\"\"
Piano Forum logo

Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard (Read 25101 times)

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
« on: October 15, 2004, 07:55:57 PM »
(this post began as a response in the How long to practice after.. (Bernhard, yours...) thread.

Here is what I came to realize (and this goes to the brutal discipline getting started with this method requires).

I had a section that I did learn after 7 tries. I kept practicing it.. At the 18 minute mark, I was thinking to myself "this isn't even close to speed".. It turns out I wasn't quite honest with myself.. I couldn't play the passage 7 times in a row without making a mistake.. Maybe once or twice, but there were flubs.   Yes I "learned it" -I knew the notes but I didn't pass the 7 repetition rule. I forced myself to cut the passage in half (even though I'd already worked on it almost 20 minutes.. I'm still getting used to the method here) and I was able to play it many more than 7 times at speed with no mistakes. I updated my log to show the modified session for reference tomorrow (more on this in a bit), and made a new session out of the other half.

I had another section that I had defined as a session, that was shorter. I was able to learn it after 7 tries. 6 minutes and 18 seconds of practicing this, I noticed I was at speed, playing w/o flubs.  Perhaps this session was a bit too short. I'm learning...

So a big part of this I'm finding, is with regard to the work we have to put individually, with our score, with our skills in mind and a pencil and paper in hand (or a computer as you'll see below). This is actually the only "hard" part of the method Bernhard suggests, and he can (and does) only point us in the right direction.  But the hard work upfront (that his students pay him to do for them) makes everything else SO INCREDIBLY EASY. I'm beginning to see why Bernhard has said "any lazy slob can learn 10 pieces in a month".   :o

It's taking the time and being brutally honest with ourselves in order that we can PROPERLY define the chunk size for each session and then PLAN how to proceed through them that takes all the upfront work.. Be organized and use a log. Even after 5 days now with a log and a timer and a lot of honesty with myself, I'm getting faster at saying "yeah, that'll be an appropriate size" chunk just by looking at the score.. the last 10 session sizes I've "guessed" by looking at the score were pretty much correct. Bernard says it over and over "try it and see". Of course I'll still be interested to hear his response on weather hitting speed during the session is important or not.

So anyway, why did I say "6 minutes and 18 seconds", what am I crazy or joking? No actually.  Check this out.

I practice on a digital piano in a home studio, with a laptop at my side for recording (I do other rock/electronica/fusion type stuff, but that's an entirely seperate world.)

Armed with all the information and thoughts I've taken from these threads and 5 days working at this method diligently, I went through my entire score and determined "right hand sessions", "left hand sessions" "hands together sessions". I then numbered them in the order that I should tackle them.  Generally it's a RH session, then a LH session, then HT session after the RH and LF sessions are mastered.  I won't know for probably another week the best way to order going from RH to LH to HT in so far as sessions in a day and sessions saved for the next day.

There are a total of 55 sessions I came up with that I have left to master before my piece is ready for the real work :) The piece is 140 measures long, and I've already put just over 3 weeks of what I'm now finding was inefficient work into it, so there were some phrases I already mastered. Nothing HT yet though. So I put them in an excel spread-sheet. 55 rows listing:
RH: 79-82
RH: 82-87
LH: 77-87

(etc.. and those above are just made up, that's the format)

I made sure there was overlap between sessions.  I then used my scanner to digitize the score, and used a screen-grabber to "cut out" chunks of the score in order to paste them into a corresponding column in the spread-sheet. (I haven't completley finished this, but it's based on a comment where Bernhard mentioned photocopying the score and using scissors to chop it up for the log, same idea only on the computer)

I put 31 days of columns out to the right (but that number could grow or shrink).. Each day column is two sub-columns "min. learned" and "min. practiced". There is also a "mastered column" that will receive a check when  I can play it perfectly on the first try of a next day, and thereby remove it from the daily rotation.

This spreadsheet sits open with a little MS Windows stop-watch utility next to it.   

I spent 2.5 hours two nights ago putting this spreadsheet together.. Well, only a few minutes putting the Excel format together, but 2.5 hours scrutinizing my score and coming up with the sessions that I thought would be appropriately sized, and then determining the order in which to do them based on my past 5 days of working through the method and getting an idea for myself of what the appropriate chunk sizes and order to work on them are. I also took into consideration the fact that my teacher requested a certain section of the piece be completed hands together next lesson, so I put the sessions that would allow for that to happen first.

This morning I got through 6 sessions (some took close to 20 minutes, some took 13-15 minutes.. one of them took 0, meaning I got it perfectly 7 times in a row on the first try) and two of them I realized should in fact be one, and one of them I realized had to be three. So I adjusted the spreadsheet. This is my learning process, the process we all have to go through that Bernhard can't define for us and days of reading and asking questions on this forum won't answer  :)

So.

Every time I sit down at the piano now (and for the foreseable future) I'll look at this spreadsheet. Whatever session is up next (that is, whatever is after the last one I worked on today because I ordered them as I saw fit) I'll start the stop watch and start the session. As soon as I've reached the "learned it again" point, I record the time in the "learned" column, reset the timer and then continue practicing it for no longer than 20 minutes total time. I stop before 20 minutes if I notice I'm playing it at speed more than 7 consecutive times w/o flubs and record whatever time that is.  In the instance above where I just wasn't getting it after 20 minutes, I re-evaluated my session size and created a new line in the spread-sheet cutting it in half.  I can use Excel to add "comments" (that popup only when rolled over) if I have any meaningful thoughts on what I did.

Tomorrow I will start all over at the beginning of the session list. If I get something right away, the "time to relearn" column will get zero minutes. (Bernhard, do you think if I get it in 0 minutes, I should practice it at all that day or is that a waste of time? I'm not sure yet) But if I do practice it more, I'll record that time. Henceforth, since that session is now mastered, it gets bumped off the list. (it's still visible on the sheet, but I change the color of the row which extends on out for 30 or whatever days) so I know I don't need to revisit it the next day or any other day.

So you could picture the grid, moving out from top left to bottom right, sessions getting bumped off the list (changing color), all the while showing me exactly where I should begin and what exactly I should work on anytime I get a chance to sit down at the piano.

So you can see, I have put in place a spreadsheet that pretty much enforces the process as I believe Bernhard has described it. It enforces the process, makes it beyond easy to know exactly what I need to work on every time I sit at the piano, it provides all of the log/journal capability AND, since I now know that I already have a clearly defined goal sitting there waiting for me ANYTIME, I'm finding I'm much more inclined to take advantage of that 15 or 20 minutes here or there that prior to putting this in place, I would have watched TV or whatever thinking "I can't practice in 15 minutes" (or not even thinking to go practice at all). This alone could add 3 or 4 sessions to a day easilly.

Why am I doing this? Because I'm insane.  8)  Just kidding. It's because as I wrote up in another thread the other day, I tried it for myself for several days in a row, and results were astonishing. I've put a month into this piece already using my intuitive method, and I've mastered more measures in the past week than I did that entire month.  Once I've finished the piece (have it memorized, playable w/o the score) I'll upload a recording of myself as well as a copy of this spreadsheet for everybody to see and hopefully use as a model, and perhaps that will give back to Bernhard a bit, the man who knows everything and asks for nothing  ;) (of course the performance will always grow as it matures don't expect too much right away performance wise!)

Of course over the next month or so this process will likely change a bit as I optimize it for myself, and the number of sessions (currently at 58) I'm guessing is going to shrink, because I think I've erred on the short side, but I'll learn if that's true or not.  I'm going to save a "snapshot" copy of the spreadsheet as it stands right now to compare how it changed by the time I've mastered the piece.  Also, to the thread the other day about "To Bernhard, Skipped Steps" - I think I know what to keep an eye out for, but if it becomes necessary, I can give each session's row in the spreadsheet a bunch of indented sub-rows containing a checklist of steps for me to repeat.

Lastely, Excel spreadsheets have "worksheets" - you get tabs along the bottom of a single file allowing you to have multiple spreadsheets in a single file. At the moment, I'm only working this single piece of music. Next week I'm going to add Bach's Sinfonia #9, and I will duplicate the format, add a new tab labeled "Sinfonia #9"  and so this Excel file will grow for every piece I'm working on.  Before starting work on the Sinfonia, of course I'll have to do all the preliminary work of deciding on sessions and what not.. Any time I have, I'll sit down at the piano, pick a piece (click a tab) and immediately know exactly what to work on.

The other night I had started doing all the mapping and session "defining" with a pencil and paper and even photocopied the score I was working on, but as I reached for the scissors and tape I thought to myself,  "Paul, what are you doing? You're a computer programmer, bust out MS Excel and make this even easier!"   ;D

I only wish there were a way to do this (tracking all the numbers) against learning a piece "the old way" - but there's no way I'm going to waste my time practicing like that anymore, and realistically, I think the only way to track time practicing in an unplanned fashion would just to be keep a running timer every time you spent time at the piano on a given piece. So unfortunately, I don't think my spreadsheet will ultimately be useful for "proof" of the benefits in any statistical manner.. but that's really not the point anyway.


Bernhard, if you can see any glaring mistakes in what I've described, please do tell!

Oh, and lastly, I know this (and other recent threads) are all about "Oh Bernhard Bernhard Bernhard!" - but I want to point out that I have learned an immense amount from Chang's book (CC) about the actual techniques of practice. Of course I have learned many similar things from Bernhard, but Chang's book goes to excruciating detail in describing what you should actually be doing within the "sessions" that the methods Bernhard describes help you to plan. Bernhard and Chang share many similar thoughts on the physical practice techniques. If these two collaborated to add to the wonderful book Chang has published, oh man, look out!


-Paul

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #1 on: October 15, 2004, 09:06:54 PM »
oh one more thing.. The only confusion I still have with regards to this plan, I think I touched on it above, is how to lay out HT sessions.  Bernhard has said elsewhere how he tries to get HT as soon as possible. I had hoped to achieve this by doing something like:

SESSION 1: RH: 1-4
SESSION 2: LH: 1-4
SESSION 3: HT: 1-4

but if I had say 4 sessions available in a day, and I just started at the top, I'd do RH, then LH as two sessions. So far soo good. But what next? The HT session that joins the two new and unmastered HS sessions? It seems I'd have to skip over the HT session becuase it doesn't make sense that I should do a HT session before each seperate hand is mastered. Or should I? Preliminary work? With the understanding that it won't reach it's "zero minutes to mastery" until at least a day or so after each seperate hand is mastered..  The alternative would be for me to put the HT session much further down in the plan, so that chances would be good that both HS sessions were mastered by the time I got to it.. But that is delaying HT perhaps too long.  Or, perhaps I'm on the right track in so far as defining the sessions, but misguided in trying to apply any particular order to them? hopefully Bernhard can shed some insight on this.

-Paul

Offline bernhard

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5078
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #2 on: October 15, 2004, 11:52:20 PM »
oh one more thing.. The only confusion I still have with regards to this plan, I think I touched on it above, is how to lay out HT sessions.  Bernhard has said elsewhere how he tries to get HT as soon as possible. I had hoped to achieve this by doing something like:

SESSION 1: RH: 1-4
SESSION 2: LH: 1-4
SESSION 3: HT: 1-4

but if I had say 4 sessions available in a day, and I just started at the top, I'd do RH, then LH as two sessions. So far soo good. But what next? The HT session that joins the two new and unmastered HS sessions? It seems I'd have to skip over the HT session becuase it doesn't make sense that I should do a HT session before each seperate hand is mastered. Or should I? Preliminary work? With the understanding that it won't reach it's "zero minutes to mastery" until at least a day or so after each seperate hand is mastered..  The alternative would be for me to put the HT session much further down in the plan, so that chances would be good that both HS sessions were mastered by the time I got to it.. But that is delaying HT perhaps too long.  Or, perhaps I'm on the right track in so far as defining the sessions, but misguided in trying to apply any particular order to them? hopefully Bernhard can shed some insight on this.

-Paul

No you should not do this way. If you spend 20 minutes on one hand you are risking injury.

Instead, alternate hands. Initially you may need to repeat the RH 10 or 20 times, and then the LH 10 or 20 times (this should take no more than 2 or 3 minutes for each hand) but soon you will be able to do just a couple of repeats on each hand, and finally alternate one time RH one time LH. Try not to do more than 30 seconds on each hand.

Ideally you should choose passages that equally challenging for both hands, otherwise one hand is not going to be working enough while the other will be overworking.

Most classical and romantic music tends to work one hand far more then the other (usually the RH). So one thing that saves a lot of time is to actually work on two different pieces at the same session, but different hands. So – as I said  in another thread – if you are going to do Chopin op. 10 no. 2 which has a very challenging RH, but a very easy LH, you should really do the separate hands session coupling the RH of op. 10 no. 2 with the LH of Op 10 no. 12 (revolutionary) which has a challenging LH but a comparatively easier RH.

So now the scheme should look like this:

Session 1: Alternate RH and LH (they may come from different parts of the same piece or even from different pieces).

Session 2: HT

Or even better:

Session 1: Alternate RH and LH, then do HT (if doing the same piece).

Of course this assumes that you are tackling a completely new passage and learning it from scratch.

If on the other hand you have already mastered the whole RH and the whole LH of a Bach invention you should still alternate hands, but it may take you one or two minutes to complete each hand. That is not a problem because there is enough variety in the full piece to protect your hands from harm (very different form 5 or 6 notes repeated 200 000 times in 20 minutes.)

And yes, do not delay HT. Join hands as soon as you can (but not before! Exception: counterpoint music – there are other exceptions as well, but you will figure it out)

By the way, I am aware of your other posts, but they will take longer answers, so I am answering the easy ones first! ;)

Best wishes,
Bernhard.

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)

Offline Abstract Harmony

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 14
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #3 on: October 16, 2004, 12:22:06 AM »
I would like to see this spreadsheet...

Offline mosis

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 268
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #4 on: October 16, 2004, 02:36:39 AM »
I was wondering what you thought about the alternating hands method, Bernhard. Normally, I play one hand until it's mastered, then the other, and then either join or leave for the next day (after mastering HS again). I did not think that switching hands was actually efficient whilst trying to master the hands.

You answered this in another post, but I'm bringing it up here. How MUCH faster should I be playing a section? What if it's already a slow section that poses no difficulty, should it be played faster anyway?

I am sorry to be a bother, but please do try to get around to answering my question in this thread. It is very important. :)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4750.0.html


Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #5 on: October 16, 2004, 01:04:54 PM »
No you should not do this way. If you spend 20 minutes on one hand you are risking injury.

Instead, alternate hands. Initially you may need to repeat the RH 10 or 20 times, and then the LH 10 or 20 times (this should take no more than 2 or 3 minutes for each hand) but soon you will be able to do just a couple of repeats on each hand, and finally alternate one time RH one time LH. Try not to do more than 30 seconds on each hand.

Arg. Now I'm confused again. I thought a given practice session was intended to work on one thing, using 20 minutes to get it to the point of 7 repetitions, and continuing practicing that one thing for the remainder of the 20 minutes.. One thing being a RH passage, a LH passage, or a HT passage.. If you try to do more than one of those things during that time, aren't you reducing the effectiveness or have I still missed the point?

Ideally you should choose passages that equally challenging for both hands, otherwise one hand is not going to be working enough while the other will be overworking.
Yeah, I think I let this idea slip my mind. Chang talks about it at length. Same with alternating hands.

The idea of working one hand from one piece and the other hand from another piece makes sense as well, I will keep that in mind once I'm working multiple pieces with these methods.
Right now I'm just working the Malaguena.


So now the scheme should look like this:

Session 1: Alternate RH and LH (they may come from different parts of the same piece or even from different pieces).

Session 2: HT

Or even better:

Session 1: Alternate RH and LH, then do HT (if doing the same piece).

Of course this assumes that you are tackling a completely new passage and learning it from scratch.

It's in this that my confusion must still lie. If I have a new passage I'm learning from scratch, and I'm going to do the "even better" session above where I alternate RH and LH and then do HT.. It would seem then, that I'm trying to master each hand seperately, as well as the hands together, simultaneously. This seems counterintuitive to me.. (though that might be the point) Would that not imply that I had to base my chunk size not on what one hand or the other could get in 7 repeats, rather, what HT could get in 7 repeats, thereby most likely making the chunk size even smaller, and in fact be the same as going directly to hands together?


If on the other hand you have already mastered the whole RH and the whole LH of a Bach invention you should still alternate hands, but it may take you one or two minutes to complete each hand. That is not a problem because there is enough variety in the full piece to protect your hands from harm (very different form 5 or 6 notes repeated 200 000 times in 20 minutes.)
Yeah, that makes sense.

And yes, do not delay HT. Join hands as soon as you can (but not before! Exception: counterpoint music – there are other exceptions as well, but you will figure it out)

See, "but not before"  - how can HT in the same session that you started HS possibly be the right time with that said?

Ok, lets take an example. The following is a 6 bar phrase taken from the Malaguena. Lets pretend for the sake argument that this is the piece in its entirety.



Lets assume that my RH can handle the RH part of bar 1 into the first beat of bar 2 based on the 7 rule.  My LH based on the 7 rule can handle bars 1 and 2 since they repeat.  How would you break this into sessions?

By the way, I am aware of your other posts, but they will take longer answers, so I am answering the easy ones first! ;)
No problem my friend! I figured as much.

I would like to see this spreadsheet...
I'll share it once I can be sure it won't mislead anybody.


Thanks!
-Paul

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #6 on: October 19, 2004, 12:19:48 PM »
just an update.. I believe Bernhard is working out some responses to my recent enquiries,  but in the meantime, I've continued to experiment based on some of his comments. I'm finding so far:

1. It may be counterproductive (for me at least) to try to plan/spreadsheet the whole piece from the start. At least w/o lots of experience doing such a thing.. Logging (in the same format I described above) what I did "today" and then planning "tomorrow" based on today seems to be working better for me at least. I still know what to do next, each time I come to the piano, because I noted the next plan before leaving the piano "last time" but I'm not so concerned about trying to work sessions that may not have been defined appropriately.

2. Although I'm still a *bit* unsure about how to know when it's too early to bring HT, I'm now trying to do HS and HT work within the same session, it seems to be working OK even though I don't quite understand how according to these methods I can be putting HT before each HS session has had at least an overnight learning period. But none-the-less, it does seem to work, especially when I am conscious of alternating hands.. more on this to come I hope.

3. Repeated Note Groups.. HOLY COW.. I tried them on this passage of fast cascading downard pentuplets (that's what you call a 5 note "triplet" right?)



It took me 57 minutes to get through the whole set of groups. The next day, MAN! the runs were so easy! It's almost hypnotic running through the breakdown of an entire set, but you really nail every single transition!  I did find myself questioning "how many repeats do I do for each group?" I basically started each group very slowly to really feel the note, then if the chord attack worked, I'd start there (infinitely fast) and then slow it down (this goes to Chang's "parallel sets" and "phase degree") and I'd just kinda repeat slowing down, speeding up until it felt mastered.. No set time or number of repeats. Some groups were easy, especially where the chord attack worked, some were hard when it involved shifting my hand to the left..)

I also did an experiement with another repeated note group set on this:


That's image shows the first of 4 repetitions (it's cut off, but that dotted line at the top is an 8va) - it repeats dropping quickly through 4 octaves. I actually broke it into groups of 12 23 34 etc... all the way up to the 1234567. I asked myself "since it repeats, do I have to do each group all the way down the 4 octaves or is it enough to go through one octave?" since my arm position moves and therefore the hand position ultimately shifts a bit, I chose to do the whole 4 octaves - anyway, since LH and RH are the same, I did each group HS (slow, infinite fast and in between) and then HT at speed..  It took me just over 3 hours to get through the entire set of groups..  My hands were not sore at this point (probably because of the way I alternated them), but I don't believe a set of groups that takes that long is appropriate (somebody correct me if I'm wrong). I tell ya, the next day though, I was able to play the entire cascading run with HT close to speed with very few flubs, something I couldn't come close to doing before working the repeated note groups. The movements and maintaining that octave shape of my hand were just so easy, suddenly I didn't really have to "think" about each of the jumps..  Also, since each of these was an octave, there was no possibility of "chord attack" or "parallel sets" between each eigth note, at least not how I understand them.  Question: do repeated note group exercises ever need to be repeated or are they a one time benefit thing?



back to practice!

-Paul

Offline bernhard

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5078
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #7 on: October 19, 2004, 05:58:37 PM »
I was wondering what you thought about the alternating hands method, Bernhard. Normally, I play one hand until it's mastered, then the other, and then either join or leave for the next day (after mastering HS again). I did not think that switching hands was actually efficient whilst trying to master the hands.

Alternating hands is essential. But you have to use a bit of common sense here. You cannot start alternating hands straight away, you must first “learn” each hand.

So let us say you have a passage to learn. Start by deciding on the size you are going to tackle by using the 7 repeat criteria. By the time you pared the size to won you can tackle (HS) you probably already mastered enough of each hand that you can start alternating hands straight away, or at least doing 3 – 4 repeats on each hand.

What you do not want to do is to spend a whole session doing just one hand.

I think that perhaps part of the confusion here is due to a lack of discrimination between two necessary stages of practice:

1.   Stage 1 – Investigative. During this stage you are simply trying to figure out what to play: the right notes at the right time, the size of the passage you can tackle efficiently, the best movements for the sound you want to produce. If you make your passage short enough, this stage does not need to take more than a few minutes – sometimes a few seconds. The end aim of this stage is to get all the technical/musical parameters figured out, so that you can go on to stage 2.

2.   Stage 2 is real practice. A lot of students stop practising when they get it “right”. But actually real practice does not end when you get it right: it starts when you finally get it right. The aim now is to ingrain on your subconscious what you have consciously figured out on stage 1. Sometimes people ask: “Ok, the size of the practise I should learn is the passage I could learn after 7 repeats. But if I did 7 repeats and learned the passage, why practise it? After all I learned it.” This argument – although very logical – confuses stage 1 and stage 2. They are different stages with different aims. Both are necessary.


So, to go back to the question of alternating hands, in stage 1 you must concentrate on each hand in isolation. But this should take only a few minutes. On stage 2 – which is the bulk of the session – you must alternate hands (unless you re doing something time consuming as repeated note-groups).

Quote
You answered this in another post, but I'm bringing it up here. How MUCH faster should I be playing a section? What if it's already a slow section that poses no difficulty, should it be played faster anyway?

Always faster than required. Even if it is a slow section.

This was one of Arrau’s favourite practice tricks. He believed (and I agree) in having a “reserve”. If you can play faster than necessary, you will be able to play the correct speed effortlessly and with great ease. As I have said now several times, in my personal opinion the overall aim of practising is to make a piece “easy”. This is of course a basic principle in sports training. I once met a sprinter, who trained by running with a rope attached to his waist and in the other end an old tire. However, once he removed the tire, he could run like the wind.

Here is another idea for fast runs: get some surgical gloves, cut the tips of the fingers (so you have the sensitivity at the tips), and practise wearing these tight surgical gloves. When you take the gloves off you will be amazed at how your fingers can fly.

What if you cannot play faster that required by the composer? Then practise as fast as you can, but always perform slower then you practise. The point here is the point I keep coming back to: Your performance should always look easy and feel effortless. If you are always at the edge of your ability, you will not be able to play well: chances of botching will be great, and you will be so stressed out by it that you will not be able to concentrate on the actual musicality.

Very slow pieces (e.g. Arvo Part’s Fur Alina, or some of Beethoven’ slow movements) which have huge phrases that must be upheld throughout the piece present specific problems that have to be tackled with specific procedures. Still they will benefit from the technical ease that comes from playing them prestissimo (try the first Movement of the Moonlight – It is quite hilarious – and it will show you that this is exactly what the 3rd mv is – or try, as Jacquies Loussier does – to play the prelude 1 of the WTC prestissimo. It is quite exhilarating – and if you can do it, palying it slow will become that much easier)

Quote
I am sorry to be a bother, but please do try to get around to answering my question in this thread. It is very important. 

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4750.0.html

Sorry it took so long – I have answered it now.

Best wishes,
Bernhard
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)

Offline bernhard

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5078
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #8 on: October 19, 2004, 06:03:17 PM »
Arg. Now I'm confused again. I thought a given practice session was intended to work on one thing, using 20 minutes to get it to the point of 7 repetitions, and continuing practicing that one thing for the remainder of the 20 minutes.. One thing being a RH passage, a LH passage, or a HT passage.. If you try to do more than one of those things during that time, aren't you reducing the effectiveness or have I still missed the point?

Yes, this is more or less correct.

Before starting a practice session you must decide what you are going to do in that practice session. This is the first priority. But how do you do it?

Here is my suggestion (which I believe at the moment of writing to be the most efficient way to go about it) in regards to a new piece you have never seen before and which is still impossible for you:

1.   Spend as much time as needed listening to CDs of the piece and analysing the score. As your experience grows you will be able to know straightaway how you should go about learning it. But at the beginning this phase may take quite a long time.  In fact most people fall back into old, inefficient practice methods because they get discouraged at this stage. But I will assume all that has been done.

2.   So you start your practice session by sight-reading (HT) through, say, the first 12 bars of the piece. This may be a laborious affair. You may make lots of mistakes, and be hesitant and slow. But it will give you an idea what you are up against. It will tell you straightaway if you can skip HS and go to HT straightaway. It will tell you where the most difficult bars are. It may even be possible to learn the whole piece in this first sight reading. But I will assume the worst. The whole thing was truly impossible, and at the end of the 12 bars (which took you a full 4 minutes to complete) you are drenched in perspiration, feeling utterly discouraged and thinking to yourself: “this is impossible – I will never be able to master this piece”. At this point, write these feelings in your practice diary. You want – in two weeks time when the piece has been mastered – to go back and read these words again. And see how wrong you were.

3.   Anyway, what are you to do? You must now decide what part of these 12 bars you are going to practise. HT is clearly out of question in this case. So start with the first two bars. Try the right hand. Repeat it 7 times. If anything is even worse than when you first started. So you know that even 2 bars is beyond your ability at the moment. This should have taken some 30 seconds – 1 minute. So move to the LH. To your surprise, by the 3rd repeat you had it mastered  (= memorised and feeling really easy and effortless). So why not increase it? you go for 4 bars, and although more challenging after 7 repeats you did master it. This took 1 – 2minutes. Now go back to the RH. Cut it in half. Instead of 2 bars, do just one. And wonders of wonders, it is completely mastered after 7 repeats!
 
4.   Now you are going to practise 1 bar on the RH and 4 bars on the LH. You still have some 15 minutes left on your session. So at this point start alternating hands. By the end of 2 minutes, there is really no more work to do on the LH. The RH is still giving you some trouble, so you must use all sorts of trickery: repeated note-groups, rhythm variations, etc. So work for a while (2 – 3 minutes) just on the RH, and when it starts to feel tired, stop and do the LH a bit. You still have 10 minutes left on you session. So go on and tackle the next four bars of the LH (they happen to be an almost exact repeat) and the next bar of the RH. So now you have mastered 2 bars on the RH and 8 bars on the LH. You still have 7 minutes left.

5.   So join hands on the first 2 bars. You will not be able to simply do it. You may have to cut the 2 bars in half, or you may succeed with the dropping notes trick. You may even have to do repeated note-groups. If it takes you 15 minutes instead of 7 and your practise session ends up being 35 minutes instead of 20, that is Ok.

6.   Now you have mastered RH bars 1 – 2, LH bars 1 – 8 and HT bars 1 – 2. Write this down in your practise journal and write down what to do tomorrow: another 8 bars on the LH (this may not be possible though – you will find out). Another 2 bars of the RH and have bars 1 – 4 HT.

7.   Come the next day, and you simply play RH bars 1 – 2. Perfect? Move on. Not perfect? Try repeating it 6 – 7 times. Perfect? Move on. No signs of improvement? Forget about your plans for this session and repeat the session of the previous day exactly without skipping any step. Do the same for LH and HT. If LH is ok, repeat the previous session only for RH and HT, and do a different LH section. In any case, the previous day you mastered the section by following those steps, so today you will as well. Except that it will take a fraction of the time: 10 minutes instead of 35 minutes. So you still have 10 minutes to tackle the 2 new bars on the RH. Maybe you will not be able to join hands to day. But that is Ok.

8.   Next day repeat the same procedure and adjust your learning/practising accordingly.

9.   And so on and so forth.

10.   Now, let us say that you mastered bars 1-2 HT on the first session, and bars 3-4 HT on the second session (HS you may have mastered far more bars). On the third session, dedicate the full session to join bars 1-2 and 3-4 HT (if you have overlapped there should be no problems: the first 2 or 3 repeats it may fall apart, but after 7 it should be fine – if it is not you need to go back and do more work on the previous sessions). There is no need for HS work at this level. As the passage you have mastered increases in size, most of your work will be HT. HS is only for the very small passages you tackle at the very beginning.
There are two very important exceptions to this guideline.

a.   Counterpoint music. In this case you must learn the whole piece HS. In fact, you should learn each voice (part) separately – if there are more than two voices – as in Bach fughes. The reason for that is musical, not technical: you must have a very accurate reperesentation in your mind of how each voice goes.

b.   Long, fast, running passages, as in Schubert’s Impromptu op 90 no. 2. In such cases you need to work a speed HS at least 30% faster than the final speed hands separately, and you cannot really achieve speed efficiently working straight on hands together. You must increase speed HS and then HT will increase automatically.

The problem I face here, is that I can see too many instances where the paradigm above may not apply. So you have to adjust and adapt this general idea. Nothing is carved in stone. But I trust this will give you the gist of it. The more you apply these ideas, the less doubts you will have, and you will get to a point where by just looking at the soccer you will simply know how to proceed. The beginning is slow though.


 
Quote
See, "but not before"  - how can HT in the same session that you started HS possibly be the right time with that said?
As soon as you mastered HS, move on to HT. Do not wait until you have the whole piece HS to start joining hands. However do not join hands if you have not completely mastered HS.
Quote
Ok, lets take an example. The following is a 6 bar phrase taken from the Malaguena. Lets pretend for the sake argument that this is the piece in its entirety.

 

Lets assume that my RH can handle the RH part of bar 1 into the first beat of bar 2 based on the 7 rule.  My LH based on the 7 rule can handle bars 1 and 2 since they repeat.  How would you break this into sessions?
Ok.

Let us also assume that I am a complete beginner with a dismal technique.

1.   My first step would be to analyse the score and notice that there is quite a lot of repetition. So how much of these six bars do I actually have to practise? On the left hand there are two groups: the first three chords (that takes care of bars 1 – 2 – 5 – 6) and chords 7 – 8 – 9 – 10 –11 – 12 (bars 3 – 4). In fact, All I have to learn are bars 2- 3 – 4. Now there are 9 chords there. I have two choices here: I can see if I can learn the whole progression after 7 repeats. If I cannot I just try four chords, and if that does not work, two chords. But there is a much better approach: just go straight on to the repeated note-groups. 9 chords is just at the limit of feasibility. There is one more thing I will do: When doing groups of two chords (the most basic groups), instead of doing the full E major chord (chord no. 1) I will do just an octave and miss the two middle notes. This simplification will allow me to concentrate fully on the accuracy of the skips – which is really the major technical problem on the left hand. As soon as I get the skips accurate, I will put the missing notes back . I am still doing just groups of two chords. This is a very tiring routine, so instead of moving on to three chord groups, I will stop, rest the left hand and move on to the right hand.

2.   Again there is a reasonable amount of material repetition on the RH. The first three chords are repeated 5 times: the third repetition with a different rhythm. After that 3rd repetition there is a group of anthore three chords which are again repeated. At this point, the two main difficulties I see in the RH are accurately skip between chords, and simply move without hesitations form chord to chord. This is an exuberant piece, so there is no place for doubts and hesitations. So I will concentrate in this moving from chord to chord to star with. For that purpose I will initially ignore the rhythm and just consider equal times for every chord (say, consider them all crochets). I will only play six chords:  Chords no. 7 – 8 – 9 – 10 – 11 – 12. (second half of bar 2 + bar 3). Mastering this sequence will imply mastery of the whole line. Again I willuse the same approach I used for the LH: Repeated chord-groups, and for the 2 chord groups I will start with octave rather than full chords. Once I get the accuracy sorted out I will complete the chords. By the time I finish 2 chord –groups, my RH should start to feel tired, so I will move on the the LH and do 3 chord groups.

3.   I will continue alternating hands as above: for every chord group I finish I change hands. Once I get the whole sequence of 9 chords in the LH and 6 chords in the RH and can move easily, smoothly and accurately form chord to chord without hesitations and at speed, I will use a metronome and make sure the rhythm is ironclad (this will be relaxed later – since the notated, metronomic rhythm is never the true rhythm – but for the moment, the sections are too small and devoid of musical context to allow for a true rhythm, so a metronome is quite important at this stage – unless you have an unfailing sense of pulse that allow you to do without the metronome).

4.   Now that I have the RH and LH sequence of chords mastered, I will learn the whole line HS. It should be straightforward, since it is just a matter of memorising the sequence in which the chord sequences I already mastered occur. One trick I may use at this stage to avoid hesitations is to repeat each individual chord several times – while I repeat them, I have time to think where to go next. This way, there is never a break or any hesitation – although this is rarely necessary if one has done the repeated note-groups routine.

5.   I should by now have the RH and the LH at speed, memorised and moving forward without hesitations. This may have taken the whole 20 minute session – or perhaps a bit more. So I will have a 5 minute break.

6.   Now I will start a new session to join hands. In this particular case I will start the session by playing through both hands (separately) a couple of minutes (alternating them). If there is any problem, then I will not do HT. I will do something else in the session, and start form scratch next day. But if everything is still under my fingers (it should be), then I will just go straight for HT by doing dropping notes. First the RH in full dropping the LH notes, and then the other way round: the LH in full dropping the RH notes. This should take about 5 – 10 minutes.

7.   This passage is now large enough to allow for a musical rendering, so the reminder 10 minutes of the sessions HT, I will try to put the musicality into it. I will be working on the rhythmic accents, on the articulation, on trying to give a sense of exuberance to the sound. Ideally I should know in my mind exactly the sound I am after, and just keep repeating and comparing the sound I am producing with the one I want. Usually if the representation in one’s mind is clear, the fingers always comply.

Next day, I will sit at the piano and go straight for this section hands together. If it is perfect, that is it, all I have to do now is keep playing it and refining my musical concept of it – no further practice (as described above) is really necessary. On the other hand if I cannot remember a thing, then I will have to go back to the very beginning and start from scratch not skipping any steps – not matter how powerful the temptation to do so. In fact it is when you start skipping steps that you start to do wrong repeats and all sorts of mistakes creep in and become habits. So it is important to keep a journal of all the steps you took – at least in the beginning – with experience you will not need such detailed instructions. Rest assured that if you follow all the steps it will take a fraction of the time to achieve mastery again.

Most likely, the next day the passage will be somewhere between these two extremes (completely forgotten and totally mastered).If so, observe carefully where the problem lies. You may be able to tackle it in isolation and not have to go through all steps again. Ultimately the final arbiter is your progress. As long you are progressing you are doing the correct thing. If you stop progressing or if everything start to consistently fall apart, then you must change what you are doing.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.



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)

Offline bernhard

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5078
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #9 on: October 19, 2004, 06:58:31 PM »
2. Although I'm still a *bit* unsure about how to know when it's too early to bring HT, I'm now trying to do HS and HT work within the same session, it seems to be working OK even though I don't quite understand how according to these methods I can be putting HT before each HS session has had at least an overnight learning period. But none-the-less, it does seem to work, especially when I am conscious of alternating hands.. more on this to come I hope.

Hands separate practice is important to isolate technical problems so that you can work on them without the added difficulty of co-ordinating both hands.

Hands together practice is important for dealing with co-ordination problems – you don’t want to do that if are still besieged by technical problems.

Hence, only do hands together once you have sorted out all technical problems with HS. Then you will be able to concentrate solely on co-ordination (not an easy task even when you have mastered HS).

At the same time, if you have no technical problems go straight to HT. There are many pieces that a beginner would have to do HT for wekks and a more advanced pianist can go straight to HT simply because he has mastered the necessary technique.

This means that HS is not obligatory, in fact do not waste time on HS unless you need to. However, if you need to never skip HS. Why?

Besides the advantage of separating technical and co-ordination problems, HS may be necessary for a completely different reason. It is with HT that you will develop “hand-memory”. And whatever goes in hand-memory stays. So you want to make sure that you never practice the wrong things with HT. Mistakes in HS are easily erased. So investigative technical work should always be done with HS. Only when you have all parameters sorted out should you proceed to HS.

However, as long as your HS is mastered, you do not need to wait until the next day to join hands. Quite the opposite, by joining hands you increase the chances that next day it will be perfect and you will not forget it, since it will now be engraved in hand memory. Does that make sense?

Quote
3. Repeated Note Groups.. HOLY COW.. I tried them on this passage of fast cascading downard pentuplets (that's what you call a 5 note "triplet" right?)

I call then “quintuplets”. But I could not care less about terminology. Call then whatever you want.

 
Quote
It took me 57 minutes to get through the whole set of groups. The next day, MAN! the runs were so easy! It's almost hypnotic running through the breakdown of an entire set, but you really nail every single transition!  I did find myself questioning "how many repeats do I do for each group?" I basically started each group very slowly to really feel the note, then if the chord attack worked, I'd start there (infinitely fast) and then slow it down (this goes to Chang's "parallel sets" and "phase degree") and I'd just kinda repeat slowing down, speeding up until it felt mastered.. No set time or number of repeats. Some groups were easy, especially where the chord attack worked, some were hard when it involved shifting my hand to the left..)

Yes, Repeated note-groups is the single most powerful routine I ever came across (I thought I had invented it, but no, someone else had already come up with it long before I touched a piano :'().

As such, it overrides the 20 minute rule. If you are going to do it, you must finish it in on session no matter how long it takes. The results are so staggering that it is worth it.

In my experience the ideal number of units is 7. That takes between 30 – 45 minutes to complete. 5 units is really the smallest group one should do, and around 12 is the maximum (or you will end up doing it the whole night!). Sometimes however – depending on the passage there is no way round it: you must do it on large number of units. There are two ways to save time:

1.   Do not use single notes as units. You can use whole bars (if the bars are mastered). Or you can use beats (likein your example of the pentuplets above, you can consider each p-entuplet as a unit, so now you have to deal with 3 units, rather than 15.

2.   You don’t need to complete the sets. Just go to the point where there is some overlap between the first and last group. For instance, in the case of 15 units, when you get to 8 note groups, the first group: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 overlaps with the 8th: 8-9-10-11-12-13-14-15. There is so much overlap in the intermediate groups that you may be able to play the whole passage straightaway. So when you reach the overlap size try to do the whole section. You may be able to do it, and in this way save a lot of time. If you cannot, do 9-note groups and try again. Usually you will not need to go all the way to 15 note groups.

Quote
I also did an experiement with another repeated note group set on this:
 

That's image shows the first of 4 repetitions (it's cut off, but that dotted line at the top is an 8va) - it repeats dropping quickly through 4 octaves. I actually broke it into groups of 12 23 34 etc... all the way up to the 1234567. I asked myself "since it repeats, do I have to do each group all the way down the 4 octaves or is it enough to go through one octave?" since my arm position moves and therefore the hand position ultimately shifts a bit, I chose to do the whole 4 octaves - anyway, since LH and RH are the same, I did each group HS (slow, infinite fast and in between) and then HT at speed..  It took me just over 3 hours to get through the entire set of groups..  My hands were not sore at this point (probably because of the way I alternated them), but I don't believe a set of groups that takes that long is appropriate (somebody correct me if I'm wrong). I tell ya, the next day though, I was able to play the entire cascading run with HT close to speed with very few flubs, something I couldn't come close to doing before working the repeated note groups. The movements and maintaining that octave shape of my hand were just so easy, suddenly I didn't really have to "think" about each of the jumps..  Also, since each of these was an octave, there was no possibility of "chord attack" or "parallel sets" between each eigth note, at least not how I understand them.  Question: do repeated note group exercises ever need to be repeated or are they a one time benefit thing?

Yes, you may not need to do this for repeated passages even if they are an octave apart. (But no harm will come from doing it).

Also these days I reserve repeated note-groups only from truly impossible passages. On the other hand, if takes 3 hours, so be it. the saving in time compared to any other method is so ludicrous that it is worth every second.

And yes, usually it is a one-off thing. Some passages may be so difficult (for you) that you may need to repeat it the next day and even the next – but I myself never met any passage that needed more than 3 repeats to be mastered. And 90% were mastered like forever in the first go. The whole idea is not to do more work than strictly necessary. Pianists can be very insecure (just watch Mosis! ;D). Even if you neglect a piece for a few years, if you learned it this way, chances are that you will not forget it and if you do, going through the same process (in a fraction of the time) will bring it back.

And yes, there is no fixed number of repeats for each group: you must repeat until you master (= becomes easy). And that is the beauty of it: you will be practising more the bits that actually need more practice, and practising less the easy bits – exactly as it should be.

Also, you just had the answer to why you should alternate hands: you can practise for 3 hours without tiredness or risk of injury. :D

I do not think I have anything else to teach you. 8)

Wonderful! :D

Best wishes,
Bernhard.



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)

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #10 on: October 19, 2004, 07:39:34 PM »
Quote
However, as long as your HS is mastered, you do not need to wait until the next day to join hands. Quite the opposite, by joining hands you increase the chances that next day it will be perfect and you will not forget it, since it will now be engraved in hand memory. Does that make sense?


YES! Finally it does.  If I get the HT work from the end of yesterday correct first thing today, then I never have to repeat the HS sessions that it took to get there, even if that means they were only executed that first day, because I got HT right the 2nd day. THAT IS THE POINT! The point which has alluded me until now. I've kept thinking that something about the "psychology" of this whole approach requires me to learn and relearn the HS sessions before ever attempting to put them together, so that HS would be long term mastered and then HT would see a similar process. As if HS and HT are two completely unrelated entities.  So the test on day 2 is not weather each HS session is mastered, rather, if HT from yesterday is mastered. It is only if HT fails on day 2 that I need to start from scratch with HS, otherwise, there is no need to do any further HS work, because HT already works, so right to being musical with it.  Why did it take so long for this to click for me?? Hopefully this dialog helps it click for others in a fraction of the time.

Quote
Most likely, the next day the passage will be somewhere between these two extremes (completely forgotten and totally mastered).If so, observe carefully where the problem lies. You may be able to tackle it in isolation and not have to go through all steps again. Ultimately the final arbiter is your progress. As long you are progressing you are doing the correct thing. If you stop progressing or if everything start to consistently fall apart, then you must change what you are doing.
Gotcha!


Quote
Yes, Repeated note-groups is the single most powerful routine I ever came across (I thought I had invented it, but no, someone else had already come up with it long before I touched a piano ).

As such, it overrides the 20 minute rule. If you are going to do it, you must finish it in on session no matter how long it takes. The results are so staggering that it is worth it.
I'm going to officially give you full credit Bernhard ;) So I am correct in my experiment - I can apply the repeated note group technique to any passage I feel the need for, as long as I have the time to complete it in one sitting. From other descriptions of the process elsewhere in these forums, I had the idea it was reserved to single note arpeggio type runs. This technique is staggering indeed! Even moreso than all the other topics of this method. You can spend 3-4 days trying the organization and session planning and 7/20 rule, comparing to "the old way" etc. and ultimately see the benefits in the end. But 50 minutes on a well defined repeated note group exercise and tomorrow you're like "HOLY CRAP!" For anybody reading who hasn't tried it, find yourself a tough passage and a free hour and go at it, it'll blow you away.

Quote
I do not think I have anything else to teach you.
You sir, have completely, and utterly blown my mind  :o I thank you!

Oh, just an aside, perhaps food for thought.
1. I'm sure everything you described above exists elsewhere in these forums.
2. I've been pretty exhaustive in trying to seek it all out and "order it" in my mind from this web/circular format.
3. Yet the very core of the method alluded me until 2 weeks of experimenting on my own, and several days of back and forth dialog.

Why? Perhaps some incentive for you to begin on a book? ;)

oh and ps. I'm not sure there is need for you to worry about that Sinfonia PM I sent you last week unless you feel there is more to add specifically because of the style.


I'll keep this thread updated with my thoughts/progress.. My spreadsheet of course will act as a daily logger and "tomorrow planner" just as described originally.

Phew. I feel much better now   8)

-Paul


Offline mosis

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 268
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #11 on: October 19, 2004, 07:47:55 PM »
Mound,

Quote
3. Repeated Note Groups.. HOLY COW.. I tried them on this passage of fast cascading downard pentuplets (that's what you call a 5 note "triplet" right?)

It took me 57 minutes to get through the whole set of groups. The next day, MAN! the runs were so easy! It's almost hypnotic running through the breakdown of an entire set, but you really nail every single transition!  I did find myself questioning "how many repeats do I do for each group?" I basically started each group very slowly to really feel the note, then if the chord attack worked, I'd start there (infinitely fast) and then slow it down (this goes to Chang's "parallel sets" and "phase degree") and I'd just kinda repeat slowing down, speeding up until it felt mastered.. No set time or number of repeats. Some groups were easy, especially where the chord attack worked, some were hard when it involved shifting my hand to the left..)

Can you please detail how you went about using repeated note groups to conquer this passage? I am facing a passage of similar difficulty, and I am not sure if I am going about it the right way.

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #12 on: October 19, 2004, 08:15:45 PM »
the cascading quintuplets? I did it exactly as Bernhard has described numerous times elsewhere.

if I number the notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9  10 11 12 13 14 15

I did these groups:

1 2
2 3
3 4
4 5
5 6
6 7
7 8
8 9
9 10
10 11
11 12
13 14
14 15

1 2 3
2 3 4
4 5 6
6 7 8
7 8 9
8 9 10
9 10 11
10 11 12
11 12 13
12 13 14
13 14 15

1 2 3 4
2 3 4 5
3 4 5 6
4 5 6 7
5 6 7 8
6 7 8 9
7 8 9 10
8 9 10 11
9 10 11 12
10 11 12 13
11 12 13 14
12 13 14 15

1 2 3 4 5
2 3 4 5 6
3 4 5 6 7
4 5 6 7 8
5 6 7 8 9
6 7 8 9 10
7 8 9 10 11
8 9 10 11 12
9 10 11 12 13
10 11 12 13 14
11 12 13 14 15

1 2 3 4 5 6
2 3 4 5 6 7
3 4 5 6 7 8
4 5 6 7 8 9
5 6 7 8 9 10
6 7 8 9 10 11
7 8 9 10 11 12
8 9 10 11 12 13
9 10 11 12 13 14
10 11 12 13 14 15


see how that breaks down? Then, for each group (that is, each line above) you use the various techniques to play through them, repeating the number of times necessary to master it.  Look at Reply #3 in this thread for details on how to practice each group:
http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2449.msg21217/topicseen.html#msg21217

So you can see how it could take so long to get through the entire "set" of groups, so make sure you have time before you start, because you have to make it through the entire set in one sitting.. (be sure to alternate hands and use any possible time savers as described by Bernhard that are suitable for your particular passage)

(oh, and that set isn't something that you have to "write out" or anything, you basically are starting with a "group" of 2 notes, mastering that group, and then starting on the 2nd note and doing the next group of 2 notes (thereby having overlap) and repeating that until you've made it through the whole passage. Then you start with 3 note groups, and do the same thing.. See how you end mastering every single note and every single transition between every single note?

Who woulda thought!



cya!
-Paul

Offline mosis

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 268
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #13 on: October 19, 2004, 09:17:32 PM »
Hmm, I was thinking that you would play one parallel set, then the second, then the second and third, then the first second and third.

The passage I am referring to is the run on the last page of Chopin's 9/1 Nocturne (the dodecatuplet). There are 5 very logical parallel sets that may be played. Should I just practice jumping between these two, are work on every single not seperately? I'm not sure that will be necessary.

Essentially, I am wondering when the chord attack should be used, and then repeated note groups should be used. :/

Oh, and Paul, did you end up playing notes 1-15 at the end of that session? Isn't that the ultimate goal?

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #14 on: October 19, 2004, 09:50:30 PM »
Hmm, I was thinking that you would play one parallel set, then the second, then the second and third, then the first second and third.
Judging  from what Bernard said above, you could if each parallel set was already mastered.

Quote
Oh, and Paul, did you end up playing notes 1-15 at the end of that session? Isn't that the ultimate goal?

yup!


-paul

Offline steven

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 29
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #15 on: October 20, 2004, 05:53:08 AM »
paul,
it's this the same to learn a piece HT ?
Let say our piece is 20 mesures.
You do as above like 1-2; 2-3; 3-4,...
In fact the same as above but not with notes but with mesures ?

thx
Steven

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #16 on: October 20, 2004, 11:06:06 AM »
Hmm, I was thinking that you would play one parallel set, then the second, then the second and third, then the first second and third.

by the way - that is what this is. Each of those groups that can be played infinitely fast by the chord attack is a parallel set. regardless if there are 2,3,4 or 5 notes within it.

I believe the samllest unit you should subdivide the full passage for repeated note groups is the smallest part you already have mastered.. so in my example above with the 3 quintuplets, if I already had the 1 2 3 4 5 mastered, I wouldn't have to break it into 1 2, 2 3, 3 4 etc.. I could go right to the 56  to get the hand shift.. or maybe 456 to get more motion preceeding it.. I think you have to experiment with it.

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #17 on: October 20, 2004, 11:07:19 AM »
paul,
it's this the same to learn a piece HT ?
Let say our piece is 20 mesures.
You do as above like 1-2; 2-3; 3-4,...
In fact the same as above but not with notes but with mesures ?

thx
Steven

I'm not sure I know what you're asking.. Can you learn a whole piece HT by using lots of repeated chord groups? I don't know, maybe you could.. It doesn't seem like a good approach to me.. You have to master each measure first, which requires first mastering HS in manageable chunks, which ultimately requires following the methods as outlined by Bernhard which includes the repeated note groups for mastery of difficult passages, not a piece in its entirety..

-Paul

Offline mosis

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 268
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #18 on: October 20, 2004, 04:46:37 PM »
Hmm, I was thinking that you would play one parallel set, then the second, then the second and third, then the first second and third.

by the way - that is what this is. Each of those groups that can be played infinitely fast by the chord attack is a parallel set. regardless if there are 2,3,4 or 5 notes within it.

I believe the samllest unit you should subdivide the full passage for repeated note groups is the smallest part you already have mastered.. so in my example above with the 3 quintuplets, if I already had the 1 2 3 4 5 mastered, I wouldn't have to break it into 1 2, 2 3, 3 4 etc.. I could go right to the 56  to get the hand shift.. or maybe 456 to get more motion preceeding it.. I think you have to experiment with it.

Yes, I understand this. It is what I was referring to. Why would you waste time playing 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-5, 1-2-3, 2-3-4, 3-4-5, 1-2-3-4, 2-3-4-5, 1-2-3-4-5, if 1-5 can be played as one single parallel set? Then you would only have to practice jumping from [1/2/3/4/5] to [6/7/8/9/10], and [6/7/8/9/10] to [11/12/13/14/15]. This would save you a LOT of time, would it not?

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #19 on: October 20, 2004, 06:06:47 PM »
This would save you a LOT of time, would it not?

It certainly would! Just be sure the shortcut is appropriate. If you have 1245 mastered, then use that as a unit, if not (be honest) then do the complete set


Offline mosis

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 268
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #20 on: October 20, 2004, 07:05:07 PM »
What do you mean "if you have it mastered?" How can you not have a chord mastered? You just play all the notes at the same time!

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #21 on: October 20, 2004, 07:50:28 PM »
I must have misunderstood something.. Are you talking about repeated chord group sets or repeated note group sets?


Offline steven

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 29
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #22 on: October 20, 2004, 07:59:20 PM »
Another thing,
maybe, not maybe but certain already 1000 said in this forum....i still don' t know...
Can anyone tell me when "mastered", do you mean then by memory ?

thx
steven

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #23 on: October 20, 2004, 08:49:40 PM »
Please read (or re-read) the responses from CC and Bernhard in this thread:

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4750.0.html

There they go into detail to answer just that question.

-Paul


Offline mosis

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 268
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #24 on: October 20, 2004, 11:12:49 PM »
I must have misunderstood something.. Are you talking about repeated chord group sets or repeated note group sets?



What's the difference?

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #25 on: October 21, 2004, 02:59:26 PM »
What's the difference?

look above in my Reply #6 at those images cut out of a score.. a repeated note group set would be for the first passage -3 downward quintuplets.. a repeated chord group set would be used for the 2nd..

That's how I was using the term at least.  Nothing to do with the "chord attack" or parallel set terminology.

-Paul

Offline mosis

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 268
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #26 on: October 21, 2004, 07:08:36 PM »

look above in my Reply #6 at those images cut out of a score.. a repeated note group set would be for the first passage -3 downward quintuplets.. a repeated chord group set would be used for the 2nd..

That's how I was using the term at least.  Nothing to do with the "chord attack" or parallel set terminology.

-Paul

Okay, so I am unaware of the repeated chord group set. What is that, and how did you go about applying it to that passage?

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #27 on: October 21, 2004, 07:26:10 PM »
Okay, so I am unaware of the repeated chord group set. What is that, and how did you go about applying it to that passage?

I think you're overthinking this  ;D

If for example I have a fast passage to learn that consists of 15 single notes:



Then I could tackle it with a set consisting of groups of repeated notes ("Repeated Note Group Set") - that is, I am defining groups of repeated notes.. (single notes) as I outlined above in Reply #12.

With this passage however:


The passage consists of chords (well, 2 note chords in each hand at least) - not single notes (like an arpeggio type thing).. therefore, if I wanted to do a "repeated group set" to learn that passage,  it would be a set of repeated CHORDS, not individual notes.  It could be any passage really, say you had 4-note chords in the right hand, and the chord changed every beat for 4 beats.. If you labeled each CHORD 1 2 3 4 then the repated chord group set would be:

1 2
2 3
3 4
1 2 3
2 3 4
1 2 3 4

The practice technique is exactly the same, I just called it a repeated chord group set because the passage consisted of chords, rather than single notes..  call it whatever you like, the point is to get through the whole set.  get it?

 :)
-Paul

Offline mosis

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 268
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #28 on: October 21, 2004, 07:42:33 PM »

I think you're overthinking this  ;D

If for example I have a fast passage to learn that consists of 15 single notes:



Then I could tackle it with a set consisting of groups of repeated notes ("Repeated Note Group Set") - that is, I am defining groups of repeated notes.. (single notes) as I outlined above in Reply #12.

With this passage however:


The passage consists of chords (well, 2 note chords in each hand at least) - not single notes (like an arpeggio type thing).. therefore, if I wanted to do a "repeated group set" to learn that passage,  it would be a set of repeated CHORDS, not individual notes.  It could be any passage really, say you had 4-note chords in the right hand, and the chord changed every beat for 4 beats.. If you labeled each CHORD 1 2 3 4 then the repated chord group set would be:

1 2
2 3
3 4
1 2 3
2 3 4
1 2 3 4

The practice technique is exactly the same, I just called it a repeated chord group set because the passage consisted of chords, rather than single notes..  call it whatever you like, the point is to get through the whole set.  get it?

 :)
-Paul

See, that's what I was thinking you meant, but my question specifically pertains to your quintuplet runs. Let us use the first pentuplet as an example, ignoring the first C#.

The remaining four notes are D natural, C#, G#, and E#. You were practising D-C#, C#-G#, G#-E#, and so on and so forth. Would it not be more practical to practice just moving your hand from the D/C#/G#/E# chord to the next C#, and then to the next chord, et cetera? By blocking the chord (parallel sets, chord attack, WHATEVER) you're already playing all those notes at infinite speed. The real difficulty is displacing the hand, so what's the point of practising two notes that can be practised as a part of an entire chord?

Do you see the point I am getting at now?

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #29 on: October 21, 2004, 08:08:59 PM »
See, that's what I was thinking you meant, but my question specifically pertains to your quintuplet runs.
Gotcha.. Yes, then, I used a repeated NOTE group set to tackle this.

Quote
Let us use the first pentuplet as an example, ignoring the first C#.

Ok, but why ignore the C#?  That's actually the most important note of them all if you take into consideration how it should be phrased! If you were only allowed to keep one of those 5 notes in each group, it'd have to be the C#.

Quote
The remaining four notes are D natural, C#, G#, and E#. You were practising D-C#, C#-G#, G#-E#, and so on and so forth. Would it not be more practical to practice just moving your hand from the D/C#/G#/E# chord to the next C#, and then to the next chord, et cetera? By blocking the chord (parallel sets, chord attack, WHATEVER) you're already playing all those notes at infinite speed. The real difficulty is displacing the hand, so what's the point of practising two notes that can be practised as a part of an entire chord?

You are exactly correct, and in fact I did spend some time practicing it just like that - with my 4th finger C#, 5th on D, 2nd on G# and 1st on E#. blocked chord/chord attack yes, infinitely fast and practicing only the lateral shift of my hand to the left.  You are right, the real difficulty is in displacing the hand. But back to what I said way back in this thread, practicing only the hand shift is an OK short-cut IF, and only if you have that pentuplet mastered. Can you play it infinitely fast? You can't do a straight up chord attack on that whole block, because the C# is sounded twice. That goes back to your nonchalantely "forgetting about" the initial C#.  You have to quickly alternate from C# to D back to C# and then down through the other 3 notes and then do the hand shift. Perhaps you can execute this perfectly, and if so, jump right into working on the hand shift.

I was actually able to get those 5 notes fairly well, and I did find myself going right to working on the shift..  And when I got pretty good at the shift itself, I found that when flying into it from the pentuplet, it still sucked.  The phrasing was all wrong and there was a pause.  This is becuase of the lack of continuity in strictly shifing a blocked chord.  So I stopped myself and said "Paul, are you sure you have this pentuplet mastered?". So that moment of honesty, coupled with the fact that just two days prior I had learned about the repeated note group technique and wanted an excuse to try it,  prompted me to perform the entire set through all 15 notes. The payoff was enormous. I can fly through that run now, accenting that C#, phrasing the whole run musically w/o flubbing on that fast shift to the 4th finger on the next C# going downward.

So did I have to do the entire group? No.. I don't have to do anything. I chose to in an attempt to solve a specific problem that I was having. 8)

Hope this helps!

-Paul

Offline mosis

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 268
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #30 on: October 22, 2004, 02:03:27 AM »
I get what you mean now. I removed the C# because if you included the C#, it is no longer a parallel set. Like you said, you go from C# to D to C#, so I would practice the C#, and then the chord, et cetera.

I was simply asking what Bernhard was referring to above. Instead of 15 note groups, use the quintuplets as one unit, to make 3. Much easier. :)


Offline dorfmouse

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 208
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #31 on: October 23, 2004, 01:06:19 PM »
Many, many thanks for this forum in general and to these contributers, especially Bernhard, Paul and Mound; also for similar discussions re. Bernhard and Chang's ideas on other threads. It'd be great if they were all in one place for newbies like me who are not great at finding the existing links. I'm sure many others are finding your thoughts of great value and thinking "Why didn't I know this years ago?"
A book, a book, yes please! I volunteer to help proofread!
"I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."
W.B. Yeats

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #32 on: October 23, 2004, 03:09:09 PM »
Many, many thanks for this forum in general and to these contributers, especially Bernhard, Paul and Mound;

 :D

PAUL = MOUND = ME !

Real thanks go to Bernhard!

Quote
A book, a book, yes please! I volunteer to help proofread!
Yeah, a book would be wonderful. Very time consuming I'm sure.

It seems, I could be mistaken, but since the software change on the forum, more of Bernhards posts have had lots of links in them.
Check out Reply #4 here:

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4901.0.html


-Paul (aka. Mound)

Offline bernhard

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5078
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #33 on: October 23, 2004, 11:46:10 PM »

YES! Finally it does.  If I get the HT work from the end of yesterday correct first thing today, then I never have to repeat the HS sessions that it took to get there, even if that means they were only executed that first day, because I got HT right the 2nd day. THAT IS THE POINT! The point which has alluded me until now. I've kept thinking that something about the "psychology" of this whole approach requires me to learn and relearn the HS sessions before ever attempting to put them together, so that HS would be long term mastered and then HT would see a similar process. As if HS and HT are two completely unrelated entities.  So the test on day 2 is not weather each HS session is mastered, rather, if HT from yesterday is mastered. It is only if HT fails on day 2 that I need to start from scratch with HS, otherwise, there is no need to do any further HS work, because HT already works, so right to being musical with it.  Why did it take so long for this to click for me?? Hopefully this dialog helps it click for others in a fraction of the time.




Exactly. You understood perfectly. :D
Quote
You sir, have completely, and utterly blown my mind   I thank you!

Don’t mention it, nothing gives me more pleasure than blowing people’s minds. ;D

Quote
Oh, just an aside, perhaps food for thought.
1. I'm sure everything you described above exists elsewhere in these forums.
2. I've been pretty exhaustive in trying to seek it all out and "order it" in my mind from this web/circular format.
3. Yet the very core of the method alluded me until 2 weeks of experimenting on my own, and several days of back and forth dialog.

Why? Perhaps some incentive for you to begin on a book? 

Writing a book is hardly the problem. Where are the willing publishers? :'(

Quote
oh and ps. I'm not sure there is need for you to worry about that Sinfonia PM I sent you last week unless you feel there is more to add specifically because of the style.

Have a look here:

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/dmitrismirnov/3part.htm

Best wishes,
Bernhard.

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)

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #34 on: October 24, 2004, 12:22:36 AM »
Exactly. You understood perfectly. :D
Quote
And I tell you what, now that I do understand it, I'm making so much progress!

Writing a book is hardly the problem. Where are the willing publishers? :'(

Publishers?? Who  needs publishers?? We've got the INTERNET! (just look at Chang's book) -  I think word would spread!


Thanks for the Sinfonia link!

-Paul

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #35 on: October 25, 2004, 11:48:15 AM »
Ok so just a progress update. The spreadsheet is gone, that just didn't work (not in that format, I have ideas for a better one) - I'm keeping a running log in Notepad and it basically looks like this:

Date
   Session 1:
   Goal:
        Master HT: 76-79 at speed.
   Steps:
        RH: 76-79
        LH: 77-69
   Conclusion:
       Goal met!


(I just made that up, it's a bit more indepth) - but I found that I was still allowing myself to skip stuff, so I specifically outline a goal for each session, not simply what to work on, but what specifically is the goal, and then did I accomplish it, if not, why and what steps do I take to fix it.

So  now I'm finding myself with many large areas of the score "learned" - that is, I know the notes, they are memorized. Keep in mind I worked on some big chunks of this before I started working on these practice techniques.  Anyway, there are large chunks that I "know" - and can execute at moderate speeds 7 or more times w/o too many flubs, but it's not at speed in many areas.

Does this mean I've done things wrong? Do I need to tear it all apart again into small pieces and "remaster" them to bring them to speed, or is this lack of overall speed a natural point to be at once large passages have been learned and assembled?

I do think I'm going to take an hour, as a session, and attempt to play through the entire score HT (even though some spots I haven't yet gotten to) and then re-evaluate my progress at this point, and determine which areas I need to kinda start over on.. Does this sound like a natural progression or does the fact that everything that I've learned isn't at speed mean I've done something terribly wrong?


thanks!
-Paul
       
           


Offline mosis

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 268
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #36 on: October 25, 2004, 03:59:33 PM »
  Anyway, there are large chunks that I "know" - and can execute at moderate speeds 7 or more times w/o too many flubs, but it's not at speed in many areas.    


I've wondered the same thing as well. I try to get the small chunks up to speed, though sometimes it takes quite a bit of time.

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #37 on: October 25, 2004, 10:22:41 PM »
Ok, I took a session to "re-evaluate" my progress... What I found was interesting indeed. I basically tried to play the whole piece HT from memory, with the score there as an aid so I could take notes of measures (even though I had no doubts that it wasn't ready for that, it was just as a re-evaluation)

The only chunks I successfully made it through at speed and "musically" were the chunks (I'm talking anywhere from 8-20 measure chunks here) to which I diligently applied the practice techniques that Bernhard has taught me. There are a few contained therein that do need work, I suspect because I was guility of skipping steps or not being brutally honest with myself about appropriate chunk size.

Other very large chunks are chunks that I had been working on before applying these techniques. 

Anyway, at this moment, I do not have a plan for my next session. I think in a sense it's time to "start over" (which I do not see as a failure, because I am using this piece to learn these practice techniques, so any lesson learned is a good one)

I'd say 80% of the score I have "learned". The other 20% I simply haven't gotten to yet. Of the learned parts, probably 30% were learned through Bernhard's method and as I said, they came off quite well! These chunks are not on my new "todo" list. The other 50% of that just didn't work. Yes, I knew the analysis, I knew fingerings and I could get to the notes, even while not looking at my hands (but having to look at the score) but not in time, not at speed, yes, with good rhythm if I did it slow. This is material that I either worked on before using these new techniques, or I must have failed at my implementation of these techniques by not being truly honest with my passage sizes.

Now I've logged all the spots that obviously need work.  I guess my plan then is to start from square one so to speak, at the beginning, as if this 50% is entirely new to me, starting HS, determine a size I can play properly (at speed, no flubs, good rhythm) and practice that, then put hands together.. Now, having already been through alot of this, I imagine I'll be working through HS sessions and getting HT sessions mastered pretty quickly since so much of the investigative work has already been done.

What's my question? I'm not sure if I have one! Maybe only to "how does this 7/20 psychology work/how must I alter it when the material is not in fact brand new?" 


-Paul

Offline Mycroft

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 37
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #38 on: October 26, 2004, 05:01:44 AM »
From what I've read so far, it works exactly the same except you make it throught the material much, much faster than truly "brand new".

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #39 on: October 27, 2004, 01:41:58 PM »
Well, last night I performed this piece in its entirely, at speed, flawlessly.

and then I woke up  :D

yes, I'm dreaming my piece now. I guess that means it's getting there!

-Paul

Offline Rockitman

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 83
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #40 on: October 27, 2004, 10:29:23 PM »
I too am experimenting with these memorization techniques.  I have come across a problem I was hoping somebody might be able to help on. 
When I get a small passage memorized, I play it without looking at the keyboard, I might even have my eyes closed.  But as soon as I look down at the keyboard and watch my fingers, it all falls apart.  I don't get it.  What am I missing here? 
I'd love to be able to look at my hands or nothing at all while I'm playing.

Offline bernhard

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5078
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #41 on: October 28, 2004, 12:20:04 PM »
I too am experimenting with these memorization techniques.  I have come across a problem I was hoping somebody might be able to help on. 
When I get a small passage memorized, I play it without looking at the keyboard, I might even have my eyes closed.  But as soon as I look down at the keyboard and watch my fingers, it all falls apart.  I don't get it.  What am I missing here? 
I'd love to be able to look at my hands or nothing at all while I'm playing.

You are not missing anything. This is normal.

Here is the general idea:

1.   You can only keep in consciousness 7± 2 items. Most people have trouble keeping 2 or 3. Take the feeling (pressure) of your feet on the ground. Until I mentioned it, you were probably unconscious of this feeling. But just because you are unconscious of it, it does not mean that it is not there. However, the moment you became conscious of it, in order for it to become conscious, another item that was in you conscious mind had to be moved to the unconscious to make place for it. So now you are conscious of your feet, but something has disappeared from your consciousness. You will not even notice it (it has gone unconscious!).

2.   Piano playing is highly complex – not complicated – but complex – which means that it consists of a myriad of separate skills that have to be learned independently and then work in co-ordination. You cannot pay conscious attention to all of its aspects. So the procedure is always the same: you must drill (through correct repetition) a single aspect of piano playing until it can be done (correctly) by your unconscious mind. During this drill period is imperative that you put all of your consciousness, focus and attention into it – the consequence of not doing so is that you will train your unconscious do to the wrong thing, and once it is there, it is very difficult to dislodge. However, once it is correctly learned by the unconscious, then, that is it! Move on to another aspect and put your full attention in the new aspect, because the old one will be taken care of by the unconscious.

3.   Eventually you will be doing 99% of piano playing on automatic pilot, and putting your conscious attention on just 1%. It is really up to you where you want to put this 1%. Usually one directs it towards musicality and interpretation leaving the more “mechanical” and “technical” (in the more limited sense of the word) aspect to be taken care by the unconscious. As long as your automatic pilot has been properly programmed you will have no problems. But if you cut a lot of corners (as we all do) at the learning stages of a piece, then your playing will always be inferior. It is also possible (and pianists do that when they get at passages that are particularly difficult for them) to switch your conscious attention form musicality to technique when you get to that difficult section. This is easily spotted by the change in sound and in body language of the pianist: we can see and hear that in that particular passage he is sweating. Hence the main aim of practice should be to make it easy. Until you succeeded you cannot say you have truly mastered a piece. Interestingly enough, at this level – where everything is easy – you may make lots of mistakes and they will not matter. Some pianists may have the musicality of a piece so ingrained that they may not even need to apply their consciousness to it. In fact, they play and everything comes form the unconscious. As they play their conscious mind can be thinking about dinner, about their last holidays, or simply they are taken by the music they are producing to whatever place it takes them. Typically such pianists after the concert ( who is usually superb) cannot even remember what they played – it is as if they had played in trance.

4.   So here is what is happening to you: You may have memorised the sound of the piece, you may have memorised the feel (touch) of the keys, you may have even memorised the score. But you have never bothered to look at the keys. So when you do, this is information of a complete new character. Now you are seeing what your fingers and movements look like – the distances they have to travel – the keys and key patterns they have to press. All this new information must be programmed into your unconscious, and must be coordinated with the information already there. This of course throws the spanner in the works, and everything comes to a grinding halt.

5.   We should all learn to play looking at the keys. We should also learn to play not looking at the keys (or with eyes closed). We should learn to play without looking at the keys and with eyes glued to the score following the notes (a very different proposition from playing with eyes closed). Everyone who plays from memory experiences difficulty if they suddenly must follow the score. Conversely, a lot of people who look at the score are actually playing from memory (in certain pieces it is simply impossible to read at the speed you are playing), however, their memory disappears altogether the moment you take the score away. So these are all unnecessary limitations that we impose ourselves mostly from lazyness (once you can do something well it is almost impossible to overcome to resistance to do the same thing in a different way at which you suck).

6.   It is at the little chunk stage of learning that you should be ingraining all of these different strategies. Memorising, looking at the keys, playing with closed eyes, looking at the score, actually reading the music, investigating movement. When you are dealing with a couple of bars this is easy and will actually add interest and fascination to your practice. The worst one can do when practising is blind repetition – unfortunately a widespread and common practice.


I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
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)

Offline Bob

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 15965
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #42 on: October 29, 2004, 02:56:30 AM »
Paul, did you ever post that excel file?  Or can you email me one?  Thanks, Bob smalltown_music@yahoo.com
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #43 on: October 29, 2004, 10:47:51 AM »
No, as you can see from the various updates I've posted, I have scrapped the Excel file. The excel file was a result of my trying to intellectualize this process before actually putting it into place. I found that trying to map out all the practice sessions for the whole piece ahead of time simply didn't work. I am now simply keeping a running log in Notepad, as I finish sessions "today" I simultaneously map out sessions for "tomorrow", each "session plan" being:

GOAL:
STEPS:
CONCLUSION:

-Paul

Offline mosis

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 268
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #44 on: October 29, 2004, 04:49:12 PM »
I agree with mound. I also tried to lay out all of the practice sessions for all of my pieces ahead of time, and I find that I'm altering from this path a lot. For example, I would write down that I want to accomplish bars 1-4, but it turns out that I can only get 3 bars of the right hand down, and 6 or 7 bars with the left hand. Of course, this deviates slightly from my original goal (but I am still progressing).

I also laid out which bars I would join when for "musical" practice, but it turns out I usually learn more bars than the planned amount and have a greater section to practice musically. This of course, renders much of the chart absolutely useless (mound used Excel to create his. I did mine by hand in my piano note book.)

So try to get an idea of how the piece should be learned, but don't worry about specific practice sessions right off the bat. They will be altered for sure.

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #45 on: October 29, 2004, 07:15:59 PM »
I think after we get more experience with each subsequent piece, we'll get better at mapping out a piece from the start, but I'm not even sure if that would ever really be necessary. But for now, it's much more efficient to use the "7 rule" to figure out a passage, work on it as Bernhard has exhaustively described, determine progress and then immediately log what tomorrow should begin with. For me each session plan is stated as a goal and steps, and upon completion, I log my conclusions and then copy/paste the session into tomorrow's plan or adapt it as necessary. Each day I'm getting 6-7 sessions in, and by the time I go to bed at night, I have 6-7 sessions planned for "tomorrow". So the very first day of course you're kinda diving in blind, but after day 1, you will have your work planned.  This approach not only facilitates, but implies adaptation.

-Paul

Offline Neus

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 2
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #46 on: October 30, 2004, 08:24:59 AM »
At the very beginning of reading about this method I thought it would be stressing. You know ..  analyse, make chunks of 7 repetions lenght, record time, minutes. But it is far from stressing, on the contrary, it is relaxing. As Paul said, it is easier because you know before hand what you have to practice next. And having as little time available as I have it means a much better time/benefit ratio.

Ciao

Neus

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #47 on: October 30, 2004, 12:56:08 PM »
hi neus!

yeah, no stress involved, if anything, it removes stress from practice because every 20 minutes of practice you are reaching a goal. How many times in the past did you practice for 2 hours and feel like you got nothing done? the only thing "stressful" about it is knowing the improvements that you will able to make, but not realizing them immediately because you are still in the process of learning the method itself.

-paul

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #48 on: November 06, 2004, 03:51:54 PM »
UPDATE:

we just got a little black Pug puppy..  There goes my practice schedule!  ;)

Offline glBelgedin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 47
Re: Pauls Plan to Try It Himself. For Bernhard
«Reply #49 on: November 06, 2004, 05:09:27 PM »
Quote
we just got a little black Pug puppy..  There goes my practice schedule!

But you have a good excuse: "Um, my dog at my sheetmusic."