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The ultimate way of learning a piano piece at all? (Read 1001 times)

Offline cuberdrift

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The ultimate way of learning a piano piece at all?
« on: June 20, 2017, 03:10:51 PM »
Hey all,

What do you think is the ultimate way of learning a new piano piece at all, if there is any?

It's a question I've pondered on for days and sometimes it drives me nuts.

I do know - or this is what I think - that the challenge in performing a piano piece at all is to simply play it according to how you imagine it should sound like.

But when you are given a new score,

1) You don't know the notes,
2) You don't know the rhythm,
3) You don't have the technique.

I read that Glenn Gould would study pieces just by looking at the sheet music.
If so he probably had a very high degree of all three factors.

I would imagine, that the best way to lean a piano piece at all, is like this:

You look at the sheet music, can imagine right away how it sounds like, know how to interpret it, and then when you start playing it on the piano everything makes sense already.

What are your thoughts on this?

Regards,
cuberdrift

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: The ultimate way of learning a piano piece at all?
«Reply #1 on: June 20, 2017, 04:20:27 PM »
Of course the "ultimate way" is relative to your skill level. At the end stages of musical development though I agree simply reading through a piece will reveal the way to play it and this only comes since you have a huge experience base with music, a large range of pieces/styles, an understanding of how music is crafted and expressed. If you have strong reading skills then not knowing notes or rhythm is somewhat an obsolete problem. Of course there are pieces which demand incredibly high technical skill and perhaps they might not interest even the best technicians because of the time it takes to learn, we after all only have limited time on this earth.
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Offline cuberdrift

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Re: The ultimate way of learning a piano piece at all?
«Reply #2 on: June 21, 2017, 03:28:51 AM »
Of course the "ultimate way" is relative to your skill level. At the end stages of musical development though I agree simply reading through a piece will reveal the way to play it and this only comes since you have a huge experience base with music, a large range of pieces/styles, an understanding of how music is crafted and expressed. If you have strong reading skills then not knowing notes or rhythm is somewhat an obsolete problem. Of course there are pieces which demand incredibly high technical skill and perhaps they might not interest even the best technicians because of the time it takes to learn, we after all only have limited time on this earth.

The mechanistic aspect of needing to memorize a piece before it can actually be played is what bothers me. I would be interested in finding solutions that would enable me to comprehend the entire music in the shortest time possible, shortening the need to mechanically repeat it many times just to get it in my head.

This is what makes me lazy to practice at all - the need to memorize passages. This repetitious process. I would be interested to know if there is any method at all that would turn practice itself into a creative process, making learning music far more fun and more efficient; if there is any such method at all.

Offline adodd81802

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Re: The ultimate way of learning a piano piece at all?
«Reply #3 on: June 21, 2017, 08:34:53 AM »
Maybe obvious question, but do you necessarily need to memorize? In this wonderful digital age I can have every piece of music I'll ever need on an easily accessible tablet. While certainly not as graceful, I just grab out the tablet, put the piece on and play away, some applications even have 'reading options' to slowly scroll. Maybe consider improving your music reading.

Also when I hear of people reading music and going to play it, I don't think they're necessarily relying on their ability to remember say 500 separate notes, but they are understanding several things about the piece that make it in general easier to memorize, key, harmonic progression, the different stages of the piece, the repetitions e.t.c.

One thing that's interesting is super-memorization is not a new technique, and I wonder if it can be applied to music? We hear of people that can recall 10,000 numeric digits memorized, but certainly not because they're thinking of the sequence, but because they're associating with things they already know. 1=red book, 2=the sun, e.t.c.

Lastly I think experience is a big deal, putting in the initial physical effort so that when it comes to reading the music you can say ' oh just a C major arpeggio' that you've played 1000 times before, or just a D Minor scale, missing the 4th note... Isn't there a Liszt story when upon meeting Beethoven he asked of him to instantly transpose a piece, and he was able to do so having never (assumingly) done this before with this piece
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Offline visitor

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Re: The ultimate way of learning a piano piece at all?
«Reply #4 on: June 21, 2017, 11:19:53 AM »
.

Offline visitor

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Re: The ultimate way of learning a piano piece at all?
«Reply #5 on: June 21, 2017, 11:27:44 AM »
 :)

Offline adodd81802

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Re: The ultimate way of learning a piano piece at all?
«Reply #6 on: June 21, 2017, 12:31:25 PM »
I have attached. it's the strike through icon with [  s ] and [ / s ]
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Offline visitor

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Re: The ultimate way of learning a piano piece at all?
«Reply #7 on: June 21, 2017, 01:05:07 PM »
I have attached. it's the strike through icon with [  s ] and [ / s ]
thanks, so odd i didnt hit that and when i hit modify i dont see it so i can delete it...ill try copy paste and repost reply
 :-\


Offline visitor

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Re: The ultimate way of learning a piano piece at all?
«Reply #8 on: June 21, 2017, 01:06:19 PM »
 :)

Offline visitor

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Re: The ultimate way of learning a piano piece at all?
«Reply #9 on: June 21, 2017, 01:10:31 PM »
If you are having trouble playing a work until you it memorized (per your statements), something basic is grossly lacking.
Repition and physical memory as a means to memorization is inefficient and yeilds incomplete memorization most of the time. It is the most likely to fail you or escape in performance or the momment some aspect of performance condition is different or changes from practice and study conditon.

Having a concious idea of where you are in a piece's structure or form helps you with a mental map of knowing where you are going (ie in a sonata or concerto,  being in a development area or transition to a recapitulation)
Firm understanding of harmony, or tonal centers where there is one is important too.
You should know how a piece and melody should sound, that is leave out a voice, hum or sing it in isolation, of while playing

Test my teacher uses to humble me and expose reliance on muscle memory and show me not truly fully memorized.
1. Play left hand by itself by memory
2. Plat righ hand by itself by memory
3. Place right on on piano desk lyre or fallboard lip, play both hands together so lh plays piano keyboard, then rh plays the fingers but by pressing the hard flat surface vs keys, then reverse

4 truly humble yourself, play the left hand part with right hand, transpose up octave(s) as needes but reproduce the part for lh with right, and flip it, play right hand part down low with left hand. I almost always crash and burn early with this evaluation in lessons ,  but once you really know it and can do this, you are showing evidence of in depth knowledge of the piece and very little risk of
"Having to start over" or go back to a section. Or skip foward to a memory station if you blip out while play.  you  know the piece so well.

Above level of learing cannot be rushed, but progress there is faster if you study the score, do some basic analysis and listening, etc.
Repitition has a place but it should be part and integrated with deep understanding study.

So the faster you fully learn and understand the piece, the fastsr and more fully you will learn it, and you are learning music faster, more completely, then i see that as an "ultimate" way to learn music, to use your word, which in this context i am not sure is the best descriptor or word choice, as ultimate is really "last or , final", but i would set out to learn by this method preferebtially, not as a last choice or resort

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: The ultimate way of learning a piano piece at all?
«Reply #10 on: June 24, 2017, 01:05:48 AM »
The mechanistic aspect of needing to memorize a piece before it can actually be played is what bothers me.
You need not play a piece without the sheets if you have trained your reading skills to a level to deal with that piece. I don't know why it has become considered a requirement to memorize a piece to play it appropriately its just not necessary all the time. I can play tens of thousands of pieces with the sheets but take the sheets away and I would struggle to play them, if I sight read them it doesn't mean I play any worse or with less expression, freedom etc.

Sure some works require some degree of memorization because of the rapid tempo or thick textures but we don't always have to 100% play without sheets. In fact if I play a piece via sight reading enough times it naturally becomes memorized but I still need the sheets to cue some movements. I feel this method is much more enjoyable than forcing yourself to play without the sheets asap.

I used to memorize all my works when I was younger but once I passed my teens I started working hard on my sight reading skills, the mixture of memory work with strong reading skills to me is much more liberating and I have learned so much more music than when I was a pure memorizer. Being able to instantly play a piece with full expression and freedom without ever having seen it or heard it is very empowering.
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Offline hardy_practice

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Re: The ultimate way of learning a piano piece at all?
«Reply #11 on: June 24, 2017, 07:12:03 AM »
@cuberdrift the music is not the sheet, it's the music.  At a very professional level you read the sheet i.e. hear the music.  Once you can hear the music without the sheet you play it.  Going from hearing to playing is no big deal at the highest level.  You only need the sheet because Beethoven is dead.
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