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Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ (Read 5402 times)

Offline quantum

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Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline j_menz

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #1 on: May 03, 2012, 05:07:13 AM »
Thanks for posting, quantum. Should be compulsory reading. :D
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline zezhyrule

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #2 on: May 03, 2012, 05:35:46 AM »
Ah, 'noodling around' on the piano. That's pretty much entirely how I used to practice, before I acquired some self-motivation. Now it seems pretty obvious to me that you should be working on the hardest sections of a piece, and not just stumbling through them to get to your favorite part  :P
Currently learning -

- Bach: P&F in F Minor (WTC 2)
- Chopin: Etude, Op. 25, No. 5
- Beethoven: Sonata, Op. 31, No. 3
- Scriabin: Two Poems, Op. 32
- Debussy: Prelude Bk II No. 3

Offline jonalexher

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #3 on: May 03, 2012, 07:07:15 AM »
really nice article!

thanks for posting :)

Online ted

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #4 on: May 03, 2012, 09:07:00 AM »
I have no doubt the premise of the article is very true for playing pieces and for physical technique. Practice simply makes permanent, good or bad. But what about improvisation I wonder ? What, if anything, constitutes the "practice" side of improvisation ? Is there any practice side to it at all, and if so what precisely ? When improvising, I invariably play to my strengths, never to my weaknesses, which latter course would be self-destructive, so that alone would seem to put improvisation out of the terms of his discussion.

Jarrett has stated that he does not believe it is possible to "practise" improvisation; you either do it or you do not. I know it is possible, indeed very productive, to practise elements of improvisation in isolation - keyboard harmony, physical technique, figurations, rhythm cells, phrasing; I do it every day. But developing all the ingredients to perfection won't make an edible cake.

The only way out of the dilemma seems to be that perhaps every improvisation over a lifetime, starting from the very first youthful fumblings, is at once practice and performance. Performance in that once done, the result stands immutable, for better or worse, as a finished work of art; practice in that its execution, combined with repeated listenings to it, busily grow the musical psyche and feed future improvisations.

Of course I realise the article isn't about this aspect, but my grasshopper mind saw the title and I asked myself the question.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline robson

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #5 on: May 03, 2012, 10:46:51 AM »
good article but this is well know fact yet most of people waste their time for pointless hanon/czerny exercises instead practice only this what gives them troubles in real world playing.

Offline pts1

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #6 on: May 03, 2012, 02:51:14 PM »
Hanon or Czerny or Beethoven or Chopin or Liszt are all an equal waste of time if you don't practice them deliberately.

Do you think a Cmaj scale encountered in Beethoven is really different that a Cmaj scale encountered in Hanon or Czerny?

This article is like .... DUH! Who would have guessed one has to be mentally present when practicing?!

Yes, this article should be required reading for people who think they'll get any where by just
playing Fur Elise over and over while thinking about video games.

Offline pianowolfi

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #7 on: May 03, 2012, 07:52:32 PM »
Do you think a Cmaj scale encountered in Beethoven is really different that a Cmaj scale encountered in Hanon or Czerny?


Yes.

Offline robson

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #8 on: May 03, 2012, 09:29:51 PM »
Hanon or Czerny or Beethoven or Chopin or Liszt are all an equal waste of time if you don't practice them deliberately.

what a nonsense comparison...

Do you think a Cmaj scale encountered in Beethoven is really different that a Cmaj scale encountered in Hanon or Czerny?

yes I do!

Offline pts1

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #9 on: May 03, 2012, 10:22:23 PM »
So, Robson and wolfi,

You don't believe that if you can play a C Major scale in a Beethoven Sonata you will NOT be able to play it in a Hanon exercise?

How curious, I can.

And Robson, you really don't believe you can practice a Chopin Etude in such a manner as to make no progress whatsoever, or iow, practice Chopin in such a way so that its nothing but a "waste of time".

Why, students all over the world do it on a daily basis!
(not ALL students, of course, a good number of them practice effectively!)

You boys are quite curious!

Offline j_menz

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #10 on: May 04, 2012, 12:09:27 AM »
So, Robson and wolfi,

You don't believe that if you can play a C Major scale in a Beethoven Sonata you will NOT be able to play it in a Hanon exercise?

You boys are quite curious!

I believe what they mean (and if they don't I independently now assert) is the exact opposite; that just because you can play a C Major scale in Czerny or Hanon does not mean you can play it in a Beethoven Sonata. If you can do it in  a Beethoven Sonata, the Hanon or Czerny version will be a piece of cake (though will probably bore you to tears).

Beethoven requires that the scale be played with musical purpose; Hanon and Czerny do not.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline pts1

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #11 on: May 04, 2012, 12:33:50 AM »
Quote
Beethoven requires that the scale be played with musical purpose; Hanon and Czerny do not.

I never said you should practice the Hanon and Czerny without "musical purpose", nor do I think you should practice anything just mechanically. Different accents are "musical". Dimenuendo and crescendo is musical. Different touches is musical. There's a wide range of "musicality", not just the deep meaning passions of Beethoven.

When I used to practice my 6 hours and did practice Hanon for a number of months, I practiced it with deliberate intent (or musical purpose, if you will).

And conversely, one can practice Beethoven without musical purpose (its done all the time... just listen at the door of some practice rooms in music schools <g>).

And though its very undesirable, and I care nothing for it, there ARE people who develop very good mechanical techniques void of musicality. So one CAN develop a very excellent mechanism without musical purpose. I believe we have all heard examples of this.

Now I would not use my time this way, but it is possible.

But it seems in general the new vogue in piano is to under emphasize technique.

I have read somewhere that candidates wishing to study at the Moscow Conservatory of Music must be able to play scales at a rate of 132 Octaves per minute (15.4 notes per second).

Whew!

Not scales in Beethoven Sonatas... just plain scales up and down the keyboard, both hands, four octaves probably in all keys. Then I'd imagine they want to hear similar things in double thirds and so forth.

How would you suppose hopeful candidates get to this level of proficiency?





Offline werq34ac

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #12 on: May 04, 2012, 01:19:13 AM »
Quote
Hanon or Czerny or Beethoven or Chopin or Liszt are all an equal waste of time if you don't practice them deliberately.
Agree, Hanon is pointless if you aren't doing it for the purpose Hanon was written for.

Quote
Do you think a Cmaj scale encountered in Beethoven is really different that a Cmaj scale encountered in Hanon or Czerny?
Actually here's where I disagree. It's all about purpose. The purpose of the C major scale in Hanon or Czerny is purely to develop technique. Now we can make the purpose musical by adding dynamics and articulation, but in the end, the purpose is still to develop technique. On the other hand, Beethoven wrote his C major scale for musical reasons, rather than technical reasons.
I can't recall who said this, but someone once said that there are no scales in Mozart and Beethoven; only ascending or descending melodies.

Quote
This article is like .... DUH! Who would have guessed one has to be mentally present when practicing?!
Well it IS a bit obvious, in that all it's doing is reiterating the importance of learning from mistakes but in terms of practice. Too many students fall into the trap of mindlessly repeating something without a purpose. They aren't really accomplishing anything.
On the other hand, you really have to "be in the mood" to practice this way. And it's mentally taxing to force yourself to be in the mood.

Quote
I have read somewhere that candidates wishing to study at the Moscow Conservatory of Music must be able to play scales at a rate of 132 Octaves per minute (15.4 notes per second).

Whew!

Not scales in Beethoven Sonatas... just plain scales up and down the keyboard, both hands, four octaves probably in all keys. Then I'd imagine they want to hear similar things in double thirds and so forth.

How would you suppose hopeful candidates get to this level of proficiency?

Personally I don't see how notes/sec is any indication of proficiency of an instrument. I mean sure, wow that's fast 15 notes per second but is it really necessary?




All in all, technique is important to develop, but the reason we develop it is for musical purposes. If you can't play a C major scale sparklingly clear, you can't play a C major scale in Mozart.

However, why not use something other than Czerny or Hanon to develop technique? For instance, I never did those exercises; I just did major and minor scales and arpeggios.

In my opinion, the C major scale in your Beethoven Sonata is not the place to be developing the technique for a C major scale. You will end up wasting time practicing that scale when you could be practicing other and more difficult aspects of the Sonata.
Ravel Jeux D'eau
Brahms 118/2
Liszt Concerto 1
Rachmaninoff/Kreisler Liebesleid

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #13 on: May 04, 2012, 01:34:21 AM »
Try this one on.

If you are able to play at a virtuoso (or approaching) standard, such as entry to a music school..  improvising using complex patterns on scales, that are structured AND musical should be part of your weapon set. And if you can't, learning that will be far more beneficial to both your technique and musicality than hanon ever will.

Offline pts1

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #14 on: May 04, 2012, 02:16:19 AM »
Quote
All in all, technique is important to develop, but the reason we develop it is for musical purposes. If you can't play a C major scale sparklingly clear, you can't play a C major scale in Mozart.

Bingo!

Quote
In my opinion, the C major scale in your Beethoven Sonata is not the place to be developing the technique for a C major scale. You will end up wasting time practicing that scale when you could be practicing other and more difficult aspects of the Sonata.

Double Bingo!

Now, I don't practice Hanon anymore, or Czerny for that matter, though at the time many years ago I really had to do it to acquire an approximately virtuoso level technique in a short amount of time. (I was going to school in Vienna, Austria and you DO NOT want to get kicked out because you can't live up to the standards everyone else is managing. I did not turn out to be a professional pianist, but that was the direction and crowd I was engaged with. Talk about pressure.)

Like you, I prefer plain scales, arpeggios, etc., for octaves I'll practice Hungarian Rhapsody #6, or the Chopin Polonaise, or Funerailles. But I mostly play for my own amusement now, so raw technique is not my primary aim.

But the original posters question was about which was better, Hanon or Czerny, and like many of these discussions, we've gone off track a bit.

Mostly what I practice for what technique I personally do now is within the pieces, or some of the more technical Bach preludes, and scales, arpeggios, etc., as I mentioned.

Offline robson

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #15 on: May 04, 2012, 07:09:23 AM »
Try this one on.

If you are able to play at a virtuoso (or approaching) standard, such as entry to a music school..  improvising using complex patterns on scales, that are structured AND musical should be part of your weapon set. And if you can't, learning that will be far more beneficial to both your technique and musicality than hanon ever will.

exactly - been practicing Hanon/Cherny unfortunately myself in my youth when I was obsessed with technique and although I got good technique now I know it was waste of time. At that time what I was good at were piano exercises,  scales and sh@#  It didn't benefited me musically or didn't build up my repertoire. In the end when I was to learn some piece it's seldom straight scale but variation on it so I might as well start from there...
Any way now I know hanon/cherny was waste of time, I could develop myself way quicker practicing on musical pieces with selective technical exercises not the other way around.
 

Offline pianowolfi

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #16 on: May 04, 2012, 08:23:35 PM »
So, Robson and wolfi,

You don't believe that if you can play a C Major scale in a Beethoven Sonata you will NOT be able to play it in a Hanon exercise?


That's not what you asked before. You asked:


Do you think a Cmaj scale encountered in Beethoven is really different that a Cmaj scale encountered in Hanon or Czerny?


And I answered Yes.


Offline werq34ac

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #17 on: May 04, 2012, 10:37:35 PM »
exactly - been practicing Hanon/Cherny unfortunately myself in my youth when I was obsessed with technique and although I got good technique now I know it was waste of time. At that time what I was good at were piano exercises,  scales and sh@#  It didn't benefited me musically or didn't build up my repertoire. In the end when I was to learn some piece it's seldom straight scale but variation on it so I might as well start from there...
Any way now I know hanon/cherny was waste of time, I could develop myself way quicker practicing on musical pieces with selective technical exercises not the other way around.
 

It's because you played Hanon/Czerny in your youth that you can "develop myself way quicker practicing on musical pieces with selective technical exercises not the other way around."
As for the variations you mentioned, if you can't play a simple straight scale, then you won't be able to play the variations of that scale. Thus, if you haven't developed the technique for it as you should have already, then you will end up wasting time trying to develop the technique for that particular passage.

Don't get me wrong. I hate Hanon and I never had to use it thank god, but I recognize the importance of practicing technique. Although I'd say once you get into Chopin etudes, it's safe to drop the Hanon.  We may think it's a waste of time now because we already developed the technique beyond Hanon (hopefully, right?), but for younger students and less developed students, they don't yet have the technique.

Why do you think we don't give Rach 2 to 10 year olds unless they clearly have the technique to play it? I mean of course, musicality is much more important than technique since music is about music and not technique, but in order to play musically, you need technique.

I'm not saying Hanon is the bible of technique (probably the Chopin and Liszt etudes are hehe), but whether it be Hanon or just plain scales and arpeggios, you need to be able to play patterns with ease so that you can play their variations with ease.
Ravel Jeux D'eau
Brahms 118/2
Liszt Concerto 1
Rachmaninoff/Kreisler Liebesleid

Offline pts1

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Re: Article: The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
«Reply #18 on: May 05, 2012, 02:12:57 PM »
Quote
It's because you played Hanon/Czerny in your youth that you can "develop myself way quicker practicing on musical pieces with selective technical exercises not the other way around."

I think this is exactly correct.

Often people forget -- and not out of arrogance or malice -- to recognize that much earlier in their development something like Chopin Etudes would have been pointless, counterproductive and quite discouraging.

I think they also may have forgotten that initially playing Hanon may well have been interesting and fun since the patterns were new, and to do it correctly "felt good".

Of course later, one tires of it, no longer finds it helpful, and then -- again not intentionally -- wonders how they could have ever bothered with something so "boring and mechanical."

And "boring and mechanical" is one of the great challenges -- at least for me -- of learning and maintaining difficult classical piano music.

Anything, the most difficult, or beautiful pieces in the literature can become boring or mechanical.

I think its a real challenge to balance music in such a way as to keep it fresh and at the same time maintained.  And I don't think you can learn difficult or complex pieces without working on them a while, putting them aside, coming back to them, etc., over a considerable period of time.