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Slow method (Read 2911 times)

Offline mojohk

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Slow method
« on: April 24, 2002, 09:54:21 PM »
I've been told it's the best way--play everything with a slow tempo--even memorize it at that tempo--and you'll remember it forever.  I've never been able to really stand practicing that way--I'm still trying.  Any comments on this method?  Would appreciate them.  Thanx.

Offline ludwig

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slow practice
«Reply #1 on: April 25, 2002, 03:38:33 AM »

 I've always believed in the slow method of practice. I suppose it does a few things. It lets you work out details of the music technically, it is a patience trainer, it allows you to listen carefully to each note's tone and acheive the best, and it is harder to play slower than faster, which is always a challenge. just wish I could do more of it.  ;D
"Classical music snobs are some of the snobbiest snobs of all. Often their snobbery masquerades as helpfulnes... unaware that they are making you feel small in order to make themselves feel big..."ÜÜÜ

Offline Diabolos

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Re: Slow method
«Reply #2 on: April 27, 2002, 05:23:42 PM »
I can't add much to Ludwig's comment since I take the same viewpoint, but there are some other possible ways, too.
For example, you'll never get fast fluent passages or scales by practising them slowly - you should try playing these parts in different Rhythms; you'll memorize them faster and you'll certainly be able to play them fast without hitting wrong notes.

But when it comes to parts of great expression and dynamic difficulty, the slow method is still the best.

Offline rachfan

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Re: Slow method
«Reply #3 on: January 09, 2003, 03:40:37 AM »
There is yet another benefit of slow practice.  For many of us mortals, when we play a piece up to tempo serveral times in succession, it can become uneven and ragged.   Details become sloppy in the articulation.  Slow practice reinstitutes discipline in the playing and makes things orderly and tidy again.  Some writers on this subject suggest a ratio of three slow practice sessions to one at speed.  That ratio has generally worked well for me, although everyone is different.  The level and complexity of the piece will be variables in setting a ratio too.  At any rate, I'm a strong believer in the principle of slow practice--there is no substitute or short-cut for it that will bring the same fine results.

One caveat: Slow practice does not always guarantee results for tempi in the presto range.  Upon close examination though, slow practice is not the culprit; rather it turns out to be the fingering.  Sometimes a fingering seems logical and secure at a lesser tempo, yet once the playing is accelerated, the fingering turns out to be untentable.  Always focus on that possibility first.
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline tosca1

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Re: Slow method
«Reply #4 on: January 29, 2003, 10:06:18 AM »
Robert Schumann said "Slow practice is golden." and discussion so far on this topic would affirm that.  
Many very young learners of the piano however do not immediately see the benefits of good slow practice and their impatience to play the piece up-to-speed inevitably brings a disappointing result.
Rachfan mentioned a very important point when pointing out the fingering of passages at a slow speed and the possible need to modify that fingering when playing at the proper tempo. Such fingering discrepancies should be carefully checked and a  definitive fingering established before slow practice otherwise fingering changes could cause technical insecurity.

Slow practice gives us the time to deeply breathe in the music.  It is an excellent help not only in learning notes, in developing secure fingering and technical control in the piece, but also the memory work is facilitated.  :D

Offline rachfan

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Re: Slow method
«Reply #5 on: January 30, 2003, 02:20:53 AM »
I agree with tosca1 that so many students would benefit from slow practice!  It does take some self-discipline.  When preparing a piece, slow practice enables me to pay really close attention to all of the minute details in notation, phrasing, fingering, dynamics, etc, and while working out all the "mechanical" difficulties too.  In every piece there is a section or a few measures that pose problems of execution.  Thoughtful, precise, and repetitive practice is the cure for those trouble spots.  

By the way, I usually do not use pedal during slow practice.  That forces me to connect the notes into true legato, listen for balance between the hands, observe matters of touch, voice chords, emphasize inner lines as appropriate, etc.  While pedal is the "soul of the piano" as Liszt said, the bad news is that it can also "gloss over" problems.  Once glossing over becomes the norm, it is no longer practice--just sloppy playing.  Once I am ready to transition to playing closer to tempo and in a far more musical way, I add the pedal (critiquing it constantly with my ear).

With the mechanical difficulties fairly well solved, I can then focus on the important interpretive matters.  So what happens if one of those trouble spots rears its head again again?  More slow practice, of course.  So slow practice does not occur just at the first learning of a piece; rather, it's applied whenever needed while the piece remains in active repertoire.  
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline Chris_Rossoni

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Re: Slow method
«Reply #6 on: January 30, 2003, 05:40:19 AM »
One bad thing about slow practice is that your hands don't move the same way as they would if you were playing faster.   On faster sections, make sure you can play it up to speed before you start slow practice.   I usually just learn the notes,  slow or fast (depending if i can sightread it or not)  then get it up to speed as fast as possible.  Then i begin the slower practice so my brain can catch up with my fingers.   If you know how to play fast and slow, you are fine.  Speed walls usually hit you if you play something real slow and you try to ramp it up to speed because your hands are moving the same way they were when you were playing slow.   I hope this helps!

Offline dinosaurtales

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Re: Slow method
«Reply #7 on: January 30, 2003, 09:36:56 AM »
Well, I'll be the first to admit that sometimes practicing slowly can be a pain in the ass.  I simpley get sick of playing everything slow all the time - BUT it's really the only way to nail down  those irritating phrasing and dynamic markings.  I use a metronome - it's my friend these days. I work out fingerings and some passages I "test" fingerings by doing bits fast to make sure it works, but then I start the Slow thang.  I get all the sections of the piece so I can do the whole thing at one very slow tempo, and I pay attention to ALL the markings.  You will be amazed at the details you dig up by doing them slow.  Then I ratchet up the speed.  Also start memorizing in this phase -

Every once in a while I do a "speed" test, just to see where the sloppy spots still are.

But slow works, like it or not!
So much music, so little time........

Offline rachfan

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Re: Slow method
«Reply #8 on: January 31, 2003, 03:21:50 AM »
I make liberal use of the metronome too.  Many people use it only to figure out a difficult rhythm, and that's fine. But beyond that, when learning a new piece (once all the notes are down), I'll sometimes turn on the metronome and play the piece through with it a few times.  Several things pop in that exercise.  First, if there is a rough spot there, the metronome will highlight it instantly, i.e., clearly the spot requires intensive practice, since it obviously cannot be performed at the prevailing tempo.  Secondly, once in a while I'll discover a rhythmic detail that needs correcting which had totally escaped me during regular practice.  And finally, once I play a piece through more than once with the metronome, while rachetting it up to tempo, I achieve a stronger sense of security and confidence.  I use the metronome only during the "mechanical" phase of practice when striving for eveness, accuracy, articulation, etc.  Once I turn to matters of interpretation and playing in a musical and truly artistic mode, the metronome gets switched off, since it has already provided a necessary discipline.    
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline trunks

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Re: Slow method
«Reply #9 on: April 19, 2004, 11:08:41 PM »
Subconciousness is the basis of habit, and habit is the basis of all technique.

The process of practising is the process of getting things into the subconsciousness. The slower the process, the more efficiently and firmly things will get into the subconsciousness - hence the theory of slow practice.
Peter (Hong Kong)
part-time piano tutor
amateur classical concert pianist

Offline tosca1

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Re: Slow method
«Reply #10 on: April 19, 2004, 11:46:49 PM »
Slow practice is also a listening discipline as you have the time to focus on the sound of each note and its place in the musical context.  The test of musical playing is how you play a note in relation to  the following note.  Always playing up-to-speed does not allow enough time to process the nuances of articulation, dynamic level and tone colour.  
Peter HK is absolutely correct about slow practice developing muscular preparation in the sub-conscious which is an essential process in the learning of any piece.
Kind regards,
Robert.

Offline donjuan

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Re: Slow method
«Reply #11 on: April 21, 2004, 05:58:11 AM »
Slow Practice is important for control.  You will never be able to control music at a fast tempo without first doing it in a slow tempo.  

It is not wise to ALWAYS practice slowly.  As pianists, we must avoid being boring and mechanical, which is a trait slow practice encourages.  I would alternate - run through a piece slowly, when I get to the end, start right back at the beginning again and play in normal time.  Sometimes, it's beneficial to play in short bursts of speed- to prepare the hand for position changes without the moment of uncertainty.    
Anyone agree?
donjuan

Offline tosca1

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Re: Slow method
«Reply #12 on: April 21, 2004, 06:55:30 AM »
As a proportional practice time allocation I have heard the suggestion two thirds slow to one third up-to-speed.
Seems sensible...???

Kind regards,
Robert.

Offline dinosaurtales

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Re: Slow method
«Reply #13 on: April 21, 2004, 08:44:36 AM »
I would even be willing to say 9/10ths slow to 1/10th up to speed.  I am working the the Apassionata, and I swear, that last movement, the perpetual motion machine, I have hours and hours into painstakingly slow practice to get transitions smooth, jumps precise, dynamics correct, evenness of the sixteenths, blah blah, and am just now trying faster tempos -and it's amazing how it *just happens*.  but it takes a LOT of slow practice.  

:-/
So much music, so little time........

Offline trunks

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Re: Slow method
«Reply #14 on: April 21, 2004, 09:44:02 AM »
True, especially in the LH descending running scales preceded by the double scales in minor 6ths!
Peter (Hong Kong)
part-time piano tutor
amateur classical concert pianist

Offline dinosaurtales

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Re: Slow method
«Reply #15 on: April 21, 2004, 05:42:29 PM »
No S**T!
So much music, so little time........