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No Great Music Without Great Tension

Anthony Tommassini, classical music critic for The New York Times, invites us all to a mini-lecture at the piano on dissonance. With a series of examples by well known composers, Tommassini elaborates on one of the most crucial components in Western music. Read more >>

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Author Topic: Practice time  (Read 1988 times)
chopinguy
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« on: January 08, 2005, 04:01:03 AM »

Hi everyone,

I'm 15 and a serious pianist, but school takes up so much time that often I only find that I have about an hour a day to practice.  I get a lot of time in on the weekends, and vacations are great (3 weeks per vacation), but other than that, I'm swamped.  Is this a reasonable amount of practice time in order to make significant progress each week?  I find that over one vacation, I make more progress than I do over an entire school trimester.  How much practice time do really good people usually get in per day?  Thanks
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pies
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2005, 04:14:53 AM »

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pianiststrongbad
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2005, 05:43:08 AM »

When I was in High School, I had a tendency to not do all of my homework for school because my test scores tended to be very good.  The result was that I had more time to practice, which I took advantage of- I practiced about four hours a day.  This last semester (now in college) I took a russian language course, which took more of my time than expected, as a result i had less practice time than I wanted and I only did about an hour or two a day.  This past semester I must admit, I did not learn nearly as much literature as I normally do ( I only learned a Chopin Etude and Liszt Petrarch Sonnet 104).  I worked on some other things, but these were the only pieces which saw serious improvement.  In the past when I practice more, I am able to work on lots more.  I think practice time definately correlates to a certain extent with how much improvement you can make over that period of time. 
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bernhard
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2005, 03:11:44 PM »

I doubt very much that you only have one hour a day in which to practise.

What you probably mean is that you have only one hour a day of continuouspractice.

But -  and this is the beauty of it - there is no reason to practice for one hour solid. In fact there are several disadvantages.

Instead think of practising in 10 – 15 minutes chunks (or 20 – 30 minutes at the most). If you go around your day you may find that you have several such time chunks being wasted. If you use these 10 – 15 minutes chunks to practise, you may be surprised how many hours in a day you can do at the piano when you add them all up.

However, for this approach to amount to anything, you must do a lot of planning to make sure that your small practice segments amount to something at the end of a period of time. In short, you must plan your work, and then you must work your plan.

You also need to be disciplined, because in this area consistency is the key.

Have a look here for more discussions on this (very important) subject:

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,1825.msg13858.html#msg13858
(Accommodating practice times – 10 minute sessions – some mention on mental practice)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2526.msg21829.html#msg21829
(how to organise piano practise in short/medium/long term – Principle of memory retention – Principle of 15 minute sessions – stopping when you achieve your goals. Teachers should teach how to learn)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,3039.msg26525.html#msg26525
(how big are your hands, and does it matter?  7 x 20 minutes – exercise/activities to strengthen the playing apparatus – ways to deal with wide chords – the myth that Richter was self-taught – 3 stages of learning – Example: Chopin militaire Polonaise- scientific principles for testing practice methods – Example: Prelude in F#m from WTC1 – when to join hands and why HS – practice is improvement – the principle of “easy” – Example: Chopin’s ballade no. 4 – repeated groups)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4105.msg37603.html#msg37603
(Does age and practice time matter? Summary of the 7 x 20 approach – averages and standard deviations are given for the several numbers – need for a practice diary – how to deal with mastering something and forgetting it next day – what exactly is mastery – the 3 stages of mastery)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,3561.msg31700.html#msg31700
(7 X 20 principle, how do you know when you mastered a section, when to use the methods, and when they are not necessary – investigating the reasons for difficult)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4689.msg44184.html#msg44184
(20 minutes – practice starts when you get it right – definition of mastery : learned – mastered – omniscience – Aim for easy – final speed in practice must be faster than performance speed – Example: Chopin Op. 10 no. 2 – outline – repeated note groups – HS x HT)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4710.msg44538.html#msg44538
(more about 7 x 20 minutes – Progress is the ultimate decider – How to break a piece in practice sessions – Example: Satie gymnopedie – importance of planning – aim at 100 pieces per year – Example: Bach Cm WTC 2 -)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4750.msg45125.html#msg45125
(more details: learned – mastered –omniscience – why repertory must be paramount – how to work on 20 pieces per month – a case for easy repertory – importance of discipline and of having a plan – analogy of mastering a piece and making wine – musicality is ultimately good taste – Example: Beethoven op. 49 no. 2- A list of progressive repertory to lead to Rach prelude op. 32 no. 5 – mastery is when it is easy)

http://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,4858.msg46087.html#msg46087
(Paul’s report on B’s method. HS x HT – Example: Lecuona’s malaguena – 7x20 – need to adjust and adapt – repeated note-groups – importance of HS – hand memory – 7 items only in consciousness – playing in automatic pilot - )

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.




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chopinguy
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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2005, 04:59:43 PM »

Wow, thanks for all the help!

At my (boarding) school I'm required to take a sport every day after classes, and my piano teacher suggested I switch from track to music basics.  This would probably free up an extra hour and a half each day.

My schedule is as follows:
Classes from 8:00 AM to 2:45 PM
Track from 3:15 to 5:00 PM
Homework from 5:00-5:30 PM
Dinner from 5:30-6:00 PM
Homework from 6:00 PM-6:20 PM
Orchestra from 6:20 PM-8:00 PM
Homework from 8:00 PM-9:30 PM
Go home from 9:30-10:00 PM
Then, from 10:00 PM-11:30 PM I have my straight hour and a half to practice if I've finished all my homework at school (I'm supposed to get around four hours of homework each day).  Also, my school student body is day students and boarders, and I'm a day student who lives about 30 minutes away, so I lose an hour each day because of that.

Music basics should be from 3:00-3:30 instead, so that would free up lots of time.  I'm strongly considering it...

And the 20 minute chunk is a good idea.  When I practice for an hour, I practice about 25 minutes straight, get up and take a 5 minute break and get back to practicing again for another 25 minutes.  But a lot of times I forget about it  Tongue


P.S. How hard is it to do well academically and still be able to commit myself as a serious pianist?  Do I need to choose between the two somehow?  There doesn't seem to be enough time in a day!
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Bob
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« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2005, 10:28:11 PM »

I haven't read the whole thread, but...

When I was in high school I practiced about 3 hours each day, usually 3-6pm, ate supper, did homework.  And there still wasn't enough time, and not really a lot of time spent on each piece every day.  I've heard the idea of 1 hour per day per piece.  I remember my teacher said they practiced 3-4 hours per day when they were in high school, so that's what I thought you had to do if you were serious.

There are lots of different kinds of pianists out there.  In school, I do think there is a difference between the type that is involved with everything -- sports, student council, church activites -- and the kind that only has piano activites outside of school.

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