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What practice-diets yield the most results? (Read 4511 times)

Offline Mayla

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What practice-diets yield the most results?
« on: July 09, 2004, 06:05:04 PM »
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline bernhard

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Re: What practice-diets yield the most results?
«Reply #1 on: July 09, 2004, 11:26:59 PM »
Opinions are not that important. Get the real answer:

1.      Select two Haydn sonatas (or any other two pieces – I am just using your example) of similar difficulty.

2.      Learn one of them by being very commited, religious and systematic in following a plan.

3.      Learn the other without a definite plan.

4.      Compare results (how fast you learned each? How well can you play each? How accurately can you remember each? Etc.)

It is called the “scientific method”. (By the way, the results may surprise you).

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)

Shagdac

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Re: What practice-diets yield the most results?
«Reply #2 on: July 10, 2004, 01:08:18 AM »
I was curious as to why Bernhard wrote:

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(By the way, the results may surprise you).



I was just wondering if perhaps most people would think that in order to acheive good results, a well thought out, schedule type of plan would be best?

How much memorization do you think takes place when one is learning the piece? And why do you think some pieces are memorized by the time you are done learning the piece, and others are not? Is it just a matter of the simplicity/difficulty of the piece?

S :)

Offline bernhard

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Re: What practice-diets yield the most results?
«Reply #3 on: July 10, 2004, 01:43:47 AM »
This is a very interesting question.

Here is my experience:

1.      Common sense is usually wrong. (What? 100 000 lemingues are wrong?). The reality of any situation is usually so far-fetched that common sense would dismiss it immediately if it was not for the results of experimentation. Take the basic concepts of physics. Things like gravity, or Newtonian forces (how many of you can really say that they understand the law of action/reaction?). Or think about the idea that the earth is a sphere turning around itself and turning around the sun. These ideas seemingly fly in the face of common-sense and even the evidence of the senses (according to which the earth is flat and does not move at all). So contrary to what most people seem to think (common sense again) science is not about observation, but about experimentation. This means that many times the most well argumented case may be destroyed by the simples experiment. There fore, when doing an experiment one must be prepared to be surprised. It is well possible (it certainly has happened to me) that a piece learned by a chaotic method was learnt more efficiently than by a methodical, well planned and systematic approach. And vice-versa. Ultimately it depends on the person and on the piece. However as your knowledge of yourself and of the repertory piles up, you will be able to predict more and will need to experiment less.

2.      Memorisation is the key to everything. However, I prefer to use a more inclusive word. I like to use familiarisation. Learning a piece is basically the process by which your familiarization with different aspects of the piece increase to the point where you finally “know” it. Exactly like knowing a person means basically that you get familiarised with that person, to the point where you can predict with great accuracy how that person is going to respond to different situations. Usually travelling with a person is one of the best ways to know him/her (and that is why there are so many road movies: it is a very good artefact to get to know the characters as they react to the different situations the trip exposes them to). Like wise, you have to “travel” with a piece in order to truly know it. You have to get “intimate”. And that means exposing the piece to as many different situations as possible and figuring out how the piece will react. Hence I am a great supporter of practice variations, and of performing in as many different circumstances as possible.

3.      Certain pieces are more difficult to memorise/get familiarised with mostly due to their complexity, not necessarily technical difficulty. Chopin Op. 10 no. 1 is a formidably difficult etude, and yet is extremely easy to memorise: the difficulty is technical, not structural. Structurally is a very simple piece. But counterpoint is always a nightmare to memorise because you have several melodic lines interweaving. Hence a Bach fugue while technically may not be as difficult as a Chopin etude, it certainly will be far more complex and therefore it will take longer to get truly familiar with. And of course, there are always certain pieces that are as difficult technically as they are complex structurally. Te great majority of the piano repertory is not that difficult once you get thoroughly familiarised with it.

4.      After 5 centuries of tonal music, we are very familiarised with its main idiom. So some pieces may be difficult not because they are complex, but simply because the idiom is totally unfamiliar. This is the problem with a lot of modern music. You have to first listen to it a lot. And I mean a lot. Then you get used to it. Then it suddenly becomes easy. It is like learingin a foreign language. The most silly sentences become impossible (e.g. “This is a book”) if spoken in a truly foreign language (Swedish?). On the other hand, the most complex reasoning (Heidgger, Wittgeinstein) is easy to follow if in your native language.

5.      So as far as I am concerned practice is nothing more and nothing less than the process by which you become totally familiarised with a piece of music. The interesting thing is, once you start seeing practice in this way, not only it becomes hugely enjoyable as it becomes incredibly efficient, since now you have a yardstick to measure your practice in terms of its purpose. Just ask the question as you practise: Is what I am doing serving the purpose of making me more intimate, more familiar with my piece/the technique I need to play my piece?

Is that what you asked?

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)

Shagdac

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Re: What practice-diets yield the most results?
«Reply #4 on: July 10, 2004, 02:13:15 AM »
Yes Bernhard, that is what I asked. Sometimes I read what you write, and I feel so utterly CONFUSED,,,,,...but by the end I know what you mean, and can't believe I was confused in the first place. Of course, memorization is simply familiarization!!! That makes perfect sense. And when I think about, just as some people....there ARE pieces that I choose to become familiar with, and those I do not. Does that make sense at all? When I'm learning a piece...if I'm really into it, and am trying to FEEL everything....I definately have it memorized by the time I have learned it. On the other hand, if I am learning a piece, not one I particularily enjoy, it IS very difficult for me to memorize.

...and your're right!!!
Common sense DOES surprise us! Even when we think we are level headed! I guess it's the situation that provokes the difference in common sense and complete ludicracy. Sometimes what one thinks they are capable of, is changed drastically by environmental influences!

Thanks Bernhard for your insight!
S :)

Thanks

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: What practice-diets yield the most results?
«Reply #5 on: July 10, 2004, 02:57:37 AM »
I usually never know how to respond when someone says "use your common sense".  This statement is so flawed - how do you respond to it?

Common sense would tell me to kick his ass.

"Hey, you told me to use my common sense and it told me to kick your ass!" ;D

Offline ahmedito

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Re: What practice-diets yield the most results?
«Reply #6 on: July 10, 2004, 03:17:10 AM »
I had a big breakthrough a couple of years ago.... I realized that there is a flawed practice regimen that ddnt work for me. That regimen ould consist of looking at a piece as if it were a video game, just finishing levels....
I would practice hands separate or variations just for the sake of doing it without any conciousness of familiarizing myself with the piece.
At first, I decided to start memorizing the pieces from the beggining, but as Bernhard pointed out, I realized that this memorization helped me incredibly when it became familiarization.... view ANY piece as if it were 3 blind mice, or somthing extremely simple (after all, its just pressing keys in the right order as Bach used to say), then I just started to observe the piece and play through it, at a comfortable speed.... whenever I stumbled or had to stop, I started to look more closely at what was going on...

When I changed my focus from trying to practice for the sake of practicing, to just learning the piece with a definate goal of playing it as soon as possible and learning all I could about it... that is when I found a practice diet that REALLY worked for me.
For a good laugh, check out my posts in the audition room, and tell me exactly how terrible they are :)

Offline Mayla

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Re: What practice-diets yield the most results?
«Reply #7 on: July 10, 2004, 03:23:28 AM »
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline bernhard

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Re: What practice-diets yield the most results?
«Reply #8 on: July 10, 2004, 09:14:17 PM »
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Yes Bernhard, that is what I asked. Sometimes I read what you write, and I feel so utterly CONFUSED,,,,,...



These days, if you are not confused, it is probably because you are not thinking clearly! ;D

Quote

Of course, memorization is simply familiarization!!! That makes perfect sense. And when I think about, just as some people....there ARE pieces that I choose to become familiar with, and those I do not. Does that make sense at all? When I'm learning a piece...if I'm really into it, and am trying to FEEL everything....I definately have it memorized by the time I have learned it. On the other hand, if I am learning a piece, not one I particularily enjoy, it IS very difficult for me to memorize.


I was just now listening to “Erinerung” (Schumann Op. 68 no. 28 ).

The first time I ever heard to this piece (as a teenager), I had no clue what it was all about. It seemed a pleasant enough tune.

Under the title (in my edition) a date: 4 November 1847  At the time I assumed it was the date of composition.

Many years later, having become a curious person, I decided to dig further, and of course it is the date of Mendelssohn’s death.

The whole piece changed from that moment. Not anymore just a pleasant piece, it suddenly became a poignant and powerful evocation of Mendelssonh’s personality (he was a thoroughly nice guy), his unjustifiably untimely death (at only 32), his amazing musicality (he was the most celebrated child prodigy since Mozart) and talent (he was also a superlative painter and writer), all enmeshed with his friendship for Schumann, his championship of Schumann’s romance with Clara.

Many people say that Schumann’s year of song was mostly inspired by his approaching marriage to Clara. It has been argued (and I agree) that Mendelssohn was probably a far more important influence.

So suddenly this simple piece – with a most appropriate title: “Remembrance” -  becomes a glimpse on a whole universe of interlinked associations of the most profound kind: love and friendship, the meeting of like minds (Clara, Schumann, Mendelssohn, all musicians in their prime), the unbelievable loss, all the music that will never be, all the music that came to be as a consequence, the fight of excellence against mediocrity (the band of David against the philistines), and more.

All that is now part of that piece for me. I have been to the places where it all took place a long time ago. I read the letters of the people involved. I empathised with their dreams and aspirations.  I felt their suffering. So in the end knowledge of the notes can only go so far, and getting familiar with a piece of music must also necessarily involve partaking of the personal universe from which such music once sprung.

And yes, I agree with you that there are people I do not feel drawn to – as with certain music pieces. And yet I cannot help but recall what Gandhi once said: “There goes a man I intensely dislike. I must get to know him better.”

But I guess I am digressing. ;)

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

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Re: What practice-diets yield the most results?
«Reply #9 on: July 10, 2004, 09:18:29 PM »
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I usually never know how to respond when someone says "use your common sense".  This statement is so flawed - how do you respond to it?

Common sense would tell me to kick his ass.

"Hey, you told me to use my common sense and it told me to kick your ass!" ;D


Yes, kicking ass is a good answer. Kicking balls is good too.  ;D

But usually I tend to point out that 100 000 lemingues cannot possibly have got it wrong. 8)

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 Snappy Joe

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Re: What practice-diets yield the most results?
«Reply #10 on: July 10, 2004, 10:08:54 PM »
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This is a very interesting question.

Here is my experience:

1.      Common sense is usually wrong. (What? 100 000 lemingues are wrong?).



"Even if 6 million people say something stupid, it's still stupid.."
"Musical literature is a field far too little cultivated by productive artists, and if they continue to neglect it they will have to bear the consequences and to pay their damages." F. Liszt

Offline cziffra

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Re: What practice-diets yield the most results?
«Reply #11 on: July 11, 2004, 07:17:45 AM »
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Even if 6 million people say something stupid, it's still stupid


take the nazis, for example.

anyway...to support bernhard's point, i thought it would be fitting to quote heinrich neuhaus- for those of you who don't know, he taught both emil gilels and sviatoslav richter, this passage comes from his book "the art of piano playing."

"The most intense and strenuous work i've had to do in all my life:
When i was seventeen to eighteen i tackled for the first time Beethoven's op 106, the Hammerklavier.  I tackled it with enthusiasm and thought of it constantly away from the piano, when walking, bathing, dining.  On going to bed i read it until i fell asleep.  i dreamt of it in my sleep and it sometimes happened that in my dream i would get "stuck" in the fugue and couldn't remember how it went on; i would wake up and start reading from the place i had got stuck.  this happened more than once.  as a result of this kind of "work" i learnt the whole sonata from memory in exactly six days.  sometimes i took much longer to memorise much easier pieces because i did not have that tremendous will.  
during those six days i did nothing else, i didn't even read a book."

lest i mention that this sonata goes for around about 40 minutes and is extraordinarily and diversely difficult from start to finish?  talk about familiarisation!
What it all comes down to is that one does not play the piano with one’s fingers; one plays the piano with one’s mind.-  Glenn Gould