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Smart like a Metronome?

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Author Topic: How To Better Utilise My Practise Time?  (Read 3336 times)
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« on: October 23, 2004, 10:57:25 AM »

Firstly, a small outline of me and my situation. I am a 19 year old male, from england, uk. I first started playing the piano at around 4 years of age, having about 5 minutes from the end of my sisters lesson. Although that means I have been playing the piano for around 15 years, I don't feel my current ability reflects this whatsoever. I know this is due to lack of practise and commitment in my earlier years (practise wise, I have always had 1 lesson per week). It has only been in the last couple of months or so that I have really realised the potential ive got, and have set my heart on becoming a performer later in life. (performing in restaurants and hotels, not concert halls). I have achieved distinction in all the practical exams I have taken (1, 3, JBM, 5) and I believe I am well on the way to achieving another distinction in grade 6. The thing that is sorely lacking though is my repetoire... I hardly know any pieces to play. I really really want to build this up, and expand my musical horizons, to learn a variety of pieces by bach, chopin, beethoven, mendehlson etc. My commitment is now there, I just need to information now on how to best utilise the time I have for practise.

I have quite a busy lifestyle, juggling my time between the piano, my girlfriend and my part-time job along with other things (I recently quit my computing course at college to pursue my music dream). I have set aside the same amount of time each day in which I concentrate solely on piano. This is 10am - 11.30am, then from 12.30am til 1.30am. That makes a total of 3 hours practice each day. My usual practise session goes like this:

1) Play through scales (play any iffy scales several times)
2) Play exam pieces (with metrenome where required, also repeating weak sections)
3) Work on other pieces I am learning (current pieces I am working on are Beethovens Sonata in C Minor 2nd movement, Chopins Nocturne in C# Minor, and Chopins Nocturne in Eb Major.)

I do those 3 steps for both 1.5hr sessions each day. I dont have a time limit for each section, I just work on each thing until I am happy to move on.
I am wondering if there is room for improvement where my practise session is concerned? I particularly want to concentrate on building my repetoire as large and as quick as possible. Is it better to concentrate on these 3 pieces until they are done, then start more, or should I have 10 pieces on the go, doing a little bit on each each day?

I have done some searches in these forums and other resources before posting here, and ive picked up a few hints that I am going to try. But more help is needed, and is much appreciated!

Thanks for any replies Smiley

- Chris
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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2004, 08:13:11 AM »

Do you think it is better that I should do small bits at a time on a lot of pieces, or concentrate on just 2 or 3 pieces at a time with larger chunks?
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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2004, 07:30:47 PM »

Have a look here:

(Accommodating practice times – 10 minute sessions – some mention on mental practice)

(Overpractising – stopping at the last perfect rendition).

(Getting technique from pieces – several important tricks: hand memory, dropping notes, repeated note-groups)

(practising long pieces – Good discussion if one should or should not listen to CDs - Slow motion practice, comparison with walking/running)

(common mistakes made by students)

(Mental practice – tips for fingering)

(How to keep a piece in the repertory – learn/forget/relearn)

(how to organise piano practise in short/medium/long term – Principle of memory retention – Principle of 15 minute sessions – stopping when you achieve your goals. Teachers should teach how to learn)

(How long does it all take? – several interesting posts: self-taught students, the cake analogy, criticism of ABRSM for expecting people to reach grade 8 in 10 years,  learning is not gradual and comparisom to reading, different ways of learning, the dispersive method of teaching, and a 15 list to “disperse” learning).

(Piece analysis – delay going to the piano and spend most time analysing – Comparison with the process of film making)

(How to practice aim and accuracy – looking at the LH and giving verbal instructions to the RH – Full discussion on left and right brain).

(how everyone in the forum practises – the scientific method to decide what practice routine is good and which is not. Comments on Chang book)

(Bad habits when playing/practising)

(When to use the metronome)

(how big are your hands, and does it matter? 7 x 20 minutes –  exercise/activities to strengthen the playing apparatus – ways to deal with wide chords – 3 stages of learning – Example: Chopin militaire Polonaise- scientific principles for testing practice methods – Example: Prelude in F#m from WTC1 – when to join hands and why HS – practice is improvement – the principle of “easy” – Example: Chopin’s ballade no. 4 – repeated groups)

Just the tip of the iceberg Tongue

Best wishes,
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The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)
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