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Topic: Is it possible to practise away from the piano?  (Read 2689 times)

Offline Jacey1973

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Is it possible to practise away from the piano?
on: August 25, 2005, 07:07:19 PM
I'm going on holiday in a few days and i will be away from my piano for 2 weeks, i'm not normally away from it for more than 2 days so i'm a bit worried.

I remember reading somewhere in the Cambridge guide to the piano or Boris Berman's "Notes from the Pianist's bench" i think, about how a teacher (- it might have been Liszt???) used to get his pupils to practise away from the piano.

Does anyone know what this involves and is it of any help? I'm planning to take my scores and recordings away with me, but i can't see them being of that much help apart from getting a bit more familiar with the pieces. Anyone got any ideas?
"Mozart makes you believe in God - it cannot be by chance that such a phenomenon arrives into this world and then passes after 36 yrs, leaving behind such an unbounded no. of unparalled masterpieces"

Offline rapmasterb

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Re: Is it possible to practise away from the piano?
Reply #1 on: August 25, 2005, 07:24:33 PM
I have the same problem all the time. While everyone likes going on holiday you cant help feeling that you will take at least the time spent on holiday over again to get your playing back to where it should be.

At a masterclass I attended before a person was told that she could practise a particular movement of the hand (from a mozart sonata) on the bus or at the dinner table or whatever. If I remember right it was the up-down hand action required to play a couplet correctly. I know for a fact that you can practise trills/tremolos at a table; even if you aren't at a piano you can get your muscles working. As far as the pieces themselves you could use the time to really think about your expression in great detail and write in detailed notes (if you haven't already done that). Also memorizing the piece can be helped by memorizing the score from a  visual point of view. This can be very helpful and I try and do this anyway when learning off a piece. If you remember a scene from "Shine" Helfgotts teacher  made him practise fingering on a  hard surface - don't really know why though it could just be Hollywood!

On the bright side you will probably be back fresh from your holiday and be even more eager to practise. Enjoy anyway.

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Is it possible to practise away from the piano?
Reply #2 on: August 25, 2005, 07:30:34 PM
Unless you have got a competition or a recital in the near future, take your 2 weeks off and forget about practise.

Good idea to take your scores and you have a good opportunity for some quality listening.

Have a nice time.
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Concerto Preservation Society

Offline Etude

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Re: Is it possible to practise away from the piano?
Reply #3 on: August 25, 2005, 07:34:59 PM
It's so weird after being on holiday for 2 weeks.  The keys feel completely strange to me, and I misjudge leaps/arpeggios etc.  It takes about 2 days to get back to normal.  This year I only went for 1 week so my playing wasn't really affected.  But  practicing away from the piano can be very useful especially for trills.  I developed quite a bit of my 4-5 trill technique on the desks at school  :).  I even played through pieces on the desks when I was bored, though I often ran out of room.   ;)

Offline pnorcks

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Re: Is it possible to practise away from the piano?
Reply #4 on: August 25, 2005, 07:35:54 PM
Check out this thread on mental practice:

https://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,2458.0.html

Offline Jacey1973

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Re: Is it possible to practise away from the piano?
Reply #5 on: August 25, 2005, 07:36:57 PM
Yeah thanks very much, some good ideas. I've photocopied a little bit from a books about Beethoven sonatas from a playing/interpretation point of view, so i thought i could read them and add notes to the score (im doing Les Adieux).

Its funny i was gonna mention the scene from "Shine" when Helfgott is practising on a hard surface and is just writing in a few notes. Has anyone read "The Pianist" or seen the film? I remember reading in the book that Spilzman used to go over his repertoire in his head all the time when he was in hiding without a piano - and he said when he came back to his career after the war it made a huge difference, he was able to remember almost everything he had memorised before he stopped playing.

I will give the visual memorising thing a go, i think i have quite a photographic memory anyway.
"Mozart makes you believe in God - it cannot be by chance that such a phenomenon arrives into this world and then passes after 36 yrs, leaving behind such an unbounded no. of unparalled masterpieces"

Offline quantum

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Re: Is it possible to practise away from the piano?
Reply #6 on: August 25, 2005, 07:38:00 PM
Actually not thinking about playing the piano is a form of mental practice.  Your brain gets a break from the physical perspective of playing and has time to work and mature your pieces mentally.  This is an extreemly important part of practicing as we we too often are too obsessed with the physical nature of playing the piano and forget to develop our music in other ways. 
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline Jacey1973

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Re: Is it possible to practise away from the piano?
Reply #7 on: August 25, 2005, 07:40:10 PM
Unless you have got a competition or a recital in the near future, take your 2 weeks off and forget about practise.

Good idea to take your scores and you have a good opportunity for some quality listening.

Have a nice time.

I have masters degree music colege auditions about a month after i get back  :'( so i will be working very hard to make up for it! In a way i think a break is good - as someone said it refreshes you.
"Mozart makes you believe in God - it cannot be by chance that such a phenomenon arrives into this world and then passes after 36 yrs, leaving behind such an unbounded no. of unparalled masterpieces"

Offline rapmasterb

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Re: Is it possible to practise away from the piano?
Reply #8 on: August 25, 2005, 07:54:23 PM
Oh yeah I forgot depending where you're going there could be music shops around with pianos in them. I was in a small town in the south of france a few years ago and it was the last place in the world I would have expected to find a specialist music shop but guess what - there were 2! You'll only be there for a couple of weeks so so what if you annoy them with practising (or pretend your in the market for one or something and they'll let you play with no problems). Also you'd be surprised the way you notice how many places have pianos when you're looking for one - hotels, bars, restaurants. If you're really desperate I'd try and arrange to practise there in the mornings or something.

Though to be honest, as was mentioned above everyone needs a rest and two weeks without practise wouldn't be disastrous.

Offline xvimbi

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Re: Is it possible to practise away from the piano?
Reply #9 on: August 25, 2005, 07:54:57 PM
As pnorcks remarkes, look through the mental practice posts. There are people who say practice away from the piano should in fact constitute 90% of the total practice time (I think Bernhard is an advocate of this). Advanced pianists with excellent keyboard and body maps can learn pieces entirely away from the piano and play them flawlessly the moment they sit down (for example Pletnev, Gould). That is not too surprising, because once a technique is mastered, it does not have to be practiced anymore. Normal playing of regular repertoire will maintain it, so most of the work can indeed be done away from the piano. Now, getting to that stage is another issue...

Offline rapmasterb

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Re: Is it possible to practise away from the piano?
Reply #10 on: August 25, 2005, 08:57:38 PM
Yeah or you could get a psychiatrist to brainwash you into thinking you can play a piece and then you'll be able to. I'd say that's possible actually.....

Offline hazypurple21

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Re: Is it possible to practise away from the piano?
Reply #11 on: August 26, 2005, 12:59:57 AM
Your vacation could be a good time for post practice improvement to set in.
"There is one god-Bach-and Mendelssohn is his prophet."

Offline maxy

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Re: Is it possible to practise away from the piano?
Reply #12 on: August 26, 2005, 01:49:58 AM
well, you can't practice away from the piano, but you can learn pieces.

Offline gruffalo

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Re: Is it possible to practise away from the piano?
Reply #13 on: August 26, 2005, 11:54:00 AM
Although when you come back your playing may sound worse, but when you leave a piece, once you work it again when you come back it is often much imporved than the original.

Offline rafnael

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Re: Is it possible to practise away from the piano?
Reply #14 on: August 26, 2005, 12:47:40 PM
Major pianists have been known to take long breaks away from the piano, and continue to do so either voluntarily or not (Argerich, Perahia, Keith Jarrett off the top of my head) and all eventually came back to their prime level, so.. I think if you consider yourself serious about piano playing, you shouldn't consider your technique as something as "elusive" as it would break in a matter of weeks not practising it. Same goes for your repertoire. A sound piano technique won't vanish like that, I promiss ! And any aspect of your technique (and/or repertoire) that wasn't that well acquired, you need'nt worry about losing.

And, as others said, not playing for a couple of weeks might even prove beneficial : it'll give you a fresh look at your playing, it certainly did for me (at one time, a 2 weeks holiday break even fixed a sort of blocage I had on one particular piece, weird)

Enjoy your time off, you deserve it :)

Offline Jacey1973

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Re: Is it possible to practise away from the piano?
Reply #15 on: August 26, 2005, 08:40:02 PM
Thanks for all these great replies. I've printed off some of the "mental practise" posts by Bernhard and others - thanks for that link. I will give them a read when i'm lying on the beach...lol  8)
"Mozart makes you believe in God - it cannot be by chance that such a phenomenon arrives into this world and then passes after 36 yrs, leaving behind such an unbounded no. of unparalled masterpieces"
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