Learning a Piece.

Posted by: Mr. Virtuoso

Learning a Piece. - 12/04/07 12:08 PM

Hi! I currently learning to play three pieces perfectly. I was wondering...what is the best way to learning/playing a piece perfect? Thanks!
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Learning a Piece. - 12/04/07 01:40 PM

I would think that the first thing you should learn is not to call piano compositions "songs".

Secondly, once the notes are well into the hand, you should frequently practice your pieces slowly, with precision and clarity, with particular attention to every single mark in the score. Don't be careless about what you learn, and don't learn mistakes because learned mistakes are very hard to correct.

Reading the score away from the piano is always a good exercise; it's amazing - sometimes - how many details you can pick up from the score that you can gloss over when reading and playing.

Hands-separate practice is always good for difficult passages.

When you are learning and even when you are perfecting a piece, it is a mistake to use most of your practice time to just "play through" the pieces from beginning to end. More of your practice time should be spent "practicing", working out problems in individual sections, refining dynamics than it is to just play through.

For many people, occasional practice with a metronome is also a good use of practice time; it helps assure you that you don't speed up the overall tempo in fast passages or in easy passages and that you don't slow down in slower passages or more difficult passages.

When you do play through your pieces - and we all should occasionally play through pieces from start to finish - imagine that you are in a performance situation. Don't stop and make corrections. Make a mental note of the problems you encountered and go back and "fix" them later by some of the methods suggested above.

Posted by: Mr. Virtuoso

Re: Learning a Piece. - 12/04/07 02:35 PM

Thanks, BruceD.

However, I don't have a metronome. Would it be a disadvantage to NOT have a metronome with your acoustic piano? Thanks again!

BTW, I edited my thread title from 'Learning a Song' to 'Learning a Piece'.
Posted by: Stanza

Re: Learning a Piece. - 12/04/07 04:21 PM

As usual, BruceD comes through with sage advice. The only think I might add is to use "connection" when practicing segments. In other words play thought to the first note(s) of the next section. Metronomes can be had for cheap and are are of great value.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Learning a Piece. - 12/04/07 11:54 PM

Definitely invest in a metronome, they're around $20 or less for a simple one. There was a thread posted in the Teacher's Forum a while back about buying metronomes, so if you're looking for a decent one, do a search for that thread.

BruceD's advice is right on. I do this mentally, but it might help for you to write down all the passages that need extra work as you encounter them to make sure you don't miss any. Focused work like this may take several days or weeks to get a particular passage just right, so don't be frustrated if it takes many different approaches to perfecting passages.

Also, I am a firm believer in blocking and practicing in rhythms. Blocking means you play all the notes in a measure or a beat as a chord rather than one t a time or however it may be written. You try to group notes according to their harmonic structure. This helps give you the big picture while getting your hand to memorize what notes are coming up. With rhythms, you can swing the 8ths or 16ths or whatever you have most of as long-short, then when that is easy, do short-long. When that's easy, play them in 3 note grouping with a bit of a pause in between, then every 4 notes, 5 notes, and 6 notes, making sure you can play it easily before moving on to the next level.

There are a ton of other techniques that will help you perfect your pieces, but this should be enough to get you started!
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Learning a Piece. - 12/05/07 02:34 AM

Yep, excellent advice here Mr Virtuoso.
Posted by: Dan101

Re: Learning a Piece. - 12/05/07 06:43 AM

With respect to the original post, I would not worry about learning a piece perfectly, but rather to the best of your abilities. There's a difference.

Metronomes are a useful tool, but they can be rather annoying. For what it's worth, many of my professors at college did not care for them. The process of repeating entire sections over and over again is rather time consuming, albeit thorough.

Sectional practice and honing in on problem areas is more time efficient, provided you play through the entire piece after having done this sectional practice.
Posted by: Mr. Virtuoso

Re: Learning a Piece. - 12/10/07 02:14 PM

Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
Yep, excellent advice here Mr Virtuoso. [/b]
Indeed. \:D