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#925196 - 07/16/08 09:32 AM Advanced Student Practice Time
Piano*Dad Offline
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Here are a set of related questions just to get a discussion going.

At a broad level, what is an appropriate amount (or range) of time you recommend for an advanced student's practice? This requires some common understanding of what 'advanced' means, of course.

Do you try to individualize your recommendation, or do you go the simpler route of requiring everybody to do at least X hours per day?

Do you insist, or just recommend?

If you insist, do you monitor in some fashion?

Do you think there are diminishing returns and ultimately negative returns from increasing practice time? Diminishing returns means that each additional time segment (say quarter hours) creates learning gains that are smaller and smaller than the previous time segment. Negative returns means that the additional time segment actually makes things worse.
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#925197 - 07/16/08 09:49 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Morodiene Offline
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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.
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#925198 - 07/16/08 09:57 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
keystring Online   content
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Piano*Dad, I will venture to give the view of a parent of an advanced student at the university level preparing for a career as a professional musician. What follows is what I learned from him. Quality of practice, and not time, was the first priority. Time-wise, at third year university, his practicing consisted of about 5 hours daily. The first 1 1/2 - 2 hours consisted of "warm-ups" before working on a piece even started. This was not for piano, so I don't know how much applies to that instrument. The warm-ups were exercises in technique and accuracy. Students beginning the program were brought back to the absolute basics which are the cornerstone of everything else, and attention went first of all to making certain that these were correct at all time.

His particular approach to actual pieces was to build the framework first: correct notes, timing, and what constituted a steady tone quality for that instrument. Then the piece was developed - never before studying it in depth. I once asked him his thoughts on interpreting a given piece and he said "I can't tell, I haven't studied the score." He also believes a piece cannot be played musically unless it is fully memorized and absorbed.

His opinion, from the earliest days when still a teen, is that "putting in time" is counterproductive. Practicing should be efficient and focussed - almost a "laziness" where effective playing makes you work less hard. It is an internal, focussed activity, and as such neither of us has liked being monitored, and there has been mutual respect in that area. You cannot be absorbed in the task, working things out in a dialogue between yourself and the music, if you also expect to be interrupted, and for that input to come from the outside. That is, the "wrong note - too fast" kind of input.

Our relationship is reversed, since I'm the junior person. The few times I have received feedback on my playing, it has been a general observation that led me somewhere. For example, a while back he observed that in my work with tempo and rhythm, I did not seem to have an internalized sense of meter - and left me to pursue what that might mean. At other times he remained silent about an observation, realizing that I was not "there" yet, or that my teacher had a reason for not addressing this thing and not wanting to interfere in that process.

Since this was addressed to teachers in the teacher's forum and I'm answering as a student, I am happy to see corrections to anything I have written.

Keystring

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#925199 - 07/16/08 10:04 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Piano*Dad Offline
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I understand the tradeoff between time on the bench and the efficiency of that time. But that is not really the issue I'm asking about, except, I guess, as it figures into whether or not a teacher individualizes their expectations.

The tradeoff between time and efficiency is not linear. No matter how effectively you practice you cannot accomplish your goals in 20 minutes.

So, assuming a certain level of efficiency, what are the amounts of time you expect in order to meet your teaching goals? .... and all the other aspects of the question.
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#925200 - 07/16/08 10:13 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Morodiene Offline
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I guess one would have to look at how long it would take to play through a given piece under tempo and add up all the pieces a student is working on (since that is most likely what they will do to practice anyways). Then add time for concentrated work on difficult passages (assuming they do this at all), and that should give you an idea of the time needed.
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#925201 - 07/16/08 10:16 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
John v.d.Brook Offline
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PD, I provide my students who have reached upper Intermediate repertoire (easier Debussy, Mozart Sonatas, etc.) a little practice plan. It outlines how they should structure their daily practicing, not time involved. That aspect becomes obvious when putting the plan into effect.

For example, if your daily practice begins with slow scale practice, gradually speeding up to mm=168, and you work on half the circle of fifths, how much time is consumed? Not 5 or 10 minutes, but closer to an hour. If their practice includes two etudes, and they begin each slowly, at mm=40 and work up to mm=144, stopping to work on passages where fingering, phrasing, hand, arm, wrist positions need correcting, how much time is spent? Probably an hour.

Then they must turn to repertoire. First, repertoire they are learning and then repertoire they are polishing.

You just cannot accomplish this with 90 min of daily practice. I don't have to tell them this. They can hear the difference if they practice 90 min a day for a week, and 3 or 4 hours a week.

In the end, it boils down to what they want to learn, how quickly, how well. That's their decision. I believe it's incumbent upon the teacher to carefully explain this, but we cannot enforce it.
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#925202 - 07/16/08 10:25 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
keystring Online   content
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So John, are you telling them *what* to practice and *how", and if they incorporate the what and how it turns into length of time? In other words, you don't tell them how many hours they should practice, but if they follow your instructions, they would end up practicing (around 3 hours daily)?

KS

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#925203 - 07/16/08 10:52 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
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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. It also really helps to build awareness

I find that the "video gamer" crowd really responds to this.

I have never said to an advanced student "You need to practice 2 hours a day". In the end I'm sure they pracitce more than that because the little tests are so addictive.
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#925204 - 07/16/08 10:58 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Precisely. And it's probably closer to 4 hrs if they really dig in. But I also suggest that they sit down with pencil and paper, and draw up a time-flow chart of their day. When do they arise in the morning? How long between then and when they eat breakfast? What are they doing between getting up and leaving for school? Is there time there to practice scales, arpeggios, chords, and perhaps one etude? Or to do a repertoire review?

When do they arrive home from school? Do they have options for when they depart school? Are they lingering for social reasons? Could they shoe horn in 1 1/2 hrs immediately after school, and another hour after dinner?

Perhaps during the week, they can only work two hrs a day at the piano, but on Sat & Sun, they can expand their practice to four or five hours each day. This is actually very effective and will take them a long way. Just practicing two or three scales, working hard on one piece, and some repertoire review during the week, then full bore on the weekend.
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#925205 - 07/16/08 01:49 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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Registered: 08/07/07
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Loc: Orange County, CA
For advanced students, I "politely" ask them to practice 90 minutes per day. Of course, they don't.

I do find that 3 x 30 is better than 1 x 90 in terms of practice time. Three short sessions make better improvement than one marathon.
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#925206 - 07/16/08 02:13 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Elise_B Offline
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Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
scales..scales
. why?
Don't etudes serve the same purpose? I think scales take up too much of practice time if one is supposed to do them daily. Plus how well you play them is so variable.. i play them better if my teacher is looking. but at home i more and more skip them..too boring.. many etudes have enough runs to allow technique development/ maintenance.. Does everyone really recommend practicing scales every day??

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#925207 - 07/16/08 02:24 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13789
Loc: Iowa City, IA
 Quote:
Originally posted by AZNpiano:
For advanced students, I "politely" ask them to practice 90 minutes per day. Of course, they don't.

I do find that 3 x 30 is better than 1 x 90 in terms of practice time. Three short sessions make better improvement than one marathon. [/b]
3 x 30 is better than 1 x 90, but 3 x 90 is better than both of those.

If they're not practicing, then why ask?

And in my mind, if they're not practicing 90 minutes a day, then they're not advanced pianists.

For my students, it depends on what their lives are like. For a tightly scheduled high schooler who does other activities, an hour a day 5 days a week is recommended. For those who have chosen to focus on piano, two hours a day is best. For those who are focused and have made arrangements (leaving school early to practice, or being homeschooled), 3-5 hours a day is good.
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#925208 - 07/16/08 02:51 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Morodiene Offline
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
 Quote:
Originally posted by Elise_B:
scales..scales
. why?
Don't etudes serve the same purpose? I think scales take up too much of practice time if one is supposed to do them daily. Plus how well you play them is so variable.. i play them better if my teacher is looking. but at home i more and more skip them..too boring.. many etudes have enough runs to allow technique development/ maintenance.. Does everyone really recommend practicing scales every day?? [/b]
Yes, I do. And really, scales the way I have them practice don't take up a lot of time. Even going through all major keys chromatically over 4 octaves each takes all but 5 minutes. I know others are more regimented, but I try to make them as painless as possible. Scales are very important to help with understanding key signatures and good fingering, as well as developing dexterity.
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#925209 - 07/16/08 03:19 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Elise, there are many reasons for practicing steps, oops, I mean scales.

For one, it helps with achieving velocity. Most of my students couldn't do what Morodiene does, and get through the circle of 5ths, major and minor, in 10 minutes. They are still working their way up to mm=212.

Secondly, it's something you don't have to think about, fingering or note wise, so you can focus all your attention on evenness and tone value.

John
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"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#925210 - 07/16/08 03:36 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Piano*Dad Offline
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Yeah, scales! \:D

Actually, I'm pushing P*S through 'em all. Evenness and tone, exactly.

My son breaks his practice down into sessions. It's his learning style. 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. For the record, during the summer he's trying to do three hours of piano each day and an hour or so of horn.


Kreisler,

Three hours is so difficult for a contemporary high school student, and five is right out unless they are mono-focused on the instrument. That's fine for the weekend, but during the school week it's very hard. The mono-focussed thus inherit the earth! ;\)

 Quote:
And in my mind, if they're not practicing 90 minutes a day, then they're not advanced pianists.
Thanks! That gave me a nice chuckle. \:\)
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#925211 - 07/16/08 04:34 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
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Registered: 08/14/07
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Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
Students should not practice scales.

Students should practice technique. Since you have to play something, scales make a lot of sense.
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#925212 - 07/16/08 05:01 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Elise_B Offline
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Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:
Students should not practice scales.

Students should practice technique. Since you have to play something, scales make a lot of sense. [/b]
So practicing etudes does not achieve the same thing, and perhaps more?
I read "reflections from the Keyboard" last week; it is a collection of very interesting interviews with great pianists and many of them said that they did not emphasize scales in their practice or their teaching; in fact some were never encouraged to play them even when they were at much earlier stages of their studies.. So perhaps it is not so straightforward..

P*D, too bad P*S will start having homework like the rest of us next year!! :)I also start HS and i am very worried about maintaining enough practice again... Despite the stormy start of piano lessons this summer, i have to admit that things got a little better after i entered "teacher say Elise do " mode and started putting in 3 hours a day regularly..But once school starts again, this will be problematic, let alone if I have to include an hour a day of mindless scales.. i think from a time management point of view, it is hard to do.. My other requirements usually include an etude or two, new repertoire to memorize and keeping up the old repertoire, which my teacher delights in pop quizzing me on every now and then.. So something has to give when planning practice..

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#925213 - 07/16/08 05:16 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
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Etudes form an important part of technique.

Scales are a clearer benchmark, and and their ease of memory allow complete attention to tone. There is no need to adhere to any form of "performance practice", which makes scales very versatile almost any technique can be applied to them, and these can be easily compared side by side for appropriateness later on when deciding how to play pieces.

Students may become professional pianists through many means, some only through repertoire. Some argue that all specialized technique practice is unnecessary. You are not the only one with a "larger perspective".

I made it up to Gr. 10 without ANY solid scale practice. I also felt like I was driving a minivan on a racetrack. Etudes are fine, but when you break down each movement within the simplicity of a pattern (scales, chords, arpeggios), it is like going back to the garage and slowly building a formula one car from scratch. An etude is like a time trial course. S,C,A, is the time spent actually creating your car.

Build your playing mechanism...and learn to use it to create beautiful music...THAT is technique.

I have found that the most direct route to solid playing is technique. I ask students whether they want to take the scenic route or the interstate. A special few choose the interstate.

The direct route involves about 70% of practice time devoted to technique (in it's many forms). Technique is not just patterns, fingerings, and velocity. I say again: "Most of the things that people consider artistry are actually technique". Artistry comes in when the performer chooses his techniques carefully for expressive reasons.

Recreational pianists love to disparage scale playing...look how well I can play without them. To that I say, "Wow...you are very good...imagine your potential"
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#925214 - 07/16/08 05:49 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
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Registered: 08/14/07
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Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
elise says: "let alone an hour of mindless scales every day"


I could not agree more...

A chainsaw is not very good at cutting until you fire it up.
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#925215 - 07/16/08 06:03 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Piano*Dad Offline
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Jeremy,

That is one of the best simple defenses of the importance of technique, and of the importance of attenting to technical development, that I have read here.
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#925216 - 07/16/08 06:53 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
ProdigalPianist Offline
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Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:
Recreational pianists love to disparage scale playing...look how well I can play without them. To that I say, "Wow...you are very good...imagine your potential" [/b]
That is a broad generalization, and a bit too dismissive of "recreational pianists", in my opinion, considering the tiny percentage of those who take piano lessons, who are able to go on to make their living at the piano.

Many "recreational pianists" are quite serious about the piano. What is true of recreational pianists is generally a limited time available to practice. As, we saw in another thread, seems to also be true of piano teachers.

Scales could be of great benefit to those who do not currently practice them. The issue may, in fact, be that no one has taught them *how* to practice scales and what benefits can be realized from them.

The question, in terms of this thread, would then be, "how much % of your practice time should be devoted to scales?" Because, of course, you do need repertoire, too...
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#925217 - 07/16/08 07:22 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
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Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
You are right about my generalization.

I take it back.

That has been MY experience with recreational pianists that come to me to go to the next level. It usually takes me quite a while to get them on board with a technical regimen.

I hate it when people generalize...so I am glad you caught me on this.

My answer to your percentage question is: It depends on the student and their goals. I have students who spend between 0 and 80% of their total time on technique (according to our mutual agreement). Both of these numbers are extremes, and apply only to very special cases.
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#925218 - 07/16/08 07:49 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Elise_B Offline
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Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 81
Loc: nyc
well, I do not think in my really humble opinion that not getting too excited about scales specifically means ignoring technique.. I am not sure how one could move "to the next level" without technique. I know that a student's perspective on this is kind of suspect. But i also learnt, recently, that my suspicions are not completely ridiculous.
As I said, very prominent teachers (who have produced equally prominent non recreational pianists) have been quoted as recommending the incorporation of technique with music. "why practice octaves if you can practice playing the Liszt Octave etude", is a near quote from one of those teachers: Gyorgy Sandor (hope I am spelling it right). i also read some very insightful comments by the same person about life being very short and the pianist' repertoire extensive: Beethoven wrote 32 sonatas , why practice scales instead of real music? In fact he apparently has published a book about technique that i will be looking up.
I completley get it that each teacher has a method they trust and that there is more than one right way to achieve the same.. .. But i really don't get it if you say : No scales= no technique..

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#925219 - 07/16/08 07:55 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
ProdigalPianist Offline
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Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Pianoexcellence \:\)
I know that I was not taught why or how to practice scales. One of the many omissions that have had me playing 'catch up' ever since, unfortunately,

Elise_B
Why practice scales when you can practice real music? Well, I can only answer for myself, but when I am practicing real music I have about a dozen things that I'm trying to control and play well at the same time. With scales, that number is dramatically reduced...to only one or two things that I'm trying to do at the same time (ie-play softly and evenly, play loudly and evenly, or just, play evenly!).

I'm not good enough to only have to concentrate on one or two things when I'm playing real music.
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#925220 - 07/16/08 08:04 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
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Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
Elise

I did not say no scales=no technique.

My "straw man" alert is beeping right now.
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#925221 - 07/16/08 08:09 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
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Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
Also, Gyorgy Sandor's book is primarily about the rudimentary movements in piano.

Count how many times he references scales, chords and arpeggios in that main section of his book.

Karl Liemer, another master teacher is known to say that too many etudes ruins the nerves.

We can go back and forth dropping names of masters.
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#925222 - 07/16/08 08:09 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
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 Quote:
"why practice octaves if you can practice playing the Liszt Octave etude", is a near quote from one of those teachers: Gyorgy Sandor
I was curious about Mr. Sandor's pedagogical views, and found this clip: Interview about Sandor
In it, Sandor is quoted in remembrance of his teacher's teaching, (Bela Bartok), speaking of the the absolute beauty of Bartok's scales because of their pure technical execution. Sandor taught as he had been taught, and that teaching apparently included scales that had to be executed perfectly. I wonder whether the quote about octaves was taken in isolation, and Sandor was also making the point about technique being inherent in pieces?

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#925223 - 07/16/08 08:21 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
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Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
Keystring,

I agree.

Context Context Context.

I took detailed notes from the books of Liemer, Sandor, Whiteside, and many others. Any of them can be spoken for out of general context with quotes.

If I tried hard enough, I could probably make Whiteside sound like she advocates a fingery typewriter style touch.
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#925224 - 07/16/08 08:39 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Singing Sarah Offline
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Posts: 8
Well, I am a full time choir teacher with 3 small children. I have very little time to practice. But, I still like to keep up the repetoire that I have and develop new stuff. What I have learned though, is that to develop and maintain my technique through the rehearsal of scales in fact allows me to play more and it allows me to play more effectively the music that I wish to play. Someone stated earlier that music is made up of scales, etc. why not just get to the rep? We don't take the short cut because in the long run it's going to take you longer and your experience won't be as good. Continuing my scales, etc. allows me to play more rep, as well as play more effectively in the very little time that I have.

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#925225 - 07/16/08 08:50 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Elise_B Offline
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I am not sure what you mean by straw man, fired up saws etc..
i was simply quoting smething I gleaned from an interview and as I said it made me curious about reading the original book it refers to. So the caveat was there.. I am really not trying to challenge your methods , but just expressing an opinion. You are certainly not the first teacher to think highly of scales.. Mine does. or did. he is backing off a bit I get a feeling..or it may be the bad summer weather in the city..
i will also admit that reading about techniques and other pianists is completely new to me and I had not heard of the Sandor person until i read this book. So I could not drop any more master names if I wanted to..
KS, it is interesting you mentioned Bartok. In the same interview, Sandor says
(this one is a verbatim quote becasue I got the book right here):

"dubal: I know you studied with bartok. what was he like as a pianist, teacher and man?
Sandor: it was an overwhelming experience. (..)i will never forget my first lesson with him. he sat down and simply played a scale. To my amazement, he played it unevenly. His scale was alive. It came from somewhere, and went somewher. it wasn't stagnant, or bland. Such freedom was a revelation to me." pp284 (1984 edition).

it was a revelation to me too.

I will also add that these people navigate in different orbits than many of us..It may well be that you have to do perfect scales for the first 15 years and then uneven 'alive" ones for the next whatever years..

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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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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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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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 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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#925229 - 07/16/08 11:15 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
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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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#925230 - 07/21/08 12:14 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianobuff Offline
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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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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
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 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-
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#925233 - 07/23/08 02:55 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
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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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#925234 - 07/23/08 07:59 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Piano*Dad Offline
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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
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...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.
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#925236 - 07/24/08 10:22 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Late Bloomer Offline
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 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
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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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#925238 - 07/25/08 12:39 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
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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-
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#925239 - 07/25/08 01:50 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Late Bloomer Offline
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 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
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 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
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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
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 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
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 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.
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#925244 - 07/25/08 10:01 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
John v.d.Brook Offline
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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!
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#925245 - 07/25/08 10:02 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
pianoexcellence Offline
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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-
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#925246 - 01/05/09 11:58 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Tigero Offline
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 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
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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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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
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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
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 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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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
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 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
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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.
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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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#925256 - 01/07/09 11:52 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 Akvarn:
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.

[/b]
This is what I did just this morning. The two pieces I'm working on are in E and Eb so I ran through the scales M/m and chords w/inversions and arpeggios for these scales (although they are far from mastered). It helps to have a better understanding of the harmony and progressions when playing the piece. And nothing feels better than that Ah Ha moment when something falls in place.
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#925257 - 01/07/09 03:56 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Akvarn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/26/08
Posts: 35
Loc: Norway
Yes, that's a great reward.

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#925258 - 01/08/09 11:54 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 Akvarn:
If I practice scales regularly for a period it can get a bit boring[/b]
Have you tried Flip-flopping?

Play scales for 5 minutes, then play repertoire for 5. For many students, the tone does not continue to improve after the first 5 minutes is up.
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Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
Pianoexcellence Tuning and Repairs

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#925259 - 01/10/09 11:23 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Akvarn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/26/08
Posts: 35
Loc: Norway
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Akvarn:
If I practice scales regularly for a period it can get a bit boring[/b]
Have you tried Flip-flopping?

Play scales for 5 minutes, then play repertoire for 5. For many students, the tone does not continue to improve after the first 5 minutes is up. [/b]
Good reminder. It happens from time to time that I get caught in a tedious pattern although I try to flip-flop. Generally I find great joy in technical exercises because I know that they prepare me for the next piece or difficulties I am experiencing. My mind works best with diversity so I try to organize practice in intervals that are not too long and not too short.

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#925260 - 01/10/09 11:50 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7366
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
This month's Piano Explorer magazine for students featured Rachmaninoff. I decided to have the students read it out load for class today, so that we could discuss it as the article unfolded.

As a student, little Sergei was required to go live with his piano teacher! And he couldn't go home, even for school and holiday breaks!!!!

I polled the students to see how many would like to move in, receive 3 lessons a day, and practice in between. So far, no takers, though I may extend the offer to parents - there may be a few who wish to dump their little darlings for a couple of years.

According to the article, his adult practice regimen was 4 hrs a day - and 2 hrs a day on scales and arpeggios. The writer didn't make it clear (to me) whether practice totaled 4 or 6 hrs a day, when scales were included.
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#925261 - 01/11/09 01:53 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4801
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by John v.d.Brook:
This month's Piano Explorer magazine for students featured Rachmaninoff. I decided to have the students read it out load for class today, so that we could discuss it as the article unfolded.

As a student, little Sergei was required to go live with his piano teacher! And he couldn't go home, even for school and holiday breaks!!!!
It would be interesting to contrast Rachmaninov with Chopin, who by all accounts was also a master teacher. My impression is that Chopin was given great freedom when young.

Now, I wonder how many hours a day young Chopin practiced. \:\)
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#925262 - 01/11/09 02:22 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5483
Loc: Orange County, CA
John:

You are too kind! :p

I think practicing scales and technique for 2 hours per day is too much for normal piano players. Most kids today don't practice anywhere near 2 hours per day.
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#925263 - 01/16/09 09:11 AM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gary D.:
[QUOTE]
Now, I wonder how many hours a day young Chopin practiced. \:\) [/b]
There is a quotation from a letter Chopin's father, Mikolaj, wrote to him after he'd gone to France, Mikolaj states, "I never remember you working more than an hour at a time on someone's else's piece - - " Chopin pretty much taught himself in any case. His teacher, Zywny, was a friend of Chopin's father and primarily a violinist. He guided Chopin from the time he was about 6 until Chopin outgrew him at 12 but remained a fixture in the family for the rest of his life.
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#925264 - 01/16/09 04:20 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4801
Loc: South Florida
That matches pretty well with what I've read about Chopin's practice.

I have to shake my head reading about people playing scales for two hours a day. I have students who don't practice that much in a week. \:\(
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#925265 - 01/17/09 06:14 PM Re: Advanced Student Practice Time
ahvat Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/19/08
Posts: 125
I'm unsure about what level I'm at. But I am new to Schumann album. Sonatina, Chopins Mazurkas/Wlatz?Polonaises, Bach inventions, and Pischna with my teacher. Since just started piano about a year and a couple of months. I plan on taking major in Piano, and I also want to compose. Practice time depends how much time I need ot learn a piece and polish up on finished ones. But scales/arpeggios are always practice for me everyday.

Practicing/finished pieces

Clementi: 36.1 (sonatina)
Chopin: Mazurka 67.3
Schumann: Hunting Song (album for the young)
Schuberts Launder in G major
Kabalevsky op 27
Little Pishna (to strengthen my Fingers)

Learning
Bach Inventions no 1 (took me 2 days to learn this piece)
Clementi 36 adante

Everything takes me about 2-4 hours daily. I'm like everyone else I work everyday, But I do have time to practice everyday. I want to major in Piano, and become a [url=http://vatousuke.deviantart.com/gallery/[/URL]
Concept Artist in Anime/Manga.

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