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Topic: How to increase practice time  (Read 2575 times)

Offline pianoperformer

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How to increase practice time
on: December 16, 2008, 08:05:52 AM
I've been playing the piano for 15 years. I was a music major last semester, and it was amazing, because of the classical training I was receiving. But I tried to increase my practice time too much over the summer, because I was given a rather difficult piano concerto to learn, and I really wanted to master it.

During the semester, I practiced between 3-5 hours per day, usually on the lower end. That's all that is required here.

However, during the summer, I tried to increase to 6-7 or more hours, because I had read that most exceptional pianists practice this much, and I felt like I had to if I wanted to go anywhere as a pianist.

Anyway, long story short, I got overwhelmed, it got tedious, and I quit. I changed my major and forgot about the piano for about 4-5 months. I'm sure my perfectionist tendencies didn't help.

Well about a month ago, I started to come back to it again, obviously because I really missed it. I'm relearning the concerto now, and I really want to get back into music.

I still feel like I should practice a lot, but right now I'm doing between 1.5-2 hours per day, partly because I have finals right now, but also because I just haven't practiced at all for 5 months.

So my question is, how can I increase my practice time without getting overwhelmed? I'm assuming it's because I increased it too quickly. I'd love to be able to practice that much, but I just can't do it all at once right now.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Offline diabola

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #1 on: December 16, 2008, 09:50:56 AM
i think 4 hrs max is good enough per day! just seperate the time into 2 hrs in the morning and 2 hrs at night then you will not be so tired! and concentrate intently so you can learn more things in less time!~

Offline pianoperformer

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #2 on: December 16, 2008, 10:06:57 AM
i think 4 hrs max is good enough per day! just seperate the time into 2 hrs in the morning and 2 hrs at night then you will not be so tired! and concentrate intently so you can learn more things in less time!~

Thanks, but do you really think so? I constantly hear of piano majors practicing 6-8 hours per day.

Offline allthumbs

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #3 on: December 16, 2008, 08:25:50 PM
I agree with diabola. Splitting up the total time you practice makes sense to prevent becoming tired and or bored.

If you want to practice more than that, I would also break up each practice session into smaller time segments and take a small break in between of say 5-10 minutes or so to relax, get a drink or snack etc.

Also I would plan what technical or other issues that you would like to tackle in the practice session. Depending on the size of the repertoire you are woking on, you may want to only work on a smaller segment of your repertoire at any one time.

Leave some time to play pieces that don't need any work just for fun at the end of the work session.

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Offline pianoperformer

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #4 on: December 16, 2008, 08:40:34 PM
I agree with diabola. Splitting up the total time you practice makes sense to prevent becoming tired and or bored.

If you want to practice more than that, I would also break up each practice session into smaller time segments and take a small break in between of say 5-10 minutes or so to relax, get a drink or snack etc.

Also I would plan what technical or other issues that you would like to tackle in the practice session. Depending on the size of the repertoire you are woking on, you may want to only work on a smaller segment of your repertoire at any one time.

Leave some time to play pieces that don't need any work just for fun at the end of the work session.

allthumbs

Thanks. I already do most of that, though I'll have to reintroduce the mini-breaks. I think I used to take a 5-minute break every 30 minutes or so.

But what's the best way to get from what I'm doing now, say between 1.5-2 hours, to 5+ hours? I don't mean all at once, of course, as that'd be horrible.

How gradually should I increase it?

Let's say I make it a point this week to practice two hours per day. How much should I shoot for next week? Maybe two and a half hours?

Offline franzliszt2

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #5 on: December 16, 2008, 11:01:48 PM
I think it is personal and depends on the situation.

My practice sessions vary as the day goes on...I usually start early, and practice some technical stuff for about an hour. Then I am usually awake and warmed up...I have to get my mind into gear, as well as my fingers. I find a really good warm-up at the start of day makes me relax becasue I try to focus on relaxation, becasue tension is the cause of most technical problems. After that I do the hard work...learning new notes or practice some passage that troubles me mentally (and usually physically). I do this for as long as it takes...it can take up to a few hours...but it must be done. Don't time yourself, just let the results come natutally without the restrictions of time. Leave it at a point where you think you can achieve no more in that session.

Then have lunch, or whatever, read a book, do something totally different. Then go back, and work on some other passages or piece or whatever.

I usually do things that are purely technical later on in the day, like problems where you have learn all the notes, and sorted out the fingering, and thought the problems through and just need to get it up to speed, or polish it off. I find that my mind does not need to be AS involved as it does when note learning etc...becasue bad habits can really start at the early stages. That is why I do that in the morning, becasue I am fresh and my mind is more active (That is a very personal thing, some people work better at night). Uusally practicing a passage that has been learnt and just needs speeding up doesn't take that much effort if you just practice it everyday and build on it. It's also a nice balance to have....becasue if you follow this advice...the 1st hour will leave your fingers a little tired, after a good work out, but your fingers will not be working much whilst learning notes, your brain will get tired then. Then you practice some difficult passaegs...and NOW you do some more technical stuff, becasue to get things up to speed you have to build it up by playing it faster gradually or by doing technical methods on it.

Again that can take a few hours easily.

Then at the end of the day you can just practice all the bits that are not that problematic, revise some stuff you did before, and...I strongly advise this....play through everything you are working on through at half speed with a score. This is very good for memory.



I'm not saying that this is the only way to practice a lot in one day, but it is an idea. The point is, if you structure things, you will get work done and feel as if you are gettig somewhere.

I think it's a total load of rubbish when people say you have to be 100% focused when you are practicing. It's just not realistic, and if you have a lot of work to do, the whole "4 hours a day is enough" is just stupid. If you are preparing for a competition and you have 3 recital programmes and 2 concerto's to prepare, you simple cannot survive on 4 hours unless you are mega mega prepared a long time in advance.


I don't think you should time yourself strictly though...just divide the day up into section, and if you achieve things faster than you expected then great, you have more free time. If things don't go to plan and something turns out to be harder than expected....it will be a long day  ;)


The biggest sectret about practicing is not how much you practice, but how often you practice. If you practice one passage for 3 hours one day...and leave it for a day or more, it will dissapear. If you practice it for 20 minutes 4 times a day at different times everyday....you will have it mastered in a few days.

Offline mikey6

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #6 on: December 16, 2008, 11:44:43 PM
Don't let people come to you and complain about how bad their practice has been though - sortta off putting...
Never look at the trombones. You'll only encourage them.
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Offline pianoperformer

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #7 on: December 17, 2008, 12:37:11 AM
franzliszt2, that was an amazing post. Thank you!

Question: Do you take any days off, or do you do this every day?

Also, do you think I can take on a schedule like this right away without getting burned out? It's been a while since I've practiced that much.

Offline Karli

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #8 on: December 17, 2008, 03:55:20 AM
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Offline pianoperformer

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #9 on: December 17, 2008, 04:24:36 AM
Karli,

But, why do you practice so much? Do you think you could get the same amount done in less time? That just seems crazy.

That's why I get discouraged, because it seems everyone else is practicing so much, I feel like I can never catch up.

I can see 5, 6, even 7 hours...but 10?

Offline Karli

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #10 on: December 17, 2008, 04:39:43 AM
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Offline pianoperformer

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #11 on: December 17, 2008, 04:59:13 AM
Karli,

Thanks for your response. I love the piano, but I have other interests, too, such as programming, and I just don't know if I could spend every moment of the day practicing. I wonder though whether I should want to practice all day.

It's interesting what you say, though.

It sounds like the general consensus is just to do as much as I need to do. I will try that.

How many pieces do you recommend working on at a time? My piano teacher gave me three pieces to learn right now, but should I try something else, too? I really want to expand my repertoire.

Offline Karli

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #12 on: December 17, 2008, 05:13:37 AM
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Offline goldentone

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #13 on: December 17, 2008, 07:30:36 AM
Right now you're practicing 1.5 to 2 hours a day.  This is what I suggest:  I would add 15 minutes to your base practicing time and see how that sits with you.  Then when you're ready, add another 15.  You can increase your practice time incrementally at a healthy pace without overwhelming yourself.
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Offline franzliszt2

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #14 on: December 17, 2008, 10:33:11 AM
franzliszt2, that was an amazing post. Thank you!

Question: Do you take any days off, or do you do this every day?

Also, do you think I can take on a schedule like this right away without getting burned out? It's been a while since I've practiced that much.

I take loads of days off. I usually have 1 a week, and just have a day where I do whatever I want to do. I like to vist and art gallery once a week, and that usually takes most of the day. Sometimes if I am not in the mood I will have a day off, and do something else. Of course if I have a concert or performance or something coming up I will practice more.


When you say you want to increase your time....do you get tired physically when you practice for a long time?

Offline pianoperformer

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #15 on: December 17, 2008, 11:17:13 AM
Right now you're practicing 1.5 to 2 hours a day.  This is what I suggest:  I would add 15 minutes to your base practicing time and see how that sits with you.  Then when you're ready, add another 15.  You can increase your practice time incrementally at a healthy pace without overwhelming yourself.

Thank you. I really like that idea and will try it.

Offline pianoperformer

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #16 on: December 17, 2008, 11:27:52 AM
When you say you want to increase your time....do you get tired physically when you practice for a long time?

Only when I practice a long time at once. My lower back starts to hurt and I have to stand up and stretch. That happens after about an hour and a half of practice right now, probably just because I'm not used to it yet.

Quick off-topic question. I'm going home for Christmas break today, for three weeks. Part of the time every day, I have to practice on my keyboard if I want to get anything done, but then at 6:00 or so at night I can go down to this church to practice on their piano, obviously nicer than a keyboard, for as long as I want (within reason--my mom has to pick me up when I'm done so it can't be that late).

So, what kind of stuff should I practice on the keyboard, and what should I save for the piano? The keyboard is full-size, but the keys are really light to the touch. I'm working on technique (scales and a type of arpeggio of which I don't remember the name), a piano concerto by Saint-SaŽns, a piece by Rachmaninoff and one by Scarlatti.

Sorry for going off-topic, but I want to make sure I make decent progress over the break.

Offline db05

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #17 on: December 17, 2008, 12:55:40 PM
Only when I practice a long time at once. My lower back starts to hurt and I have to stand up and stretch. That happens after about an hour and a half of practice right now, probably just because I'm not used to it yet.

My guitar teacher highly recommends regular exercise, preferably a gym program. I TRIED to do it, but I would always find reasons not to go: sick, cold/ cough, depressed, busy with schoolwork... but for the time I was going to gym regularly (at least twice a week) my playing was a lot better, and practice more relaxed. Helped me a lot more with piano than guitar though...  :P

The problem was when I felt a bit sick and the crunches made it worse and I got dizzy... oh, and the time when I was required to do bench press and it was just painful... If you're new to this, you have to have a trainer as it's so easy to go wrong and hurt yourself.

Now I have a cold...  :'( It affects my playing a lot, gets really bad, my playing that is.
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Offline pianoperformer

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #18 on: December 17, 2008, 01:07:44 PM
My guitar teacher highly recommends regular exercise, preferably a gym program. I TRIED to do it, but I would always find reasons not to go: sick, cold/ cough, depressed, busy with schoolwork... but for the time I was going to gym regularly (at least twice a week) my playing was a lot better, and practice more relaxed. Helped me a lot more with piano than guitar though...  :P

Interesting! What kind of exercises do you primarily do?

The problem was when I felt a bit sick and the crunches made it worse and I got dizzy... oh, and the time when I was required to do bench press and it was just painful... If you're new to this, you have to have a trainer as it's so easy to go wrong and hurt yourself.

Yeah, I'd have to be careful. I'm not a very active person. :P

Now I have a cold...  :'( It affects my playing a lot, gets really bad, my playing that is.

I hate colds. I just got over pneumonia though. I couldn't approach a piano then.

Last night, I tried the idea of taking a break after a half an hour, and thought that worked out rather well. There's a regular chair I can sit in during the breaks, so that helps the physical discomfort issue. I felt like I could have gone a while like that, but I started to feel sick so I left after a little over an hour. :(

Offline db05

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #19 on: December 17, 2008, 01:24:05 PM
Interesting! What kind of exercises do you primarily do?

The only mainstay is the cardio, which means biking and treadmill, first 10 mins each then increased gradually. Then abs, legs, chest, arms. Those change every month. change is most interesting and helpful. I've tried karatedo before, and then aerobics, but the routine becomes tedious after a while.

I hate colds. I just got over pneumonia though. I couldn't approach a piano then.

Last night, I tried the idea of taking a break after a half an hour, and thought that worked out rather well. There's a regular chair I can sit in during the breaks, so that helps the physical discomfort issue. I felt like I could have gone a while like that, but I started to feel sick so I left after a little over an hour. :(

I get that too. Sometimes I'm just feeling a little sick, or pain, but when I practice it's all crap and nothing is happening. Some days I don't practice at all. Nowadays, when I do practice, it's in 30 min chunks. I HAVE to get up and walk after 30 mins, and maybe get a snack/ drink. I want to increase my practice time, too, but I think getting everyday practice consistently is a bigger issue here.
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Offline amelialw

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #20 on: December 17, 2008, 02:15:58 PM

However, during the summer, I tried to increase to 6-7 or more hours, because I had read that most exceptional pianists practice this much, and I felt like I had to if I wanted to go anywhere as a pianist.

Anyway, long story short, I got overwhelmed, it got tedious, and I quit. I changed my major and forgot about the piano for about 4-5 months. I'm sure my perfectionist tendencies didn't help.


this is not true at all. I remember I watched a video on youtube...umm on pianists&prodigy's etc. it is a well-known video I think it's called"Imagine...being a concert pianist". In one part of the video, a lady professor recomends that students should practice about 4-5 hrs a day and no more then 6.

Before I watched this video, i used to push myself too much, often overdid it and was often tired/worn out and wanted to give up. Now i have followed that given advice and am much happier and I can do better practice. Yes on some days i do feel down or a little depressed but still i always get by now somehow.

Don't push yourself too much and if u increase you're practice time, do it bit by bit :)
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Offline mike_lang

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #21 on: December 17, 2008, 02:31:00 PM
I think it is generally better to increase the quality of practice first.  One hindrance I found in my own practice in the past was the tendency to play the same pieces, the same way, each day.  I did not enjoy myself this way - my playing became stale, lost spontaneity, and I became bored.  The more that you enjoy practice (and find things in it to enjoy), the more concentrated you will work in the time you do have, and perhaps you'll want to practice a little longer too.  The greatest advice I can give is that it has to be natural - you will get much more done in your two hours if you enjoy them, than you will by forcing yourself to practice eight hours.

To boot:

M. Pressler practices four hours every morning - he says this forces him to work with laserlike concentration by economizing his work.

A. Watts advises his students to practice no more than four hours daily.

E. Kissin believes (I will not give his phrasing, as it is rather abrasive and unhelpful) that no more than four hours are necessary.

That having been said, I think you will find as many opinions as people on the hours necessary for practice, but that it is UNIVERSALLY agreed that quality trumps quantity.  Have fun!

Best,
ML

Offline Karli

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #22 on: December 17, 2008, 02:31:29 PM
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Offline db05

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #23 on: December 18, 2008, 01:49:23 AM
I forgot to add that keeping a practice log works wonders. My first piano teachers required a notebook to write assignments in, and later on I was the one assigning myself homework, but I try to be more detailed and include practice dates and times. Even though I use a timer to practice, I still try to make sure that it is goal-oriented and not just counting minutes.

So the first thing would be: brainstorm what you would like to achieve by 5 years, 1 year and the next few months. Write your plans and goals on paper accordingly. Checking back to this list regularly will help keep you motivated and focused.

Then keep a practice log and jot down what works for you and what doesn't. What needs improvement and what you've achieved so far. You might have to adjust your goals to fit your progress. Or just to suit your taste, which changes over time.

Hope this helps.
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Offline jpowell

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #24 on: December 18, 2008, 03:06:59 AM
When I have periods at home, I spend all day practising (after I've had a rest from travelling).

I split my time between doing:
- really fine tuning on pieces I know well that I will perform soon
- the in-between stages of learning something around memorizing and getting it in one's hands
- revising pieces I know quite well (and have played quite a bit before) and which are coming up soon
- starting or continuing to memorize new pieces
- looking through repertoire that I might consider programming or recording next year.
- and seeing my friends in town.

There's lots of stuff to do and fun to be had. Never a moment's boredom. And if you don't want to do any of the above, just get up from your instrument and do something completely different.

Offline Karli

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #25 on: December 18, 2008, 03:22:46 AM
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Offline furtwaengler

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #26 on: December 18, 2008, 03:34:32 AM
Karli, how on earth do you find time to make such wonderful, elaborate, and thoughtful contributions to this website with your schedule? I do think you are a deeper thinker than I, but more so, it seems like it flows out of you. Iíd have to sit down and think and proofread for a long time to approach what you seem to express and type up in a minute.

And may I ask what it is, the program you are working on? Iím curious and love looking at programs. 
Don't let anyone know where you tie your goat.

Offline db05

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #27 on: December 18, 2008, 07:50:10 AM
Karli, how on earth do you find time to make such wonderful, elaborate, and thoughtful contributions to this website with your schedule? I do think you are a deeper thinker than I, but more so, it seems like it flows out of you. I’d have to sit down and think and proofread for a long time to approach what you seem to express and type up in a minute.

I second the question.
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I'm burning like a bridge for your body

Offline mike_lang

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #28 on: December 18, 2008, 12:49:34 PM
Karli, how on earth do you find time to make such wonderful, elaborate, and thoughtful contributions to this website with your schedule?

I imagine it is because she is always thinking, rather than thinking only when externally compelled.

Offline Karli

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #29 on: December 18, 2008, 02:01:14 PM
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Offline pianoperformer

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #30 on: December 19, 2008, 01:34:11 PM
Thanks everyone! My email notifications stopped for some reason, which is why I haven't been in this thread for a few days.

Karli, thanks so much for your replies.

I find it interesting what you say about tasks. I just thinking of the pieces I have to practice as several sections that I need to improve, and not as tasks that can be completed, so to speak.

For instance, Iíll usually pick out two sections Iím having trouble on, that are somewhat close in proximity to each other in the piece, and alternate between them, a few minutes on one, a few minutes on the other. I just try to improve them. Then when I start making stupid mistakes on one, or just get tired of it, I practice it slowly through a couple of times and move on.

But itís not time sensitive. I could spend an hour doing this, or three hours. Of course, if I made it a goal to get through every section I was having trouble with, then thatíd probably take a while. Should I do something like that?

Iím a little disappointed. I tried to make my practice schedule for the practice rooms next semester, but Iím only allowed to select three hours a day. I was embarrassed, because I initially selected quite a bit more than that. I told him (the chair of the piano dept) that I felt like it wasnít enough.

Offline Karli

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #31 on: December 19, 2008, 02:25:11 PM
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Offline pianoperformer

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #32 on: December 19, 2008, 02:44:16 PM
Karli,

Can you give an example of what kind of tasks you would set for the day, or for a practice session?

Letís say I have several measures on some page of the piece that Iím having difficulty with. I have trouble with speed, and tripping over some of the notes. How would you break this down into tasks you can accomplish?

I think having tasks to complete, and completing them, would make me feel a lot better, because this piece is huge and rather intimidating.

Offline Karli

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #33 on: December 19, 2008, 05:06:27 PM
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Offline Karli

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #34 on: December 20, 2008, 02:14:27 AM
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Offline pianoperformer

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #35 on: December 21, 2008, 01:28:34 AM
Sounds good, Karli!

I might start a practice journal, too. I had a major breakthrough yesterday. I was having trouble with the run in the beginning of the piano concerto Iím learning; the left hand wouldnít go fast enough while descending in the first 16 notes or so. Well yesterday, I did a few things, like playing the same notes in the right hand, and then in the left, playing them at the same time, and one after the other. I tried playing softly and loudly.

And something clicked and it worked, and I could go a lot faster, and it was a lot cleaner. :D

I want to write things like this down, to see in the future.

Now if only that arpeggio would click in the same way.

Let me know how your practice schedule overhaul goes.

Offline Karli

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #36 on: December 21, 2008, 05:15:38 AM
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Offline a-sharp

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #37 on: December 25, 2008, 05:30:47 PM
I agree with max of 3-5.

Practice has to be focused and goal-oriented to be the most effective - and your brain needs breaks in order to function properly (as do your hands).

When you sit down to practice - try to have a goal in mind for a particular segment of time.

I would personally *not* focus on speed... speed comes after the mechanics start to feel natural - I think we all (myself included) try to force speed too quickly. We're anxious to get the piece up to 'performance tempo' ...

As Karli said - a time limit can be helpful. I don't typically *choose* to set a time limit on my practicing - life tends to do that for me. :) ... But I find when I know I've only got a 2 hr or less window, I tend to get more done. Especially if I've got a lesson or a performance coming up. That is always "motivating."

Good luck. It's a challenge to balance it all and still feel like we're making music. :)

Offline kapenta87

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #38 on: January 18, 2009, 05:13:41 PM
The best way to proceed is to listen to your body!  You need to be in-tune with yourself and be able to feel when you have pushed yourself enough.

To start, you have to practise in blocks to enable you to step back into the comfort zone:

30mins
break
30mins
break ... etc.

once you're good with that, do 40 mins before having a break, but thats the limit.

As an advanced pianist, and to really gain results, you should be doing a total of 4 hours practice a day (the ACTUAL practice time - not including breaks! So if you do 4 hours:  thats 6 lots of 40 mins, with a 10-20 minute break in between each one.), with an aim of moving up to 5 hours a day.

Ideally, this should be done as 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon, then when you are doing 5 hours practice - make it 3 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon.

A really good way of making progress (people agree and disagree on this one, but you have to find out what works for yourself) is to allocate a target to each 40 minute period.  Set your alarm for 40 mins and when it goes off, STOP - don't continue and don't work on that part again that day/that session.  No matter how much more you think you need to work on it, you have completed your allocated time and need to move on.  Come back to it the next day.

So for example:

1st 40mins = learn the notes of a new piece till the bottom of the page/to a certain point
BREAK
2nd 40mins = focus on the 8 bars in 3rd movement of Beethoven Sonata that you've having trouble with
BREAK
3rd 40mins = work on the octave jumps in the Beethoven sonata that aren't very good yet
BREAK
4th 40mins = work on the ending of the Liszt Consolation
BREAK ... etc

The most important thing is to find a balance between pushing yourself and going to far - if you start to feel any tension or strain, ou need to stop - even if your 40 minutes isn't up!
Good Luck!
x

Offline pianoperformer

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #39 on: January 18, 2009, 05:52:47 PM
kapenta87, wow, that's a great response. Thank you!

My only concern is that it might be detrimental to work on a single part for 40 minutes, depending on how small the part is. For instance if I'm having trouble with a few measures, I usually go until I start making stupid mistakes I wouldn't usually make, which is my sign I'm overpracticing it. For a small part, I usually put a limit of 10 minutes.

Just my personal experience. Otherwise, that's great advice, and I'll try to adopt it.

Offline rachfan

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #40 on: January 18, 2009, 07:54:41 PM
The AMOUNT of practice time invested in repertoire has little to do, ultimately, with success in performing it.  Rather, what counts far more is the QUALITY of time spent, however limited it may be.  The key then, before even sitting at the piano, is to have in mind a specific practice strategy for that session.  Having a plan ensures that time will be used efficiently and effectively.  For example, if three pieces are scheduled for a two-hour slot, the plan for the first piece might be:

Goals: 1) Play the LH alone a few times to ensure the many ties there are being held for their full values;  2) Do technical drills on two short cadenzas in the RH.  3) Use the metronome to help straighten out unusual rhythmic patterns on page 2.

For the second piece:

Goals: 1) Work on voicing of top notes in sequential octaves and chords to better project the melodic line;  2) Choreograph the wrists and hands to resolve an awkward clash on page 3, and to smooth out that passage for both hands;  3) Practice RH leaps in the coda to make them more secure.

For the third piece:

Goal: Polish nuances throughout the piece and the timing and expression of the climax.

This focused approach makes the most of every minute and second available. The other point I would make is that in practicing, deep concentration is everything.  While it's imperative that the pianist listen to each and every note to verify whether or not aims are being achieved, it's even more imperative that he/she hears those notes!  Once concentration loses its grip and spurious thoughts enter the mind, then errors begin creeping into practicing and it's time to leave the piano and do something else. 
       
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline goldentone

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #41 on: January 19, 2009, 07:00:29 AM
Excellent post, Rachfan! :)
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #42 on: January 19, 2009, 11:13:48 AM
To my students who study piano full time I am always concerned about the quality of time, as rachfan mentioned. Generally if anything becomes difficult to understand or memorize there is something missing in your experience at the piano that encourages this. I tell all my advanced students to take stock of what troubles them then we consider it in the lesson and try to determine why it causes that slight inefficiency in learning.

This can be understood by sight reading the entire score both hands immediately. Tempo is irrelevant what is important is that you are using the correct fingers and can overall feel how the hand will control the group of notes and where it moves to from there. I usually have a red pencil to put a line near sections that cause trouble after numerous sight reading trials of the entire score. Maybe after 5 or so complete reading trials we find particular parts where we constantly muck up or get lost, these must be highlighted. There are of course certain parts which we make mistakes however know that we can do it with a little more repetition, these do not have to be highlighted out so much. We really want to identify parts which feel like a speed bump in our ability to sight the piece.

This requires that all that consider studying piano full time have a sight reading standard that allows them to identify which parts of the score cause them strife. If you have poor sight reading skills then this procedure is long and drawn out and thus the quality of time you spend studying your pieces falls. If we find we are spending a lot of time identifying the ground in which our technique/fingers must exist upon in the desired piece, then we must encourage our sight reading abilities which will act as an overall catalyst to our present and future progress.

Instead of measuring your progress in units of minutes or hours, measure it in bars per day learnt, or set yourself way points in the score where you desire to be.

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Offline term

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #43 on: January 19, 2009, 07:49:12 PM
Quality and quantity are not mutually exclusive. There is a balance between those: You can be very focused and make quick progress, but it will be exhausting and you can't do it for long; - or you practise for hours and don't make progress. If you want to increase practise time, make sure you actually use the time you spent at the piano to the maximum. If you don't, then reduce practise time. The end result is the measurement and the only thing that counts. Practise time alone means nothing. You may find yourself struggling much more with doing something efficiently rather than going through endless hours of repetitions wasting your time.
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Offline mike_lang

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Re: How to increase practice time
Reply #44 on: January 20, 2009, 02:01:47 PM
Quality and quantity are not mutually exclusive.

I could not agree more, but for many, they ARE, if you mean quality of time spent and quantity of time spent.  Either one spends an intense, laser-focused half hour at the piano working toward complete mastery of a passage, or one becomes for hours on end an auto-repetiteur to a singer who is not paying attention. 

I believe it was J. Lhevinne who said, "If there is a single note which you do not hear, do not think you have been practicing." 

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with a vast amount of repetitions or hours of practice, but to quote one more, Mr. Shakespeare said: "Words without thoughts never to heaven go."  To practice for hours on end or to repeat a passage hundreds of times is to tempt the devil, but if the concentration can be maintained, then we will have marvelous results.  The biggest challenge to the artist is to maintain for several hours the concentration which any fool can maintain for five minutes.  Piano playing, the craft, can be done in short periods of time with impeccable efficiency, but pianism, the art, should be done for long periods of time each day, with the same amount of efficiency, or rather, concentration.  Should not the artist who wishes to remain continuously mentally present on stage for a program of an hour and a half, or even two hours, be able to maintain this state for a much longer time than this in practice? 

Is it a symptom of this age in which many recordings are studio recordings that have been spliced an unholy amount of times, with grafts from the countless takes, semi-takes, hemi-semi-takes, etc., that no one can any longer hold on for an entire hour, or four, or eight, or however long it takes to produce what is necessary, with a consistency of quality?
 

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