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Your 5 best practice tips? (Read 1606 times)

Offline bernadette60614

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Your 5 best practice tips?
« on: September 02, 2016, 05:15:40 PM »
I'm wandering over from the student's section of the forum to ask teachers here what are their 5 best practices tips.

There is so much written about practice, and then debated that it becomes overwhelming.

Thanks!

Offline keypeg

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Re: Your 5 best practice tips?
«Reply #1 on: September 13, 2016, 12:32:47 AM »
While the ubiquitous poster is getting all the attention, albeit negative and being implored to stop, this question has been sitting here for days and I'd be interested in the answers from teachers myself.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Your 5 best practice tips?
«Reply #2 on: September 13, 2016, 04:58:25 AM »
Have a goal each time you sit down to practice, measure your work in terms of completed tasks rather than length of time.

Avoid brute force repetition in hopes that mindless repetition will automatically solve everything.

Set a timetable to work from, don't just practice whenever you feel like it, write it into your daily plan, organize your time.

Have an overall view of works you have studied, are studying and will study. Not knowing what to play next or where you are going can make you feel like you are floundering about just playing random music, motivate yourself with the work.

Play for someone, if you just play for yourself all the time there is no pressure to improve.
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Offline vaniii

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Re: Your 5 best practice tips?
«Reply #3 on: September 14, 2016, 02:21:24 PM »
1. Slow down; take the time to work out positions, patterns and fingers.

2. Listen; are you simply pressing the keys in the right order, or are you producing the require sound.

3. Do not look at your hands; often student practice 'buffering' where they look at the page then play, only to look again after a few measures. This creates fragmented learning, which ultimately will happen the final performance, ie memory lapse or stops.

4. If you can minimise wrong notes in the first sitting, then they are less likely to occur in subsequent  play-throughs.

5. Once you understand the music, don't be afraid to let go.  Often it only takes one efficency play through for the brain to recognise and digest; being cautious for too long, can often inhibit progress.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Your 5 best practice tips?
«Reply #4 on: September 15, 2016, 06:37:58 AM »
Have a goal each time you sit down to practice, measure your work in terms of completed tasks rather than length of time.

Avoid brute force repetition in hopes that mindless repetition will automatically solve everything.

Set a timetable to work from, don't just practice whenever you feel like it, write it into your daily plan, organize your time.

Have an overall view of works you have studied, are studying and will study. Not knowing what to play next or where you are going can make you feel like you are floundering about just playing random music, motivate yourself with the work.

Play for someone, if you just play for yourself all the time there is no pressure to improve.
Excellent advice, all of it.  Thank you.

Offline richardb

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Re: Your 5 best practice tips?
«Reply #5 on: September 17, 2016, 02:01:21 PM »
Agreed. Thank you lost and vaniii for those practice tips. They've helped already.  Anyone else?

Online j_tour

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Re: Your 5 best practice tips?
«Reply #6 on: September 17, 2016, 06:50:20 PM »
Have a goal each time you sit down to practice, measure your work in terms of completed tasks rather than length of time.

Avoid brute force repetition in hopes that mindless repetition will automatically solve everything.

Set a timetable to work from, don't just practice whenever you feel like it, write it into your daily plan, organize your time.

Have an overall view of works you have studied, are studying and will study. Not knowing what to play next or where you are going can make you feel like you are floundering about just playing random music, motivate yourself with the work.

Play for someone, if you just play for yourself all the time there is no pressure to improve.

Absolutely agree, especially with the first, second, and especially the fourth (while I'm a big fan of "chunking" longer works into little bits, it only really makes sense if you have the big picture in your head, IMHO).

The bit about having a timetable, I'd say is something everyone should evaluate for their own temperament/needs.

I think I got the idea from a former poster -- Bernhard, perhaps -- here, about using (diligently, as in every single day) little "micro-sessions."  I incorporated this into my practice over the past year, with good results.  It's basically the most efficient way for me to learn new pieces and keep smaller pieces in my active repertoire.  My brain, and perhaps others' brains, really does seem to thrive when letting my "subconscious" do most of the work of organizing material.  

It helps that I spend a lot of time in my home office, which is the next room over from my home studio, so probably twenty times a day I'll just spend two or three minutes doing a very focused little micro-session.  It could be anything -- working on some patterns or even just regular octatonic scales HT in thirds or b5 or dim7s, playing a Beethoven Bagatelle, playing a short Bach dance movements, or doing, say, thirty bars of a longer piece I'm learning, or doing some metronome work.

You know, while waiting for water to boil to make some tea, or just taking a leg-stretch from reading or doing computer stuff, just jump on the piano.

Seems to work for me, not that there couldn't be a place for an extended session, but at the moment I don't have a need to work up some new huge concert-level piece, so it's about perfect for my needs.

ETA, of course, I should mention that this clearly wouldn't work for everybody:  basically while my total time playing/practicing is really only .... I don't know, three or four hours at the most ... it really does take all of a sixteen-hour day to get in the time.
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Online j_tour

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Re: Your 5 best practice tips?
«Reply #7 on: September 17, 2016, 06:56:22 PM »
2xpost
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Your 5 best practice tips?
«Reply #8 on: September 20, 2016, 05:11:53 PM »
Excellent advice, all of it.  Thank you.
You're welcome keypeg.

These are very easy to write down and understand but to put it to action for the long term that's the challenge. Avoiding brute force repetition for instance is not easy because if you don't know how to think your way through the passage you unavoidably do this. So it is a rather loaded bit of advice because it is implying that you need to improve your practice craft and you generally need a good teacher for this

The bit about having a timetable, I'd say is something everyone should evaluate for their own temperament/needs.


Setting a timetable I think needs to be done with everyone whether it is written in your mind or on paper (better on paper because I believe in the saying "What gets written gets done"). Some hate to work from one but the more organized you are the better you will be able to manage your discipline. Discipline towards work is the monkey on everyone's back, hardly anyone is naturally motivated to achieve 100% of their awake hours. If everyone HONESTLY worked every day in a structured manner they would see large improvement sooner than later, I have never met a single person who hasn't. It is such an important issue that if I catch my younger students right out lie about practicing too many times I will be a little harsh and tell them, you don't have to convince me that you practiced, you must be honest to yourself because you know what is the truth. Too many live in fantasy or in what they can make others believe, they are not truthful to themselves, this limits progress a huge amount.
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Offline dogperson

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Re: Your 5 best practice tips?
«Reply #9 on: September 20, 2016, 05:55:48 PM »
Interestingly, through four highly-qualified teachers, not one has asked me how I practice nor discussed how to make it more effective.    Now, as a returning piano student, I  realized that the way I have practiced was inefficient, have done my own research on finding 'a better way'  and adapted.

I always practiced  (even for hours as a small child) -- but inefficiently.  I guess because my teachers saw results, they never asked how I was doing it.    Pity.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Your 5 best practice tips?
«Reply #10 on: September 20, 2016, 07:20:42 PM »
...So it is a rather loaded bit of advice because it is implying that you need to improve your practice craft and you generally need a good teacher for this.
This goes even for the first thing you wrote in regards to setting goals.  Like, what is a goal?  If I say "I will go through pieces A & B, and scale X today." that is not an effective goal, because what is it that you will be working toward in piece A.  Even if you do have a more specific goal like "fix the icky playing in measures 24 -30", what specifically do you need to do to fix it, and what is causing it to be icky?  A good teacher who has already analyzed this and given the path is an absolute treasure - and also a teacher who guides us toward that kind of thinking as we get more independent.

I was glad to read that you stress that in your own teaching.  May I ask if your teachers did likewise or did you have to figure it out and now make sure to pass this on?    I don't know how common it is to consider how things are practised, and it seems like a sorely lacking thing when it is not taught.

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It is such an important issue that if I catch my younger students lie about practicing I will tell them, you don't have to convince me that you practiced, you must be honest to yourself because you know what is the truth. Too many live in fantasy or in what they can make others believe, they are not truthful to themselves, this limits progress a huge amount.
You are doing those students a huge favour.  In fact, if that wisdom is carried over, it could even make an impact in other areas of life beyond music.