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Those who can play 126+ on the metronome (Read 7227 times)

Offline nick

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Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
« on: July 18, 2004, 04:01:13 PM »
This question is for those who already can play 126 and above on the metronome. Once the notes are memorized and learned very well, is the goal speed achieved by:
A. increments- starting slowly and moving the metronome up a couple of numbers at a time until desired speed is reached. By the time the goal is reached all of ones practice repetitions are at the goal speed. All repeats are perfectly accurate.

B. Practicing slowly all repetitions of a section, and once in awhile trying 20, 30 or 40 #'s higher on the metronome to see how progress is coming. All repeats are perfectly accurate except possibly the "testing" one.

C. Practicing at a fairly difficult speed, medium high, and once in awhile trying the goal speed. All repeats perfect except possibly the "testing" one.

There are I am sure other possibilities and maybe combinations of the above. I would love any suggestions that have been proven to work. I will even like to hear the ones that don't.

Sincerely,
Nick  

Offline abe

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #1 on: July 18, 2004, 08:32:32 PM »
nick,
sorry that I'm not going to answer your question but I have a random question of my own to ask you. There is a thread identical to this one on another piano forum (www.pianoworld.com or something), are you the creator of that thread as well?
--Abe

Offline nick

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #2 on: July 21, 2004, 03:42:26 AM »
Yes Abe, it is the same Nick there also.
Nick

Offline cellodude

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #3 on: July 21, 2004, 09:07:15 AM »
Quote
This question is for those who already can play 126 and above on the metronome. Once the notes are memorized and learned very well, is the goal speed achieved by:
A. increments- starting slowly and moving the metronome up a couple of numbers at a time until desired speed is reached. By the time the goal is reached all of ones practice repetitions are at the goal speed. All repeats are perfectly accurate.

B. Practicing slowly all repetitions of a section, and once in awhile trying 20, 30 or 40 #'s higher on the metronome to see how progress is coming. All repeats are perfectly accurate except possibly the "testing" one.

C. Practicing at a fairly difficult speed, medium high, and once in awhile trying the goal speed. All repeats perfect except possibly the "testing" one.

There are I am sure other possibilities and maybe combinations of the above. I would love any suggestions that have been proven to work. I will even like to hear the ones that don't.

Sincerely,
Nick  


Try this.

D. Practice at speed or at 150% of MM immediately. Do not do any of A, B, or C. Of course you wouldn't be able to do that (play at speed or 150% of MM) for the whole piece.

Practice HS (Hands Separate). Break it down into phrases, bars or even beat if you have to. For example, if you have a piece in 4/4 and you have a portion that has 8 demi-semiquavers to a beat, practice that plus one or two notes in the next beat (the hook) at 150% of MM. [NB from now on, when I say beat it can also mean bar or phrase or page or whatever group of notes that makes musical sense.]

When I say "practice" I mean repeat that beat over and over again (at speed or faster) with one hand until it BEGINS to tire. It is important that you don't allow your hand to actually feel tired. Then switch over to the other hand and repeat (at speed or faster) until it begins to tire. Then swithch again, etc.

When you're able to play the whole beat HS at speed (or faster), then try HT (Hands Together) again at speed or faster. It is important that you must attempt all this at speed or faster. When you can do one beat go through the whole sequence with the next beat. Then string them together by playing through the 2 beats HT at speed or faster. Repeat until objective is reached i.e. you can play the whole piece at speed.

It may sound very tedious but this method actually allows you to learn a piece faster than A, B or C above. It also takes care of memorizing a piece. Actually, when you use methods A, B or C above you will hit a speed wall pretty soon and you find that you are not able to go any faster than say 80 or 90 when you really want to play 126 MM.

There are other considerations as well like getting a good nights sleep in between practice sessions to allow PPI (post practice improvement) to take effect (for more details search for Bernhard's description of PPI on the PPI thread), practicing the most difficult passage in the piece first, doing short practice sessions rather than long ones, etc. BTW, you may not need to do this for the whole piece, just do it for the part that is giving you problem.

TTFN (Ta Ta For Now),

dennis lee



Cello, cello, mellow fellow!

Offline Hmoll

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #4 on: July 21, 2004, 04:49:13 PM »
Playing what at 126 bpm? What is the significance of this 126 bpm? It has no meaning.

Play music at your level, at the speed you can play it.
Do more slow practicing than fast practice. Speed up gradually. Break up the piece into small sections. Identify the sections that give you problems, and focus on them. They may be just three note of a passage. Don't rely too much on the metronome.

Also, there's lots of stuff written here on practicing. Do a search.
"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me!" -- Max Reger

Offline nick

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #5 on: July 22, 2004, 01:51:54 AM »
Thanks to those who gave me feedback.
I have done some experimenting with the hands separate practice at a very fast metronome speed, faster than needed, and worked in very small sections. What eventually happened is because of this push for speed, the notes were becoming lighter and lighter. After some time I started hating the sound of the notes. They were not down to key bottom. It may not have been the method but other factors. I currently am doing some hands separate practice on the most difficult parts once I see what seems to be the problem. Mostly in left hand I have a passage where the pinky which is sitting on its note to be played, just before depression rises upward, as though strained. The feeling is not a smooth transference of the weight from finger to finger like the rest of the passages. It becomes a bit lighter. So as I do separate practice, I concentrate on the feeling of equal weight and many times it comes out perfect, others not. I am now at 88 on the metronome with very strong mf sound. I am hoping that is a day more or so, this part will every time be perfect and then I can go to 92. I have heard people say when you go faster you must play light. This must not be true as I have heard many good pianists up close play very fast and powerfully fast runs. I like the sound I get the way I am doing it, and just hope it continues to get faster and the recordings I have heard sound best in the range of 120. Many are much, much faster but I don't care for that speed.
As for 'doing a search', I have read many practice routines of others, but liked to hear specifics on my own question.
Nick

Offline cellodude

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #6 on: July 22, 2004, 08:16:50 AM »
Hi Nick,

Good to see that you are treating this as an experiment. You should try as many suggestions as you can get and use what suits you best.

What I have described above works for me (for now; I am also open to change) but I may not have done a good enough job of describing the whole process so I will try to add some explanations here.

I would like to clear up a couple of things. One is why you need to play at speed (meaning at indicated speed) right away and another is why the repetitions. But before that, let's get the definition of technique out of the way first. I realize that technique is something that has as many definitions as there are people trying to define it. Nevertheless, I will try to describe what I understand technique to mean.

To me technique is the sequence of movements made by the music making (or piano playing) mechanism i.e. our fingers, hands, forearms, upper arms, shoulders and even the rest of the body like chest muscles, diaphragm, back muscles, the gluteaus maximus (yeah, that would be your butt) and down to the legs to bring about a 'proper' execution of the music score in front of us. Included in 'technique' is the musical aspect of the piece (interpretation)  i.e. if the dynamics call for cresc. then the 'technique' that you use must enable you to play cresc. Technique must also allow you to do phrasing, slurs, legato, etc. that is to say the totality of the music you are playing.

Well, what are these movements? There are various names given to certain movements and some say there are thousands or hundreds of thousands of techniques. Gyorgy Sandor in his book 'On Piano Playing' groups them into 5 main groups and talks about combinations of them so I guess that would account for the thousands. They are i) free fall (or gravity drop), ii) five-fingers, scales and arpeggios, iii) rotation, iv) staccato, and v) thrust.

Of course, how each of us go about executing these movements depends on our physique, some of us are endomorphs, some are ectomorphs, some have fleshy palms or thick wrists, some have skinny wrists etc. All these will determine how each of us go about executing those movements or combinations of them. But (and this is very important) the aim of good technique is to hit the keys in such a way that there is no or minimal tension in the piano playing mechanism. This is the over-arching requirement in the search for the 'correct' technique when we approach any piece of music.

Now back to the 2 questions. First, why play at indicated speed as soon as possible? Because the sequence of movements required to play the notes in front of you allegro is different from the sequence of movements required to play the same notes andante or lento. That's why it is not recommended to play a piece slowly HT and then ramp up the speed on the metronome. At a certain point, you will not be able to go any faster. That would be the speed wall and indications would be pain in the playing mechanism typically in the forearms or the back of the hands (sometimes in the shoulders too but definitely not in the butt, that would be caused by a third party like someone talking too much... gulp!)

Now, when you attempt to play at speed the first few times you will fumble and fail because you have not discovered the 'correct' sequence of movements that is required. As you experiment, you try different hand positions. For example the music requires you to go from white keys to black keys. Well, you would need to raise your forearm a little by moving your elbow out slightly. If you are playing broken thirds it will help if you rotate your wrist as you move from low note to high note. And so on and so forth. After a few fumbles you will discover the sequence of movements that will enable you to play that bar, phrase etc at speed with no or minimal tension in your playing mechanism. Now this is what you need to practice.

And this brings us nicely to the second questinon. Why repeat (almost) endlessly? Because you need to remember what the sequence of movements are and more importantly you need to condition your hands to move that way properly. This is different from the endless repetition of Hanon which may be harmful to you if not handled thoughtfully. Conditioning is the key word here. So when I say repeat I assume that you have already discovered the 'correct' sequence of movement for that bar, phrase etc. The sleep in between practice reinforces this conditioning.

Now I'm not sure I understand what you mean by getting lighter and lighter as you practice. Do you mean softer? Since you are not getting the sound that you want it could be that you are not using the 'correct' sequence of movements to make that sound. Experiment some more at speed HS to see if you can get it. That is what I mean by interpretation must be included in the search for the 'correct' technique. If a big sound is called for then the sequence of movements required for that part must allow you to do just that, make a big sound.

I'm not sure what you mean by weight transference. I have heard about the weight method and I noticed you started a thread on that but it went way over my head. Sorry.

Okay, that's about all I have in mind to say for now. I hope I've been of help.

Regards,

dennis lee



Cello, cello, mellow fellow!

Offline cellodude

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #7 on: July 22, 2004, 08:26:56 AM »
Quote
 Now I'm not sure I understand what you mean by getting lighter and lighter as you practice. Do you mean softer? Since you are not getting the sound that you want it could be that you are not using the 'correct' sequence of movements to make that sound. Experiment some more at speed HS to see if you can get it. That is what I mean by interpretation must be included in the search for the 'correct' technique. If a big sound is called for then the sequence of movements required for that part must allow you to do just that, make a big sound.


Sorry I forgot to mention that after you've discovered what the correct sequence of movements are HS you may need to make adjustments when you try HT like when your fingers or hands cross.

Regards,

dennis lee
Cello, cello, mellow fellow!

Offline nick

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #8 on: July 23, 2004, 04:43:00 AM »
Hi Cellodude,
When you said....

I would like to clear up a couple of things. One is why you need to play at speed (meaning at indicated speed) right away and another is why the repetitions. But before that, let's get the definition of technique out of the way first. I realize that technique is something that has as many definitions as there are people trying to define it. Nevertheless, I will try to describe what I understand technique to mean



Reason I want to play at speed or performance speed is I have heard the music played at certain speeds and it sounds great. Slower not as good or expressive of the music's intentions in my opinion, nor faster. It is just a ballpark metronomic speed. I don't expect to reach this speed right away, but gradually over time. I will see.

Reason for the repetitions  is to be able to increase certain passages speedwise. Makes sense to me. I read a book from the library once, 'Interviews with 12 concert pianists', and out of 7 that were asked if they used a metronome, I believe 6 said they gradually increased speed until reaching their speed goal. The other one said he just used it to check once in awhile if parts were even. So that is a pretty high % going with the gradually increasing in speed idea, huh? Today I went up to 92 on the metronome on the tough part I had mentioned  and can repeat it perfect. I am now honest with myself so I won't worry about later saying it really wasn't 'clean' or the sound I wanted. Solid mf sound. No pain anywhere, so I will stay at this speed for a few days at least before moving up. Makes sense to me. Glad you provided some feedback!

Nick

Offline cellodude

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #9 on: July 23, 2004, 08:25:33 AM »
Quote

...
I read a book from the library once, 'Interviews with 12 concert pianists', and out of 7 that were asked if they used a metronome, I believe 6 said they gradually increased speed until reaching their speed goal. The other one said he just used it to check once in awhile if parts were even. So that is a pretty high % going with the gradually increasing in speed idea, huh?
Nick


Yeah, 6 out of seven is a bit high. I guess many pianists do that but unfortunately that doesn't work for me. For many years I was unable to go beyond a certain speed and just couldn't play fast without mistakes and I had no solution to my problem. Not only that but my forearms would also feel as if they were on fire, really painful. I thought Hanon would help so I practiced lots of it but the pain was still there and I still couldn't play fast.

That was until I discovered Chang's book on the internet and I also read Sandor's book referred to in Chang's book. Chang talks about HS practice that was different from the HS practice I was doing. When I started to take note of my hand positions I was able to play without pain and when I tried to play at speed right off the bat I found that I could do it.

I proposed this on another piano discussion board and a poster said she found the books helpful. I then asked how she had been helped and she said the HS practice eliminated the pain in her wrists.

I guess this is not for everybody and I am in the minority but as I said earlier use whatever suits you best. Keep searching.

All the best,

dennis lee

Cello, cello, mellow fellow!

Offline nick

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #10 on: July 24, 2004, 02:55:29 AM »
Ok Dennis, I see your experience sounds like you found the solution. LIke I mentioned, when I tried the 'Chang' method of hs with small parts up to speed until you then string them together, I found the notes coming out softer, lighter. At first I was very encouraged, finding the speed very fast since I was starting up to tempo for the small parts, switching hands after a few repetitions etc. But as time went on, day  by day, I eventually hated the sound! I do know what you mean with pain in the forearm as I have had that before when I was contantly pushing for speed, with the idea that 'no pain, no gain' attitude would work. Now, using weight transference, and only going at perfect speed, I have no pain. I think if there is pain one is going too fast. I find it hard to believe in hittig a 'wall'.  That would mean that you can play perfect repeatedly a certain passage at say 104, but at 106 there is either pain or wrong notes or rhythm or some other irregularity. If one stays at the perfect highest speed for awhile days perhaps, it seems would could progress. That has been my experience lately, so I am encouraged. Time will tell, as time and experience showed me that playing with just fingers didn't work, or just going slowly didn't cause a faster top speed. So you are able to play as fast as your goal with the sound you want? That is great if so! Let me know.
Nick  

Shagdac

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #11 on: July 24, 2004, 06:33:46 PM »
I have also used Cellodude's described method, as far as starting out very fast....then slowing down to where I can play correctly. I always used to start off slow, then increase the metranome speed of a click or 2, and perfect it each time before raising it. After I read the suggestion by Bernhard (you really should look up previous information given on a subject, just use the keyword "metranome" and search under all topics)...I began using that way after seeing how much time it saved me. Also, it worked well.

Also, I did want to mention. That I work on speed AFTER I know the notes. Meaning, I do not learn the speed at the same time I am learning the notes. I learn the whole piece thru as far as know the notes....then go thru and perfect whatever needs work.

I have also found that if I am experiencing a great deal of fatigue or as you describe "fire" in my arms,shoulders, forearms, wrists or fingers....USUALLY it is due to me not relaxing enough. I will tire very easily if I am tense....I have found if I am doing all things correcting, I will hardly ever tire...or tire to the point of having to stop. If I am having to use say alot of wrist technique in one area, I have found that when I reach a different passage, the main focus may be on a different part of body. I can rest one part, while mainly utilizing another. Does that make sense?

Several weeks ago at a lesson, I was really exhausted, and by the time I reached a cadenza (RH), my fingers were SO tired they could barely push the keys down! My teacher who was watching the whole time explained he could tell how tense I had been and knew I would be tired out by the time I got there. He was right. He showed me to how to properly use my body for the several lines previous to the cadenza so as to not be tense, or wear myself out, and by the time I got to the cadenza that time...I was not tired in the least.

Its also important that whatever effort or strength you "put into" a note...that you allow yourself to release it as well. Otherwise you are giving, and giving, and never relaxing.

I understand what you mean by the keys getting lighter the faster you go. At least I think I understand. Are you saying that the faster you go, it's almost like you begin to "skim" the keys instead of actually pushing them all the way down?  This can be rectified simply by practicing and really know the notes (at least for me). Once I really know the notes, I don't really see much difference in playing something at 100 or 130. Yes, one is much faster, but its just a matter of practice. The fast to slow method works best for me. I remember learning Ah!Vous dirae je mamon (excuse the spelling) the variations by Mozart on "twinkle twinkle". that is played extremely fast. If I remember correctly, the setting was about 168 or so on that piece.

I think when you reach a certain speed, perpetual motion, kind of keeps you going! If you find yourself skimming the keys insteead of actually playing all the way, then I would practice doing HS each measure/line as fast as possible playing each key all the way.

Not sure if anyof this will help, but works for me.

S :)

Offline nick

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #12 on: July 24, 2004, 08:14:05 PM »
Thanks Shagdac for the indepth description. When you said you used to use the slowly increasing method with metronome, but found the Chang method faster, did you mean that it did work, that you achieved the desired speed, but that it just took longer?
Also, if I find this slowly increasing method does not work I will surey go back the the chang style and perhaps play more repetitions on smaller parts concentrating on more weight on each note so as to not 'skim' over them. That is exactly how it sounded. I heard the notes but they were not 'solid' like they are now. When I listen to cd's of great artists on the pieces I play, the notes are very solid, to the bottom on the mf fast passages. I do want that sound. As far as pain goes, I had a teacher who advocated raised high fingers, moving as fast as possible. Ouch! When I complained, he said' everyone at Julliard was doing that in the practice rooms when I was there'.  I would be surprised. Talk about forearms on fire!
Later,
Nick

Offline MikeF

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #13 on: July 24, 2004, 09:04:02 PM »
I too use the method described by Chang in his internet book.

Reenforcing what others have said here, I find key points to include (1) HS practice while focusing -- and I mean focusing -- on finding just the right choreography for your playing apparatus (fingers, hands, wrists, arms, etc.) and (2) starting with two notes -- yes only two notes -- in the phrase and getting it right -- in both speed and tone (including loudness) -- before adding a third note -- and so forth.

Someday, we might understand how the body learns such complex coordination well enough to achieve the most efficient way of learning to play piano. Meanwhile, I. like all of you, continue to read and experiment to find what works best for me.

Offline MikeF

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #14 on: July 24, 2004, 09:25:46 PM »
Just a few more points.

(1) Often when adding the next note in the phrase, the fingering and the choreography have to be tweaked for the previous notes to enable best playing of the added note. As one continues to apply this one note added at a time method, one soon learns how to anticipate the best fingering and choreogrpahy for the entire phrase.

(2) There is nothing sacred about adding only one note at a time. After awhile, one starts to recognize familiar multi-note patterns and so will start to add one pattern at a time.

(3) Regardless of the learning method, I think its inescapable that mastery of difficult pieces is going to involve a lot of practice and patience. I know that's a truism, but the point is I'm convinced of it, at least for myself.

Offline nick

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #15 on: July 25, 2004, 05:19:42 AM »
Hi MikeF. When you said:

Reenforcing what others have said here, I find key points to include (1) HS practice while focusing -- and I mean focusing -- on finding just the right choreography for your playing apparatus (fingers, hands, wrists, arms, etc.) and (2) starting with two notes -- yes only two notes -- in the phrase and getting it right -- in both speed and tone (including loudness) -- before adding a third note -- and so forth

if my current method of slowly increasing speed doesn't work, I will be sure to add more arm weight to the quick succession of notes to avoid that 'skimmed' sound, where some notes aren't as loud as the others. I must continue with the inching up method to see if it continues to work, or I will never know. I used to practice in rhythms years ago, in groups of 2 notes then 4 mostely, then sometimes eight. I did get faster, but I had the same feeling, that all notes were not the same volume. Besides, I really hated practicing like this as it is soooooo different from the music.  Thanks a bunch for the thoughts! and happy practicing!
Nick

Shagdac

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #16 on: July 25, 2004, 10:13:20 AM »
Yes, Nick that method DID work for me. By starting at a very fast pace, and then going slower each time, I was able to reach the desired speed. Also, let me emphasize that this method does not take me LONGER, it actually saves time. At least in my personal learning experience. I don't necessarily add on 1 note at a time, I only work at speed after I know the notes...well. Then it only takes a very short time to get the speed correct. Usually after I know the notes, but before I try to play fast...I will just go thru the motions as fast as possible. This can be done with the lid down, on top of a desk, etc. Just to get used to the motion and movements my body will have to make quickly. I try and analyze what parts I'm going to be using, and pratice this motion, over and over and over (not playing on the actual heys yet), just to kinda prepare myself. THEN I start on the keys, and again....I'm not concerned about even hitting the right notes at first...just going thru the motions as quickly as possible and being in the general area of where I need to be. I'm still more concerned with my body movements at this time. Once I feel confortable with that, then I try the first line as fast as possible, slowing down just alittle each time until I can play it....but barely. Then I practice at that speed till I have it. It usually doesn't take long. Actually a few times when doing this, the time I reach where I can play it, is surprisingly FASTER, then what I actually was trying to reach. This has only happened several times though. But even when not, I have found this method a much faster approach (for myself anyway).

The only time I am playing very slowly, is usually when I am learning the notes, and the techniques, and making sure I have the Dynamics understood....really working thru the piece. By the time I have this completed, the piece is memorized, it's just a matter of getting it up to speed if I have not already done so. I didn't even know this was actually the "Chang" method. I just started doing it this way after Bernhard gave some advise, it worked, so I've stuck with it, and kinda tailored it to my specific needs.

Good luck. Hope it works for you too!
S :)

Offline nick

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #17 on: July 25, 2004, 10:38:32 AM »
Sounds great Shagdac! Just in case I hit some 'wall' with the inching up to speed approach, let me understand correctly. When you said:

then I try the first line as fast as possible, slowing down just alittle each time until I can play it....but barely. Then I practice at that speed till I have it.

you mean you start out faster than your goal speed on a passage or a few notes, where you cannot play it perfect, and then slow it down a little at a time until you almost can play it perfect, and then repeat at that speed until it is perfect? Does that mean that this speed might be slower than your goal speed? If so, do you then repeat the process and hopefully you will find your 'almost perfect speed' higher than the previous time?
Nick

Offline nick

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #18 on: July 25, 2004, 10:41:55 AM »
Shagdac, forgot a point. When I said

Thanks Shagdac for the indepth description. When you said you used to use the slowly increasing method with metronome, but found the Chang method faster, did you mean that it did work, that you achieved the desired speed, but that it just took longer?

I meant did the incremental speed increase with metronome work, but just more slowly.
Nick

Shagdac

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #19 on: July 25, 2004, 11:22:43 AM »
Yeah, I guess it worked, just took much longer. Okay, after I know the notes, and by that I mean I pretty much have it memorized. This is not something I work on doing, it just happens over the course of going over and over something to learn the notes.
Anyway....

I practice on any surface, or close the lid...and get the motions down. Moving as fast as I can. Once I have know what is going to be required of my body (shoulders/forearms/wrist/etc..) then I practice on the keys. I don't know the speed at first (am not using a metranome). I just try and play as fast as hunmanly possible (for me). I'm not worrying about hitting the right notes at first...just still going thru the motions. I set the metranome usually very high, sometimes as high as it will go. I cover the display so I cannot see what number it is on. Then I slow just a little. I continue doing this, until I have slowed to a speed where I am "just" playing it. But I am hitting the correct notes, etc. This is the speed I begin at. Usually I am not far from where I want to be. I have ALWAYS been closer to my goal doing it this way than starting slow and building up the other way. Also, by covering the display on the metranome ( I usually use the wind up kind with the pendalum), I can't play any games...meaning it's kind of a mental thing with me. If I know its set way too fast, I automatically will think...no, I need it slower. By not being able to see the setting, I have no idea what speed I AM able to start at until I reach it, then I uncover the tape and am usually not far off.

Also, let me add it DID take some getting used to, when I switched to this method. It did not feel entirely comfortable at first. I questioned if it really was faster or not. But after using it several times and trusting it, it truly did make a difference. I am only speaking for myself though.

Thanks
s :)

Offline bernhard

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #20 on: July 25, 2004, 02:36:51 PM »
Quote
Hi Cellodude,
When you said....

I would like to clear up a couple of things. One is why you need to play at speed (meaning at indicated speed) right away and another is why the repetitions. But before that, let's get the definition of technique out of the way first. I realize that technique is something that has as many definitions as there are people trying to define it. Nevertheless, I will try to describe what I understand technique to mean



Reason I want to play at speed or performance speed is I have heard the music played at certain speeds and it sounds great. Slower not as good or expressive of the music's intentions in my opinion, nor faster. It is just a ballpark metronomic speed. I don't expect to reach this speed right away, but gradually over time. I will see.

Reason for the repetitions  is to be able to increase certain passages speedwise. Makes sense to me. I read a book from the library once, 'Interviews with 12 concert pianists', and out of 7 that were asked if they used a metronome, I believe 6 said they gradually increased speed until reaching their speed goal. The other one said he just used it to check once in awhile if parts were even. So that is a pretty high % going with the gradually increasing in speed idea, huh?


Just a few observations on the above:

Just because 6 out 7 pianists claim to use the gradual metronome approach does not mean that this is an appropriate approach.

1.      This is not a random sample. The interviewer may have just picked up as luck would have it, the pianists who used such an approach.

2.      Even if this was a properly conducted random sample and it could be shown 86% of pianists used such an approach, would that give it legitimacy, prove that it was correct, or be the right thing to do? Since when 100 000 lemingues cannot possibly be wrong? Some of the ideas on efficient piano practice are very old, but some of the ideas are very recent.

3.       A lot of pianists do not like to disclose their practice methods to the general public (and to other pianists). Some are pranksters (Glenn Gould comes to mind) and relish making outrageous or misleading remarks. Most importantly many pianists who are able to play superbly well have absolutely no clue how they do it, or how they got there in the first place. Most started too young to remember how they acquired the basic skills (of which the ability to play at speed is one). If they had a teacher who insisted on “traditional” methods, like Hanon and the metronome, they may just keep talking about it through inertia. To research new methods is a lot of work. These guys being interviewed are not teachers.researchers/pedagogues. They are performing artists. They may not have the time or the interest to investigate such matters. When an interviewer asks this sort of totally basic question, they are a bit at a loss to answer. They do not understand what is the big deal: “How does one get to play fast? er… you play faster, you move faster…” The interviewer insists: Yes, but how come I cannot do that? “Well, you have to start slow and gradually increase the speed, Ah yes, you use a metronome…” You get the idea.

4.      Just because something works (assuming it works) for 90% of the population does not mean that it will work for you.

5.      You need a teacher knowledgeable about these things to actually show you. Maybe you can get it from a limited written account/book. Most likely you interpret what you read in a personal way and end up doing something quite different from what you understood from the written account (this is not a criticism on you, just an acceptance of the limitations of written instructions).

6.      Both Hmoll and Dennis Lee (and everyone else, actually) gave you excellent advice. It does not matter if this advice goes against what you read in an interview. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Just give it a try. But not a half-hearted try. Give it all you get. Do not dismiss it straight away. In fact, give it the same effort you gave the gradual metronome method – which I suspected did not work very well, since you asked the question in the first place.

7.      Here is the best way: Choose two different passages/pieces of similar difficulty. Practise one by the gradual metronome method. Practise the other using Dennis Lee suggestions. Compare results. Tell us the results.

8.      Finally, have a look here for more discussions on this subject:

http://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=stud;action=display;num=1087278993


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 MikeF

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #21 on: July 25, 2004, 06:44:25 PM »
I'm relatively new to this forum. So I'm sure I'm repeating what countless others here have said in stating how much I appreciate your posting, Bernhard.

I'm in the process now of searching through your past postings.

Offline nick

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Re: Those who can play 126+ on the metronome
«Reply #22 on: July 27, 2004, 03:25:35 AM »
Thanks Shagdac and Bernhard! Good arguments in favor of not using the gradual metronome method for increasing speed. In fact, I am so intrigued I am trying the 'Chang' method for the second time, with a few changes.

First a couple of points. When you have a high percent of concert pianists that play obviously extremely well,and they say they use the gradual metronome method for increasing speed, I think it is fair to attribute some credence to the method. NO, it is not proof it will work for me, or anyone else, but I think it logical to give it a try for a period of time. After all, unlike the world being flat, there is physical proof these pianists can play at a clear fast speed.

Other point is when I make a decision to do something, it is (I try) based on 3 factors. 1. What other experts do to achieve it.  2. What my own experience has proven to be true. 3. What I think about the information from the 1st two points. This is what led to the gradual metronome method.

I switched to this smaller parts super fast gradually adding notes method because many others on this site admit to its success, it won't take long to see if it works, I can always go back to the gradual slower way, ( I was increasing at a rate of about 1 metronome # a day, and since I was up to 92, it would take about a month more to reach my goal), and I had tried it before and made progress but had a problem, so I may make some change to correct rather than abandon the method. This method may be more effective in saving time, getting to the point of speed quicker. I agree about Gould talking some nonesense. He said in an interview once that he could teach anyone anything important about how to play the piano in 30 minutes, and then at other points said he could never teach anyone to play because he doesn't know how he does it.( the centipeade argument for those familiar) However, I am sure many have had great success with the gradual metronome method, as there would not be so many saying so. I see no reason for misleading here.

My 2 session of this method have been good, and I think where I went wrong in the past is taking two large a section after working on the smaller parts, rather than gradually increasing a note until the passage is complete. I now started with about 4 or 5 notes on most passages since it was easy( one most difficult spot just 2 notes). Metronome at 144. So I hope this is why I had the impression the notes didn't come out strong enough in the past, because I had too large a section and the fingers couldn't handle it. Also I remember fingers being tired on the 4th or 5th day of this super fast playing. Again, maybe too large a section for muscles to adapt to at once. Thanks again to those who gave feedback and as you know by now, I will surely give my updates. ;D
Nick