: 383
Loc: India
I wouldn't know about others but I have never been completely satisfied by my playing of a piece. I always find that there are micro changes that I can make to improve it, especially when I record it and listen again. I always find there is something left to "polish" further.

The only time I "drop" a piece is so that I can re-learn it, which I feel strengthens my memory of the piece.


Edited by noobpianist90 (04/25/14 03:08 AM)

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#2266713 - 04/25/14 03:10 AM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: noobpianist90]
earlofmar Online   content
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Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1586
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: noobpianist90
I wouldn't know about others but I have never been completely satisfied by my playing of a piece.


You are definitely not alone there.
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#2267113 - 04/25/14 07:43 PM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: keystring]
hreichgott Online   content
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Registered: 04/11/13
Posts: 1004
Loc: western MA, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
[quote=hreichgott]
In the example of playing one voice louder than the other, this happens in any piece, even the simplest ones. But you wouldn't ask this of a student who is just learning to coordinate the basic playing of notes with a generally controlled touch.


I do, and that's what was asked of me.
I don't do it at the same lesson where we learn the first 2 RH notes along with the first 2 LH notes. We spend a few lessons on notes, except for quicker or older students who need less time, and then if the student hasn't naturally brought out the melody then we start working on that. About half of them bring out melodies without prompting, some combination of natural attachment to melody plus right-handedness, and about half need some helpful exercises.

Quote:
Any piece can be played at various levels.

Also totally true! I think I just have a different opinion about the minimum level...

EDIT: I assumed you meant "basic playing of different notes in each hand." If we're talking about basic playing of notes, period, then that's what one handed pieces and unison pieces are for.


Edited by hreichgott (04/25/14 07:47 PM)
_________________________
Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com
Sounding the depths of small pieces: Beethoven Op. 33
Daily attempts at 16th notes: Chopin Op. 10 no. 4, Pischna
Totally loving Fauré/Barcarolles and Ravel/Tombeau de Couperin
I love Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and new music

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#2267264 - 04/26/14 06:47 AM Re: Beginner-know when to drop an old piece? [Re: alans]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2370
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: keystring
Why not stick with skills that student *is* physically able to handle?
Doing what you can does not promote growth. Development comes from increasing what you can do.

Originally Posted By: keystring
In the example of playing one voice louder than the other, this happens in any piece, even the simplest ones. But you wouldn't ask this of a student who is just learning to coordinate the basic playing of notes with a generally controlled touch.
Our approaches may differ here. I wouldn't ask a student to coordinate the basic playing until they've mastered the even more fundamental skill of playing with arm weight instead of their fingers (speed or strength). Once they are capable of making music with each hand separately then they can start coordinating the hands together.

If they are using a 'generally controlled touch' using weight through the fingers and bringing out the accents, that's fine. If they aren't managing the dynamics they need to sort that out first. That's the difference between the piano and the organ or harpsichord.

The piano is a dynamic instrument and the dynamics are fundamental. Accents need to be brought out as do climaxes. If they aren't, where's the music? Anyone who sings or plays a wind instrument, including brass, learns this automatically; string players may be at a disadvantage here. The dynamics are controlled with bodyweight being channelled through the fingers. This is why we keep insisting on beginners starting with pianos that have fully weighted keys instead of keyboards that are un-weighted or semi-weighted.

The music comes first. Skills grow in order to bring out the music.
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Richard

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