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#925226 - 07/16/08 09:27 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7354
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Jeremy, your comments on technique are inspirational. Thank you.

Student's ideas and concepts about practice are as distant from their teacher's as the earth is from the moon. I would guess that if you interviewed a thousand students concerning practicing scales, the would be first on the correct notes, then the correct fingers, then perhaps velocity. Focus on tone, touch control, hand, wrist, and arm movements probably would not be mentioned at all.
_________________________
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#925227 - 07/16/08 09:50 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11661
Loc: Canada
Elise, that is interesting. There must be something extra to these uneven scales ... uneven for a reason, a musical purpose perhaps. (?)

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#925228 - 07/16/08 10:18 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Piano*Dad Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10356
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
 Quote:
focus on tone, touch control, hand, wrist, and arm movements probably would not be mentioned at all.
Which is exactly what I am trying to accomplish at my house.
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Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#925229 - 07/16/08 11:15 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
Elise,

Chainsaw comment---practicing scales mindlessly is like cutting wood with a chainsaw that is turned off...it will cut but...

Straw man---an argument tactic where you take an easily refuted point that seems like it is my view, but really is not. Kinda like putting words in my mouth.

this was in response to your No scales=no technique comment. Nobody would say that
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Music is the surest path to excellence

Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
Pianoexcellence Tuning and Repairs

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#925230 - 07/21/08 12:14 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianobuff Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
To chime in... for advanced level students at least 2 hours of practice, if you are serious and wanting to progress, imo.

I would hope that a serious student would be working on 4 pieces from each period of music. Plus warm-ups before hand... yes scales, arpeggios, are definately a must... not just for techinique but for theory too. All of this will take at least 2 hours... And six days of practice a week and then you'll see results quickly. Another 30 minutes on most days could be used for review pieces, even if it is just a couple of pieces that can be performed while working on the new ones.
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#925231 - 07/23/08 01:59 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
SantaFe_Player Offline
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Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 607
Elise_B, I'm sure if you really don't want to play scales, you can find a myriad of 'reasons' not to do it. But pianoexcellence is correct - scales are an important aspect of technique development, they are important in development of theory, and if a pianist has really internalized the scales and is able to play them with ease, then any passage in some etude or other than contains them will be played correctly instantly - and the pianist won't even have to think about the key or a key change or any such things because he/she will immediately recognize the upcoming passage. This is critical for reading skills (accompanying in particular - accompanists have to do a lot of sightreading and it needs to be darn near flawless and sound good at the same time) as well as facilitating better overall playing skills.
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#925232 - 07/23/08 02:47 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano*Dad:
We're also keeping a practice log so he can look back on how he is arranging his time, and how long he is actually practicing each day. [/b]
If you are already going that far,

Have you thought of pre-planning all your goals for the next day at the end of each practice session? When studying seriously, I planned 4 hours of practice down to 5 minute intervals. each interval had a goal (and test) that that i thought I could achieve in 5 minutes. often I was wrong about exactly how long the goals would take, but in the end, I usually came pretty close. Deciding upon what outcome will take how long to achieve is a fabulous exercise in awareness at the piano. it also creates a sense of urgency in practice...even 2.5 hours in. ;\)

This Pre-planning usually only took 10-25 minutes, and now I have a notebook full of information on how I learn best. Planning at the end of a practice session allows one to dive right in at the next session without missing a beat. I have little doubt that 25 minutes spent planning resulted in a 200% ROI.

Just a thought.

-P-
_________________________
Music is the surest path to excellence

Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
Pianoexcellence Tuning and Repairs

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#925233 - 07/23/08 02:55 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
Another thing P*D,

If P*S is practicing more than 2 hours a day, overuse injury can come into play.

I suffered fairly bad overuse injury and, managed to cope and eventually heal completely by using certain practice strategies. Here is one portion of a handout I made for my students who begin feeling pain.

5) Practice habits
- Allow at least 3 days of complete rest on the weekends. Do not even think about touching the piano. You’ll be surprised to find that you will usually play better after the third day…??!!
- Do not practice for more than 30 minutes without a break.
- Plan practice time down to 5 minute intervals. Change direction each 5 minutes, from a polished piece to a beginning stage piece, from technique, to reading, to ear. Mix it up.
o You’ll be surprised how fast 30 minutes goes by when you do this. Force yourself to take a break.
- Spend a great deal of time at half speed for everything. Become comfortable with the space between beats at 40-60 on the metronome. Play with full expression and zero tension. Breathe.
o If your technique is good, then you will not have to practice at full speed any more than 10% of the time.
o You will also find a unique sense of ease, relaxation, and control in your playing at full speed after playing numerous times at 40-60 on the metronome.
- Visualize…can you close your eyes and visualize the piece? Imagine a keyboard, and watch your hands play the piece on this keyboard. Great alternative to counting sheep.
o when visualizing, Start with technical exercises, and work up from there to your pieces.
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Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
Pianoexcellence Tuning and Repairs

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#925234 - 07/23/08 07:59 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Piano*Dad Offline
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Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Pre-planning? \:D

I'm just thankful we're logging the stuff! One step at a time.

I'm not worried about overuse injury. Lots of people practice 4-5 hours per day. Actually, he's going for four hours today, which will be a first. He's unlikely to suffer overuse injury precisely because he practices in 30-50 minute bursts followed by significant break time (to practice video games! ;\) ).

I think I'm getting a little buy in on the value of mastering technique for making everything else come much easier. We're doing 30-45 minutes per day on basic technique.

Relax on the weekends???? That's got to be the really productive time during the school year. He plans for three hours per day on the weekends and two per day on school days. Sixteen hours per week is probably required for him to continue to have the kind of learning trajectory that he has enjoyed in the past and which will keep him competitive with all the other good young (Asian ;\) ) pianists in our neck of the woods.

Of course, there is no particular reason to be 'competitive' except that it is exactly what he wants to do. He likes to compete with them, and it's silly to do so if you don't pay your dues. He also realizes that he has the potential, but only if he sweats a little.
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#925235 - 07/23/08 08:14 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
...Just in case...I didn't think I would get overuse injury either.

I would be better to say a "3 day break". Weekend is not the important thing.

Nothing wrong with competition.
_________________________
Music is the surest path to excellence

Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
Pianoexcellence Tuning and Repairs

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#925236 - 07/24/08 10:22 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Late Bloomer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:
I spend a good part lesson time outlining goals, and discussing exactly what they need to do to reach those goals. Students go home with a list of 10-20 goals.

Each goal has a test that must be passed, before they can check it off the list. Designing the tests is the most challenging part, and makes for some great discussions with the student.
[/b]
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:
When studying seriously, I planned 4 hours of practice down to 5 minute intervals. each interval had a goal (and test) that that i thought I could achieve in 5 minutes.
[/b]
I would like to hear more about this. Could you please give a few examples of the goals that you set and the tests that you use for each goal?

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#925237 - 07/25/08 12:05 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
We had a discussion on this about a year ago.

I will try to dig it up. I put all the information down back then. I have been slowly tweaking my system since that time, so if I cannot find it, I will re-state my positions on this.

-P-
_________________________
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Pianoexcellence Tuning and Repairs

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#925238 - 07/25/08 12:39 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
One quick example to get you started,

Let's say that there is a technical difficulty with fingering or whatever...Set a metronome speed at which you will attempt to play 3x in a row with accuracy. Metronome speed should be S-L-O-W to promote awareness. You must strongly invoke your concious mind when overcoming a subconcious or neuromuscular (technical) blunder. You usually cannot fix a problem that lies in your fingers by playing fast.

Or on a different note...Lets say that there is a place in a piece where your memory fails you. Your goal and test could be to come up with a lyric that provides a verbal cue to the movement...."B-dom-i-nant-se-ven-in-side-then-out", could be a verbal cue to describe a tricky moving Alberti bass pattern. The test would be to play and sing your lyric 5x.

You really are only limited by your creativity. Contrary to student opinion, time spent in thought is very rarely wasted.

If you have a problem that you cannot devise a goal or test for, please type it in and I will help get you started.

-P-
_________________________
Music is the surest path to excellence

Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
Pianoexcellence Tuning and Repairs

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#925239 - 07/25/08 01:50 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Late Bloomer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:
We had a discussion on this about a year ago.[/b]
Are you referring to this thread?

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/27/1504.html#000018

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#925240 - 07/25/08 02:39 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Late Bloomer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:
If you have a problem that you cannot devise a goal or test for, please type it in and I will help get you started.[/b]
What kind of test would you use for sight-reading?

Ideally I would make no pitch or rhythm errors at all when sight-reading a piece, but usually I make at least a few. If I try again, it's not sight-reading anymore. Is it even a reasonable goal to sight-read with 100% accurate pitch and rhythm?

Assuming for the moment that it is a reasonable goal, what can I do when I realize that I am making errors? I can see several options:
  • Use a slower tempo. I find that this helps up to a point, beyond which it takes extra effort to stay on the beat and my sight-reading actually gets worse. The same thing applies to effort spent on counting if I decide that, say, a sixteenth note gets the beat in a 4/4 piece.
  • Choose simpler pieces. Today I was sight-reading from Alfred Masterwork Classics, Level 1, and still hitting some wrong notes. Simpler material than that is often mind-numbing to hear when played (IMO), but maybe it is my best option.
  • Don't play through an entire piece at once. Instead, decide in advance to play a certain number of measures and try to get through that much error-free. I have tried this and it seems promising.
  • Spend more time analyzing the piece before playing. I have noticed that this helps as well. Maybe goals could be set for the analysis instead of (or in addition to) the actual playing.

If it is not a reasonable goal to sight-read with 100% accurate pitch and rhythm, then what is the best way to define how much inaccuracy is allowed? There are various types of errors one can make, and I imagine that keeping track of an error count could interfere with the sight-reading.

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#925241 - 07/25/08 02:58 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Late Bloomer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
If my above post about elementary sight-reading troubles seems completely off-topic in a thread about advanced students, I apologize. Maybe I need to start my own thread.

I wonder, though, how many advanced students are poor sight-readers. There is a huge gap in difficulty between what I can sight-read and what I can prepare for performance over an extended period.

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#925242 - 07/25/08 03:08 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5462
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano*Dad:
keep him competitive with all the other good young (Asian ;\) ) pianists [/b]
Hey!

I have a few students going to a competition this coming weekend, and I can assure you that they are not practicing more than 30 minutes per day. AND THAT'S DURING SUMMER BREAK WHEN THEY ARE HOME ALL DAY LONG WITH NOTHING BETTER TO DO!!! I'm not holding my breath. I predict an utter disaster, complete wipeout.

I just had a horrible week of lessons. Kids aren't as hardworking as they used to be. \:\(
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#925243 - 07/25/08 09:56 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
/QUOTE]What kind of test would you use for sight-reading?

[/b]
LB,

Practice your sight reading withing the context of learning pieces. Imagine this allegory: You wish to carry a large dresser up the stairs. You can choose to make several trips by taking each of the drawers out, or you can try to wrestle the whole thing in one go.

Remember this motto: practicing is not doing something over and over until you get it right...Practicing is doing something RIGHT over and over. Remember, your performance is the sum total of what happens in the practice room.

Here's the difference. Let's assume you are looking at a new goal (measures 9-12 left hand only) that you wish to practice, and eventually pass a test...your goal is to learn the entire section without making even one mistake in the process.

The only way for this to be possible...is to look for the simple withing the difficult. Start easy, and gradually add difficulty. As you mentioned: play slow, work on smaller sections, and of course Hands together. I will give my two favorite other simplification tools---tapping (isolating only the rhythm)---and pulsing (playing only strong metrical beads first, then filling in the rest)


Here's one possible sample approach that can actually allow you to not even make one mistake while practicing:


1) count out loud and tap the rhythm 5x (use left hand on left knee...this actually initiates the neuromuscular reference point in your subconcious...it is very important that the first three repititions be accurate

2) take Left hand from one measure to the next, trying to find a position on the keyboard that allows you to play each measure with ease. Just touch the keys in the best 5 finger position

3) Scour the section looking for intellectual reference points. All rudiments, motifs, sequences ect should be identified and labeled. (you have not played even played a note yet...don't worry it will come soon)

4) While looking at the score, imagine yourself playing the music, internally feel any spots where fingering may be a challenge. work them out now without making a sound. (this will help you to develop a 6th sense with fingering)

5) PLAY only the first beat of each measure. Then add any other metrically strong beats (3) if in 4/4. Finally add in any other filler notes. (use a slightly larger muscle initiation for the strongest beats---upper or lower arm---). A push, like a ice skater. This will help to feel comfortable as you sense the spaces in each measure.

6) Play through a few times normally

7) Test yourself with the metronome, 3x in a row to pass. The speed is not important, after all, if your technique is solid, any memorized, internalized material will be comfortable at your max technical level.

Remember that your concentration lives and thrives in the land of the possible. Practice with a sense of ease. Linger on each of these steps longer than you normally would.

Could you learn it faster by just jumping in Hands together, playing normally? Often you can...but you will have played it ONCE correctly instead of 50-100 times correctly using my approach. This approach has a learning curve in it's application. You are learning how to learn ;\) I understand how this sounds.

Some cannot be bothered to go through all of this. I cannot be bothered to wrestle with a slippery subconcious later on when I have to painstakingly clean up the mess that is left there from the plethora of accurate and innacurate information that is juxtaposed there.

If you make it through the practice process without one mistake (I've come close, but never managed it...YET). I sincerely believe that you will not be able to make a mistake in performance even if you tried.
_________________________
Music is the surest path to excellence

Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
Pianoexcellence Tuning and Repairs

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#925244 - 07/25/08 10:01 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7354
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
AZN, we all have weeks like this, but we also have good weeks. Yesterday, two students arrived with their assignments fully memorized, something I didn't ask them to do, and the other students were fully prepared. So I'd say, this is one of the great weeks!
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#925245 - 07/25/08 10:02 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
Oh and:

Yes you dug up the right old thread:

I think you should copy and paste Your question and my answer into a new thread, for a separate discussion on reading.

Hope I've helped

-P-
_________________________
Music is the surest path to excellence

Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
Pianoexcellence Tuning and Repairs

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#925246 - 01/05/09 11:58 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Tigero Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/05/09
Posts: 15
Loc: San Jose, California
 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:
I don't currently have any advanced students but a couple late intermediate ones. I give a time recommendation sometimes, if I feel that they aren't quite doing enough. However, I think it is better to concentrate on how to practice, rather than the time practiced. I think the time can be different for the individual, because not everyone can concentrate for hours on end (like me). I need to do a half hour here and there throughout the day to really make good progress.

I once asked my graduate piano teacher how much time I should be spending, and she said that they recommend for performance majors 4 hours per day, and education majors 2 hours per day, but since I was a teacher while studying with her, she said whatever I could get in!

I do think that simply requiring time is similar to when school teachers tell students that a paper must be X pages long. You will often get a lot of fluff with that requirement. Perhaps giving a range or suggestion just to give them an idea of the time involved, but concentrate more on the tangible results.

For instance, telling a student that they should get the first two pages learned well by next week or something like that, going into detail as to how to do this. [/b]

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#925247 - 01/06/09 12:07 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Tigero Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/05/09
Posts: 15
Loc: San Jose, California
I agree with Morodiene that practicing is much more about quality than quantity. It usually take me 20 minutes or more playing a song repeatedly before my concentration can immerse deeply as how to shape the piece the way I wanted and how I should play it to rectify tricky areas. Before that, I would get frustrated easily when I play the wrong notes.

I'm in like a trance when I'm really concentrating on what needs to get done.

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#925248 - 01/06/09 01:22 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Piano*Dad Offline
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Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Whoa, resurrecting a very old thread. Why???

Usually we don't bring back old threads unless there is something really new to add that calls for revitalizing the existing topic and all of its posts. If you have a new idea, instead of piggy-backing on stuff that is six months old you should start a new thread.
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#925249 - 01/06/09 07:06 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
This is one of the most interesting and helpful threads I've read in a while.

So...

Someone (late intermediate)who practices 3 hours a day in 1 hour sessions... is it wiser/necessary to incorporate scale/arpeggio practice at each session.

I plan my practice sessions carefully and it actualy works ....for a while... then I find myself falling into a pattern of....

Working on scales (one or two) and/or any etudes assigned (about 15 minutes), then playing/polishing a couple of 'finished' pieces (15 minutes) then working on the (usually)two 'in progress' pieces for the last half hour. I sometimes do this for only the first two sessions of my day and spend my evening session sightreading or playing from fake books or easier pop/christmas or what ever mood I'm in...

Practicing scales major and minor and arpeggios and dominant 7th chords and inversions etc...... all takes some time. I find it difficult to maintain a structured practice routine for more than a couple of weeks. Wondering how others do it.

Although, I bet if I had to play scales etc. at my lessons I'd manage to keep on track. Do you who are teachers require students to play these for you each week?
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#925250 - 01/07/09 01:32 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4785
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by IPIBAHN - Sandy:
Practicing scales major and minor and arpeggios and dominant 7th chords and inversions etc...... all takes some time. I find it difficult to maintain a structured practice routine for more than a couple of weeks. Wondering how others do it.

Although, I bet if I had to play scales etc. at my lessons I'd manage to keep on track. Do you who are teachers require students to play these for you each week?
Why would you expect a teacher to do this? If this is work you could do at home, why waste lesson time with it?
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#925251 - 01/07/09 03:46 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2896
Loc: UK.
I try to hear some scales/arps every lesson. If not I know plenty of students who would 'forget' to practice them at all.

Regarding practice time for advanced students. What I find most frustrating is that advanced students are often in the final stages of their school education. Most of my better pianists are in year 12 or 13. This means that they struggle to find much practice time at all because they are taking several subjects at advanced level. During the months leading up to A level exams they do well to find as much as an hour a day. This is totally inadequate if you are studying piano at an advanced level. Now those who choose to study music at university will find that they suddenly have the opportunity to practice for 5-6 hours a day. It will be expected of them. This is when the real progress happens, at that first year of university. I remember going through this change myself.
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#925252 - 01/07/09 05:32 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gary D.:
 Quote:
Originally posted by IPIBAHN - Sandy:
Practicing scales major and minor and arpeggios and dominant 7th chords and inversions etc...... all takes some time. I find it difficult to maintain a structured practice routine for more than a couple of weeks. Wondering how others do it.

Although, I bet if I had to play scales etc. at my lessons I'd manage to keep on track. Do you who are teachers require students to play these for you each week?
Why would you expect a teacher to do this? If this is work you could do at home, why waste lesson time with it? [/b]
I don't expect him to and it would waste valuable lesson tme, not to mention it would be painfor for him to listen to. I was just wondering if there are teachers who require students to play them at lessons. I take responsibility for my own technical exerciese but have trouble staying on track with them.
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#925253 - 01/07/09 08:31 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2896
Loc: UK.
Scales are technical exercises. If you spend a lot of time practicing them it will bring about change to your technique. So what if you are practicing scales with poor technique? I wouldn't consider it a waste of lesson time to check up on this.

Sandy, you want a more structured routine for scale practice don't you? Then it would seem a good use of lesson time to plan something out with your teacher.
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#925254 - 01/07/09 09:24 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
Good idea. My teacher has given me a wealth of information and suggestions over the years for practicing scales and other technical exercises, but it's not part of our regular lesson. I'll do a schedule of my own this week and discuss it with him at my next lesson.
_________________________
It's the journey not the destination..

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#925255 - 01/07/09 10:32 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Akvarn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/26/08
Posts: 35
Loc: Norway
My view on scales and exersices is this: Every piece is a set of tecniques put together to create beautiful sound. To master these tecniques beforehand makes playing that particular piece more fun and it is learned more quickly.

This is my motivation for isolating certain tecniques and playing scales. This isn't meaningless or boring since I know why I'm doing it and what I want to achieve. Etudes can be quite useful for the same purpose. If I practice scales regularly for a period it can get a bit boring, so I go through other types of exersices for a while. My point: Time flies since I'm having a good time, I don't worry about it.

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