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Chopin - Nocturne in E-flat

The famous Nocturne in E-flat major, op 9 no 2 belong to a set of three Nocturnes, written in the beginning of the 1830s. They were dedicated to Marie Moke Pleyel, a virtuoso pianist and the wife of Camille Pleyel. Read more >>

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Author Topic: Avoiding burnout while learning loads of repertoire in a short amount of time  (Read 363 times)
divided_loyalties
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« on: March 15, 2018, 09:04:30 PM »

Hi all. This is going to be quite a long winded rant, so I apologise in advance. I'll try to provide a TL:DR at the end

I am a South African postgraduate Collaborative Piano major (Honours year) and one of my goals after this year is to audition at a whole bunch of American universities for my Masters. However, the nature of Collaborative Piano's audition requirements is that the repertoire is largely dependent on the repertoire their instrumentalists can play. In other words, they don't ask you to prepare pieces that fit into three or more overarching categories (Baroque, Etude, etc), they have very specific rep requirements, presumably stuff their individual faculty members or students can play with you.

The result now being that I have to learn a load of extra repertoire in addition to the repertoire I have to play for my end of year recitals. In the midst of this all, I still have to write several papers for one of the subjects I'm required to take, as well as a mini dissertation. Granted it's a huge heap of work, but not one I think is insurmountable.

The problem for me is that I'm not really sure how to balance out this workload without driving myself insane. I already have a very accelerated pace, though probably not nearly fast enough, at which I acquire new repertoire (I pushed myself to learn the accompaniment of one of the Brahms violin sonatas roughly at final tempo within 2-3 weeks....for me no easy feat at all because those things are HARD!!!). At the same time, I've also increasingly found it extremely difficult to keep to a consistent number of practice hours. I used to be able to practice 6-7 hours a day, but now I'm finding it difficult to get to 5, a point after which my concentration quits on me and I experience diminishing returns. And some days I feel those heavy tendrils of laziness drawing me in, which at times are really hard to resist.

Has anybody been in this position before? Or can anyone give me some guidelines just on surviving?

TL:DR I have a huge workload with regards to learning new accompaniment repertoire and writing academic papers. What would be the best way to balance it all out in terms of rate of learning repertoire as well as reading up for my papers?

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WORKING ON (Accompaniment)

Brahms- Violin Sonata 3 in d, Op. 108
Prokofiev- Flute Sonata in D, Op. 94
Debussy- Ariettes Oubliees, L.60
Debussy- Cello Sonata, L.135
clouseau
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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2018, 12:22:09 AM »

divided_loyalties I have not been in this position, but I have wondered myself and have done some research on how to be more productive. There are three aspects to keep in mind:

1. Time management
You have to take everything you do in consideration, and come up with a realistic number. How many hours per day are available? Have a minimum amount of practice time and try to never practice less than that. Then, depending on the circumstances, use the extra time you have available. Also consider sacrificing some time from something else, if piano playing is your priority.

2. Concentration
Do things that improve focus. I noticed considerable difference when I swithced to a healthier diet, my energy leve increased and I could focus better. Vitamin suplements help as well. Do you work out? Sport has been proven to improve concentration as well, and might act as a good counterbalance to your intense schedule. Also make sure you are getting enough sleep.

3. Efficiency
Review your methods of practicing and make sure you are using your time in the most efficient way.
Have a look here: http://brenthugh.com/piano/piano-practice.html
I have mentioned this practice guide in other posts as well, because its main objective is to use practice time efficiently and provides actual methods of practicing. Maybe you are familiar with most of the methods, but there is useful advice as well.
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"What the devil do you mean to sing to me, priest? You are out of tune." - Rameau
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