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Topic: feeling a bit overwhelmed  (Read 2882 times)

Offline Tash

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feeling a bit overwhelmed
on: November 27, 2004, 06:07:52 AM
yesterday i had my lesson in which we were discussing what pieces to play for Amus, which was all very exciting cos there were so many things i want to play! and so we picked out a mass of stuff for the time being, 10 pieces i think, and i'm not used to having so many unlearny pieces at once. like before i'd pick a couple, learn them a bit and then get a few more. she doesn't expect me to start learning all of them this week, but just the number of pieces is starting to overwhelm me about. where do i start? how many should i start attempting for now? because i find learning pieces to take a lot of concentration and therefore don't want to overdo it and have a million badly played pieces for the first few weeks, but i also don't want to fully learn a few and then have neglected half the others. any advice?
'J'aime presque autant les images que la musique' Debussy

Offline rachlisztchopin

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #1 on: November 27, 2004, 06:57:20 AM
take it easy...i did the same thing a couple of weeks ago at my lesson too...what i did is i brought the music books that contained the pieces i liked to the lesson (which was like 10 music books...of course i couldnt bring them all so i just brough 1/1000th of my collection  :P) and picked out about 10 pieces too..about two from baroque, two from classical, two from romantic, two from impressionist/modern/contemporary...and even two piano concertos *excited*
well i discussed the pieces with my teacher and we basically sight read through them and learned maybe a couple of measures of each part of each piece and eliminated the pieces i didnt want to play yet or were too advanced for me or too easy or whatever..so i have about 5 pieces now that im learning...thats my advice...dont learn 10 pieces at once (unless they are short like chopins 24 preludes or so) i recommend you learn 3-5 pieces at a time prefferably 5 from each era(including a piano concerto if you want)
well i hope that helps Sooomewhat
by the way....what 10 pieces did you choose?

Offline jazzyprof

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #2 on: November 27, 2004, 07:07:43 AM
You might try organizing the pieces according to the similarity of the technical challenges they present.  So, for example, if a couple of the pieces have lots of arpeggios bubbling under a melody line (like Chopin's Etude Op. 25, No. 1 and Schubert's Impromptu Op. 90, No. 3) learn them together.  It will go faster this way as the two reinforce each other.  As mentioned above, you should limit yourself to actively learning no more than 3-5 pieces at any one time.
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy, next to my wife; it is my most absorbing interest, next to my work." ...Charles Cooke

Offline Daniel_piano

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #3 on: November 27, 2004, 09:27:44 AM
yesterday i had my lesson in which we were discussing what pieces to play for Amus, which was all very exciting cos there were so many things i want to play! and so we picked out a mass of stuff for the time being, 10 pieces i think, and i'm not used to having so many unlearny pieces at once. like before i'd pick a couple, learn them a bit and then get a few more. she doesn't expect me to start learning all of them this week, but just the number of pieces is starting to overwhelm me about. where do i start? how many should i start attempting for now? because i find learning pieces to take a lot of concentration and therefore don't want to overdo it and have a million badly played pieces for the first few weeks, but i also don't want to fully learn a few and then have neglected half the others. any advice?

I'm learning currently 16 pieces at a time
Two sonatas, eight studies, 2 czerny, 1 english suite, 1 impromptu and 1 lyric piece

This is how how organize them and this way is working for me:

Firstly I sightread them all hand separate
Anytime I notice there a spot with I have problems with I mark it with my pencil
I repeat the same process for the left hand
After sightreading them all I should have a lot of marked spots in each piece
Now I just focus on those spots and forget about all the rest
Since I end up with 10 spots to practice per piece in this way is like 10 pieces were really no more than 3 pages
So, by only practicing the spot I've marked I'm practicing 16 pieces while actually working on a numbers of bar the lenght of a piece or two
So, it's not 16, it's 2 .. kind of
For each spot I alternate left and right hand every 120 seconds or less until all rythm, reading and coordination problems are solved
When all HS marked spots are perfect I sightread again all the piece but this time hand together
Like the first time I mark only those spots where I have coordination  problems and rhythm problems and focus only on them
You will notice that by practicing just the marked spots HS you have perfectioned also the spots you haven't practiced because they presented no problems
Do the same thing I did HS this time HT
When all the marked spots are all learned I start perfection them
I work first on the piece flow, playing without interruption
And eventually I practice the expression and dynamic
Even when I've already mastered a spot I keep repeating it the next day so has to activate post practice improvement

Daniel
"Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask "Why me?" Then a voice answers "Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.""

Offline rachlisztchopin

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #4 on: November 27, 2004, 07:20:02 PM


I'm learning currently 16 pieces at a time
Two sonatas, eight studies, 2 czerny, 1 english suite, 1 impromptu and 1 lyric piece

This is how how organize them and this way is working for me:

Firstly I sightread them all hand separate
Anytime I notice there a spot with I have problems with I mark it with my pencil
I repeat the same process for the left hand
After sightreading them all I should have a lot of marked spots in each piece
Now I just focus on those spots and forget about all the rest
Since I end up with 10 spots to practice per piece in this way is like 10 pieces were really no more than 3 pages
So, by only practicing the spot I've marked I'm practicing 16 pieces while actually working on a numbers of bar the lenght of a piece or two
So, it's not 16, it's 2 .. kind of
For each spot I alternate left and right hand every 120 seconds or less until all rythm, reading and coordination problems are solved
When all HS marked spots are perfect I sightread again all the piece but this time hand together
Like the first time I mark only those spots where I have coordination  problems and rhythm problems and focus only on them
You will notice that by practicing just the marked spots HS you have perfectioned also the spots you haven't practiced because they presented no problems
Do the same thing I did HS this time HT
When all the marked spots are all learned I start perfection them
I work first on the piece flow, playing without interruption
And eventually I practice the expression and dynamic
Even when I've already mastered a spot I keep repeating it the next day so has to activate post practice improvement

Daniel











i would call you insane  :P

Offline jazzyprof

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #5 on: November 27, 2004, 08:24:31 PM

I'm learning currently 16 pieces at a time
Two sonatas, eight studies, 2 czerny, 1 english suite, 1 impromptu and 1 lyric piece

Hmm....I counted only 5 pieces there, which is about the limit for any rational attempt at learning significant pieces simultaneously.  The Czerny and the eight "studies" are exercises...unless of course those "studies" are Chopin etudes.  You're not going to learn them for performance any more than you're going to "perform" Hanon exercises. 
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy, next to my wife; it is my most absorbing interest, next to my work." ...Charles Cooke

Offline Daniel_piano

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"Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask "Why me?" Then a voice answers "Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.""

Offline Daniel_piano

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #7 on: November 27, 2004, 09:01:17 PM

Hmm....I counted only 5 pieces there, which is about the limit for any rational attempt at learning significant pieces simultaneously.  The Czerny and the eight "studies" are exercises...unless of course those "studies" are Chopin etudes.  You're not going to learn them for performance any more than you're going to "perform" Hanon exercises. 

Czerny op.740 studies are more like Liszt etudes
Not only they're not short (unfortunately) but they'e also highly musical and beautiful, so much that they're even performed at concertos
You can't play them like you would play Hanon
I think many people here would never consider the n.50 an exercise

Daniel
"Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask "Why me?" Then a voice answers "Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.""

Offline bernhard

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #8 on: November 27, 2004, 10:49:30 PM

i would call you insane  :P

Insane? Quite the opposite. His system is completely rational and lucid. And his results bear witness to it.

I myself never work on less than 30 pieces a month (It does not mean that I complete 30 pieces in a month, since some of the pieces may take longer than that – it just means that at any day I will be working on 30 or more different pieces). Also I guess you would not call all of them "siginifcant pieces", although they are all repertory worthy, and pieces that I love to play.

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 jazzyprof

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #9 on: November 28, 2004, 12:00:59 AM

I'm learning currently 16 pieces at a time
Two sonatas, eight studies, 2 czerny, 1 english suite, 1 impromptu and 1 lyric piece

Quote
I myself never work on less than 30 pieces a month (It does not mean that I complete 30 pieces in a month, since some of the pieces may take longer than that – it just means that at any day I will be working on 30 or more different pieces). Also I guess you would not call all of them "siginifcant pieces", although they are all repertory worthy, and pieces that I love to play.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
   

My only point was that you're not going to be learning 16 significant performance pieces simultaneously, which has a bearing on Tash's original post about feeling overwhelmed with 10 pieces.  You're certainly not going to memorize that many pieces simultaneously, and at this level, learning and memorizing should be synonymous.  Tash mentioned "discussing what pieces to play for Amus" which I suppose is some exam perhaps?  So she has to have those pieces perfected by a certain time, perhaps a few weeks down the line.  And she probably has a life in addition to piano.  You're not going to perform a piece under exam conditions that you have not played a thousand times securely and from memory.  Sure, Bernhard can work on 30 pieces a month but he teaches piano full time, has done this sort of thing all his life, works on the pieces that his students are learning.  You certainly don't want to give the impression that a student is inadequate if she is not working on 16 pieces simultaneously. 

So, getting back to Tash's original question, are you and Bernhard suggesting she start learning all 10 pieces simultaneously and is that the best way to achieve mastery in preparation for an exam?  Wouldn't it be better to break them down into smaller groups?    


     
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy, next to my wife; it is my most absorbing interest, next to my work." ...Charles Cooke

Offline Daniel_piano

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #10 on: November 28, 2004, 12:06:08 AM
Quote
So, getting back to Tash's original question, are you and Bernhard suggesting she start learning all 10 pieces simultaneously and is that the best way to achieve mastery in preparation for an exam?  Wouldn't it be better to break them down into smaller groups?   

The question was not directed to me, but ihmo tash should start learning all the "hard spot" of the 10 pieces simultaneously
Working on the whole piece doesn't make any sense as you can proceed in learning it if you don't achieve mastery of the technical deminading spots of the piece (usually 20% of the whole score)
She should sighread all the pieces and the mark those spots whe will work on during her practice session
Then she should practice a marked spot for each of the 10 pieces each day
Meaning working on 10 pieces everyday, but working only on the technical demaning parts of it not the whole pieces

Daniel
"Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask "Why me?" Then a voice answers "Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.""

Offline bernhard

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #11 on: November 28, 2004, 12:21:17 AM




My only point was that you're not going to be learning 16 significant performance pieces simultaneously, which has a bearing on Tash's original post about feeling overwhelmed with 10 pieces.  You're certainly not going to memorize that many pieces simultaneously, and at this level, learning and memorizing should be synonymous.  Tash mentioned "discussing what pieces to play for Amus" which I suppose is some exam perhaps?  So she has to have those pieces perfected by a certain time, perhaps a few weeks down the line.  And she probably has a life in addition to piano.  You're not going to perform a piece under exam conditions that you have not played a thousand times securely and from memory.  Sure, Bernhard can work on 30 pieces a month but he teaches piano full time, has done this sort of thing all his life, works on the pieces that his students are learning.  You certainly don't want to give the impression that a student is inadequate if she is not working on 16 pieces simultaneously. 

So, getting back to Tash's original question, are you and Bernhard suggesting she start learning all 10 pieces simultaneously and is that the best way to achieve mastery in preparation for an exam?  Wouldn't it be better to break them down into smaller groups?    


     

I agree with you. It is completley true that I am involved with the piano to an extent that Tash is not. However, my point was not to make anyone feel bad, but to point out that it is possible to work on several pieces at the same time, and that this is a far better strategy than to concetrate on a single (or perhaps 2 or 3 pieces).

However, you cannot work on ten pieces at the same time using the same approach/strategies that you would use with a single piece. So even for Tash with her limited time it is possible to do it. And the reason she feels overwhelmed - and I may be wrong here - is not the amount of pieces, but the approach.

Daniel's approach is excellent, but most people never try it because they are used to work on a single piece at a time. So this may be a blessing in disguise for Tash: in order to tackle her task whe will have to do it in a different way if she is to succeed. I think this is quite exciting! :D

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 rachlisztchopin

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #12 on: November 28, 2004, 12:50:07 AM
well i guess i can try working on 10 pieces at a time... :-\

Offline Tash

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #13 on: November 28, 2004, 01:55:40 AM
this is interesting. daniel's approach sounds kinda freaky cos i'm not used to learning like that, like picking a certain part from each piece would be crazy cos i wouldn't know which part to pick since i can't play any of it!haha, no normally i'll start from the beginning and start with the first section and continue to the next part when i feel somewhat comfortable with that. it'd be interesting to try your method daniel, i just have to work out how i'm going to approach doing so.
btw the pieces i've got are: Chopin- berceuse, etudes op25 no1,2,7,9, waltz op64 no3
Beethoven sonatas op2 n1 and op14 no1
Bach- something from one of the english suites, i haven't gotten the music for this yet, and can't remember which one i'm playing but it's either the prelude and gigue no1 in A, prelude from no2 in A minor, or prelude from no3 in G minor
Debussy- Passepied from the Suite bergamasque

i've done the 3rd movement from beethoven's op14 no1 before so will probably tackle the other 2 movements now, and have played around with the berceuse and waltz a bit.
'J'aime presque autant les images que la musique' Debussy

Offline rachlisztchopin

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #14 on: November 28, 2004, 04:38:38 AM
ok im going to try your method daniel and bernhard
iv picked out pieces with the plus the pieces im already working on
the pieces im already working on: Bach WTC book 1 no. 1, Beethoven Waldstein Sonata, Mendelssohn Rondo Capricioso, Grieg Concerto in A minor (movt. 1), Ravel Pavane for a Dead Princes...Pieces I am going to add: Beethoven Sonata No. 24 Op. 78, Chopin Op 10 no. 1, 3, and 5, and lastly Bartok Romanian Dance No. 1
Sound good? or Sound bad?

Offline Daniel_piano

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #15 on: November 29, 2004, 03:11:02 AM
ok im going to try your method daniel and bernhard
iv picked out pieces with the plus the pieces im already working on
the pieces im already working on: Bach WTC book 1 no. 1, Beethoven Waldstein Sonata, Mendelssohn Rondo Capricioso, Grieg Concerto in A minor (movt. 1), Ravel Pavane for a Dead Princes...Pieces I am going to add: Beethoven Sonata No. 24 Op. 78, Chopin Op 10 no. 1, 3, and 5, and lastly Bartok Romanian Dance No. 1
Sound good? or Sound bad?

Sound good to me

Daniel
"Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask "Why me?" Then a voice answers "Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.""

Offline rachlisztchopin

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #16 on: November 29, 2004, 03:14:56 AM
OK what about memorizing a piece? if you just sightread through it and only work on the technically difficult parts...what about the not techincally difficult parts?
and also what if the whole piece is technically difficult...like a lot of etudes (i mean thats what they are supposed to be....technically difficult right?)

Offline Daniel_piano

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #17 on: November 29, 2004, 05:02:49 AM
OK what about memorizing a piece? if you just sightread through it and only work on the technically difficult parts...what about the not techincally difficult parts?
and also what if the whole piece is technically difficult...like a lot of etudes (i mean thats what they are supposed to be....technically difficult right?)

Well there are three stages in piano practice to me:

1) exploratory
2) problem solving
3) performance

The first exploratory phase is when you sightread the piece, analyse it and mark whose bars are harder and in need of the second phase
Note that when you sightread in the meanwhile you learn the easier parts
The second phase is problems solving and it only devoted to hard marked bars
The point is that you can't really play and memorize musically the piece is you have a lot of problem that prevent you from performing it
So first resolve the problems, coordination, rhythm, fingering, movements and so on
When these technical problems are solved you have a piece to learn but with no technical problem any longer
So now, just practice expression, performance, speed and in the meanwhile memorize it

But imo you should pass to the third phase where the piece is treated like a piece with its musicality only after the second phase when, in order to solve all problems, the piece is treated like a collection of musical phrase

I don't know what Bernhard opinion on this is

Daniel


"Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask "Why me?" Then a voice answers "Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.""

Offline jazzyprof

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #18 on: November 29, 2004, 05:44:35 AM
The problem with trying to learn 10 or more pieces simultaneously is that you are not going to be able to commit all those pieces to memory at the same time.  That is why I feel it is best to work on only a few significant performance pieces at a time.  In the approach being advocated here, you will certainly memorize the difficult parts.  The easy parts that you can sight read will provide little motivation for memorization.  In fact the pieces that are easiest to sight read are often the hardest to memorize, partly because you have no need to memorize them.

I think it is best to first spend time memorizing the piece...just get the notes into brain and hands without worrying about playing it at speed.  Then while working on speed and other details of one piece you begin memorizing another.  With our finite-sized brains I think 3 or 4 pieces is the maximum one can realistically attempt to memorize quasi-simultaneously.   And it is best to acquire a large repertoire of memorized pieces while you're still young.  I've heard of what happens to memory cells as you age! :)
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy, next to my wife; it is my most absorbing interest, next to my work." ...Charles Cooke

Offline rachlisztchopin

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #19 on: November 29, 2004, 06:27:00 AM
ok thats what i was thinking jazzy...memorize pieces first, work on technical difficulties later

Offline Daniel_piano

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #20 on: November 29, 2004, 06:37:32 AM
The problem with trying to learn 10 or more pieces simultaneously is that you are not going to be able to commit all those pieces to memory at the same time.  That is why I feel it is best to work on only a few significant performance pieces at a time.  In the approach being advocated here, you will certainly memorize the difficult parts.  The easy parts that you can sight read will provide little motivation for memorization.  In fact the pieces that are easiest to sight read are often the hardest to memorize, partly because you have no need to memorize them.

I think it is best to first spend time memorizing the piece...just get the notes into brain and hands without worrying about playing it at speed.  Then while working on speed and other details of one piece you begin memorizing another.  With our finite-sized brains I think 3 or 4 pieces is the maximum one can realistically attempt to memorize quasi-simultaneously.   And it is best to acquire a large repertoire of memorized pieces while you're still young.  I've heard of what happens to memory cells as you age! :)


The point imo is that it's not much meaningful to memorize a piece where there are still lot of problems to solve
If you had to memorize a chinese poem and there were lof ot words you don't know how to proununce would you memorize it at once or would first focus on those hard words pronunciation starting memorizing only when you don't have pronunciation problem any more?
So I think in piano it's far more better to start memorizing only when all the hard bars become easy bars
Then you memorize by performing your piece
But imo first place should be devoted to hard chunks problems solving and only after that memorization work should begin

So basically is work on isolated technical difficoulties first and memorize later
I don't see the usefulness of memorizing a piece full of non solved technical difficoulties, it's like a memorizing a poem without knowing how to pronounce the words

During the working on isolated technical difficoloulties phase you're working on isolated segment not the piece, so there's no need to memorize
When every thing is even you can memorize the whole piece by performing it

Daniel
"Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask "Why me?" Then a voice answers "Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.""

Offline jazzyprof

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #21 on: November 29, 2004, 07:33:11 AM

During the working on isolated technical difficoloulties phase you're working on isolated segment not the piece, so there's no need to memorize
When every thing is even you can memorize the whole piece by performing it


I beg to differ here.  You should be memorizing the difficult bars at the same time as you are resolving whatever difficulties they present.  Once you've worked out the fingering and have an understanding of the correct movements needed... as well as the melodic and harmonic structure of the offending passage... close the score and get to work on memorizing that passage while beating it into submission.  I do not not subscribe to the "solve problems now, memorize later" approach... but as they say in my neighborhood, different strokes for different folks.
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy, next to my wife; it is my most absorbing interest, next to my work." ...Charles Cooke

Offline Daniel_piano

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Re: feeling a bit overwhelmed
Reply #22 on: November 29, 2004, 05:48:05 PM


I beg to differ here.  You should be memorizing the difficult bars at the same time as you are resolving whatever difficulties they present.  Once you've worked out the fingering and have an understanding of the correct movements needed... as well as the melodic and harmonic structure of the offending passage... close the score and get to work on memorizing that passage while beating it into submission.  I do not not subscribe to the "solve problems now, memorize later" approach... but as they say in my neighborhood, different strokes for different folks.

Now if I've understood Bernhard way right:
he would use piano practice sessions to solve technical problems in the hard sections of the piece using a "spot practice" strategy
While he would use "away-from-the-piano practice" to work on rhythm problems and memorization

Daniel
"Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask "Why me?" Then a voice answers "Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.""
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