What is the "normal" time required to learn a new exam piece (moderate length)?

Posted by: chihuahua

What is the "normal" time required to learn a new exam piece (moderate length)? - 01/15/09 05:31 AM

I have posted on the teacher's forum a little introduction to my "piano"-life (I was asking teachers for some advice):

I am now taking piano lessons and planning on doing exams again after 11 years of very infrequent and casual playing of the piano. When I should be practicing at least a few times a week, I was doing something like once a fortnight.

I have now picked up my practicing momentum to something like three times a week (4 times at most).

I am concerned about how "fast" one should be able to play a NEW piece at the right speed and of course, right technique (not perfectly though).

One of my possible exam pieces would be Schubert's Impromptu Op. 90 No. 2.

I started looking at it on Thursday last, and has practiced it for about one week now. Thus far, I can only play the first two pages at 3/4 speed, and is only learning the 3rd page yesterday (wednesday). I practiced four times this week.

I know there are diploma students who can learn a new piece like Chopin nocturne or waltz (easier ones) in one month or less.

Am I a very slow learner???

Teachers and pianists out there, can you advise me please? What is the "normal" time needed for students (at diploma level) to learn a new piece?
Posted by: Oxfords Gal

Re: What is the "normal" time required to learn a new exam piece (moderate length)? - 01/15/09 08:52 AM

 Quote:
Teachers and pianists out there, can you advise me please? What is the "normal" time needed for students (at diploma level) to learn a new piece?
Well you should have it mastered in 1 week, 11 hours, 20 minutes and 15 seconds if you practice 4 times a week.

Just joking there is no answer for that. It all depends on the person, and their ability. It can be 3 days for prodigy students, 1 week for above average, 3 months for others. Who knows really.

The only way to tell for sure is this.

Continue to practice and when you have it mastered you'll have your answer. However you can't assume that every piece you tackle will take you the same amount of time it took you to master this one. You just have to practice and let it take it's course.
Posted by: sotto voce

Re: What is the "normal" time required to learn a new exam piece (moderate length)? - 01/15/09 09:20 AM

I, too, think your question is impossible to answer for these reasons:
  • Every piece is different.
  • Different pieces, even of the same nominal "level," have different types of difficulty.
  • What's found difficult by one person may not be found difficult by another.
  • Everyone has a different combination of innate ability, technical development and practice habits (i.e., duration, structure, efficiency of their routine).

 Quote:
Originally posted by chihuahua:
Teachers and pianists out there, can you advise me please? What is the "normal" time needed for students (at diploma level) to learn a new piece? [/b]
If you wanted advice specifically from teachers and pianists, you could post your query in those respective forums (though I don't think you would find a definitive "answer" there, either).

Steven

[Edit: I now see you already did post to the Teachers Forum.]
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is the "normal" time required to learn a new exam piece (moderate length)? - 01/15/09 03:09 PM

 Quote:
I have now picked up my practicing momentum to something like three times a week (4 times at most).

I am concerned about how "fast" one should be able to play a NEW piece at the right speed and of course, right technique (not perfectly though).

One of my possible exam pieces would be Schubert's Impromptu Op. 90 No. 2.

I started looking at it on Thursday last, and has practiced it for about one week now. Thus far, I can only play the first two pages at 3/4 speed, and is only learning the 3rd page yesterday (wednesday). I practiced four times this week.

Teachers and pianists out there, can you advise me please? What is the "normal" time needed for students (at diploma level) to learn a new piece? [/QB]
You have already gotten some good advice here and in the teacher forum. Besides the fact that 3-4 days/week is not enough, and 2-3 hours at that level is average (teacher forum), I am wondering "how" you practice". Are you up to speed about this, and have you asked your teacher advice on this end of things?
Posted by: chihuahua

Re: What is the "normal" time required to learn a new exam piece (moderate length)? - 01/15/09 06:28 PM

Hi Keystring,

Heh heh, I had only ONE lesson from my teacher thus far.

I would ask her the next time I see her again.

My old (sinful) ways:

In this order ...

Scales/Arps/technical - 45-60mins
Old pieces - 60mins
New piece - 30mins

I think my problem would be - I spend less time learning a new piece. I tend to (want to) try to keep my repertoire (like revising old pieces), which I end up spending an inordinate amount of time on.

I warm up with scales/apps usually for about 45mins to an hour. After reading CC Chang's online book, I now spend the next block of time doing the new piece. (I used to practice a new piece LAST ... opps! When my brain is soggy after two hours).

Now, I might just jump into a new piece for about 30 minutes, then practice scales/apps/technical stuff, then perhaps old pieces.

My new practice schedule since last week:

New Piece - 30-40mins
scales/arps - 30-60mins (varies)
old pieces - varies (depending on stamina for that day)

Any thoughts?
Posted by: Oxfords Gal

Re: What is the "normal" time required to learn a new exam piece (moderate length)? - 01/15/09 07:42 PM

Someone posted this link on one of the threads but I don't remember who it was. \:\(

However, I adopted this way of practicing about 8 months ago and it works like a charm. The first time I started using it right after my lesson and when I went to class the following week my teacher exclaimed "Wow what did you do differently?"

The amount of time you practice is not important compared to how well you practice in a given amount of time.

You can practice for 5 hours a day but if you don't do it correctly it won't do much good.

Take a lookey and try it out, you'll be amazed at the results you get.

http://kantsmusictuition.blogspot.com/2007/09/secret-on-how-to-practice.html
Posted by: Ken.

Re: What is the "normal" time required to learn a new exam piece (moderate length)? - 01/15/09 08:43 PM

Thanks for that link Oxfords Gal.

I read about the 20 minute rule on another web page a few months ago and so instead of practising 1 hour straight (on woodwinds) I split it up into 3 20 minute sessions. This was for practising in general, not necessarily for memorizing. I don't know whether it has helped or not but it makes sense to me and I feel more fresh at the end the practice.

I use the 5 times rule for playing something correctly 5 times in a row for technique, again not for memorizing. However I think I may try this 7 times rule for memorizing and see how it goes.

I only practise piano 20 minutes a day plus 5-10 minutes later on, but seem to be doing well according to my teacher. Maybe that article is right.
Posted by: Wye Mun

Re: What is the "normal" time required to learn a new exam piece (moderate length)? - 01/15/09 08:55 PM

Thanks for link, Oxfords Gal. It's the first time I've read something in such detail about the method.

I believe it works. Years ago, while I was learning the guitar, I lived in a university dorm and could make frequent trips back to my room during the day. It gave me time for quite a number of mini practice sessions of 15-20 minutes each day. Until that time, I had never made such swift progress on a musical instrument.

But it's really hard to manage that sort of practice frequency as a working adult now!
Posted by: Mr Super-Hunky

Re: What is the "normal" time required to learn a new exam piece (moderate length)? - 01/15/09 09:20 PM

One month if your hooked; three months if your not.

More than three months your either not interested or worse!.
Posted by: chihuahua

Re: What is the "normal" time required to learn a new exam piece (moderate length)? - 01/18/09 10:34 AM

Oxfords Gal,

Thanks for the link!

Thanks a million!