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How to secure pieces (Read 3533 times)

Offline ahoffmann

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How to secure pieces
« on: May 21, 2019, 05:40:35 AM »
Warning: most of these tips are more suited for advanced players.
I'd appreciate any thoughts you share.


Offline tenk

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Re: How to secure pieces
«Reply #1 on: June 08, 2019, 01:10:01 AM »
I enjoyed this, thanks for posting. Subbed  :)

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: How to secure pieces
«Reply #2 on: June 08, 2019, 03:28:08 AM »
Warning: most of these tips are more suited for advanced players.
I'd appreciate any thoughts you share.
These ideas are rather elementary ones to consider them suited more for advanced players. There are deeper practice methods for learning your pieces pertaining to how you deal with the score, strategies to avoid brute force repetition and promote mindful practice, this sort of practice methodology is relevant to all levels of piano practice. You really need to take a specific piece under consideration to make the ideas make more sense because you can only go so far talking in generalisations but of course to make a short video that keeps peoples attention there is little choice.
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Offline pover

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Re: How to secure pieces
«Reply #3 on: June 08, 2019, 12:32:23 PM »
I did enjoy the video and some of the tips were particularly useful, and I always say I would use them but sometimes I'm lazy. Things like hitting the exact center of the key comes to mind but it takes A LOT of discipline to stick to it.

LiiW, can you share any tips you have on preventing mindless practice? If a passage needs work and it just needs go get into your muscle memory, do you use a variety of methods to work on it to ensure that you're not just doing brute-force repetition?

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: How to secure pieces
«Reply #4 on: June 09, 2019, 03:05:23 AM »
LiiW, can you share any tips you have on preventing mindless practice?
It is a large issue which should be considered as "practice method", "how" to practice mindfully. This can be quickly appreciated but takes many years to apply, develop and actually is continuously improved upon ad infinitum. It is very long to exactly explain all of these so I will just mention a few in a general sense so this will by no means be a complete overview of what can be done. Of course the exact use of these require actual pieces to appropriately understand as well as at a level which you understand.

Knowledge of the building blocks of music including; scales, chords and arpeggios and how to observe their pattern, shape,form and sound. How observing pattern with regards to these building blocks allows us to learn more of the piece simultaneously. You must build upon what you logically observe which prompts you to think about more with less thought. See, hear and use pattern observation in music to improve sight reading, memory and performance of a score. How to mark/highlight/color and section sheet music to highlight observations, for instance shape of chords and scales can be drawn above the groups (eg: CEbG might be a triangle type shape)

Simplification of the score then gradually adding to it, this allows one to play a passage without relying on slow tempo to remain controlled or the need to play separate hands (which is inefficient if both hands can be immediately done) and almost always is a faster way to learn your piece rather than struggling with all the notes. Practice routines need successful repetitions with very little error, if you are practicing with errors then perhaps simplification and gradual adding will help a great deal. Exactly which notes to remove and then how to add them back requires careful consideration.

Controlled pausing to avoid any isolated finger movements which have nothing to do with normal playing. Allows one to think before they play, also allows to practice quick positional movements in a controlled manner. This again promotes comfortable reptitions which are controlled, it is no good practicing with uncontrolled movements.

Observing patterns in the fingering and how they change giving a logical statement as to the thought process behind them. These can then be less focused on and ultimately forgotten about later on but if a passage becomes difficult you can bring them back up to conscious observation. A simple example for instance, consider a chord progression in Left hand CEG - CFA, one could say something like, "Thumb goes up, change 3 to 2" to define the movement rather than just playing it without any logical observation as to what happens.
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Offline pover

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Re: How to secure pieces
«Reply #5 on: June 11, 2019, 11:21:22 AM »
Thank you so much for all the advice, I'll make sure to make use of it when I practice!! :) 

Offline dedolence

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Re: How to secure pieces
«Reply #6 on: August 26, 2019, 02:01:15 AM »
How to mark/highlight/color and section sheet music to highlight observations, for instance shape of chords and scales can be drawn above the groups (eg: CEbG might be a triangle type shape)

so i'm actually really interested in how other people mark up their scores like this. i just bought a set of highlighters, mainly with the goal of highlighting the dynamics and slurring/phrasing, but i'd love to get tips from others who do this. better, i'd love to see some examples if anyone has any scans. i want to apply a system that works before i mark up all my scores and discover it just confuses things more than elucidates them!

Online j_tour

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Re: How to secure pieces
«Reply #7 on: September 27, 2019, 12:28:46 PM »
so i'm actually really interested in how other people mark up their scores like this. i just bought a set of highlighters, mainly with the goal of highlighting the dynamics and slurring/phrasing, but i'd love to get tips from others who do this. better, i'd love to see some examples if anyone has any scans. i want to apply a system that works before i mark up all my scores and discover it just confuses things more than elucidates them!

That's a perfectly good question.

I know this is a somewhat older thread, but I've been doing a bunch with just really "securing" some basic pieces in memory.  Primarily Bach and Debussy give me the most trouble — Beethoven and Mozart seem to unfold on their own pretty easily with my own memory.

Yes, I mark up scores all the time. 

And, yes, I use every trick in the book to approach pieces. 

I admit I'm not much a fan of using highlighters or colored pencils, but that's because a few years ago when I started to get more breadth in the Bach I could play, I used notation software to write out simplified scores.

But, I use a lot of pencils, and lots of erasers.  FWIW, I like a 2B 2mm clutch pencil, with a Mars-Staedtler stick eraser (it comes in a pencil-shaped device, with a ratchet to advance the eraser, like a tube of toothpaste).

I write out pop-jazz mnemonics for some chords (Ab7#11/Gb), aggressively draw circles around places where I want the hands to be divided or shared among voices, write out hash marks for rhythm or subdividing rhythms.

Pretty much if it exists and if I notice it, I'll pencil it in.

Not so much using words on the page, like a teacher might with a pupil, you know like "lay back," or "gently" and that kind of thing. 

For the rest, I find that it's a good "sanity check" to go back to pieces I can play from memory at a proper tempo and say to myself, "You know, if you know this so good, let's do it extremely slowly a few times and see if it's really known."
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Offline perfect_pitch

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Re: How to secure pieces
«Reply #8 on: September 27, 2019, 01:18:55 PM »
Some of these are good, and while I do most of these as normal - I find that technically Tip #6 may be misleading (the transposition). Problem you have with transposition is that you have to alter your fingering so that while you train your brain to use a particular fingering with the piece in C Major, you will need to alter that fingering greatly if you move into another key. I find consistency is also necessary for really fundamentally developing your muscle memory - while having alternate fingerings in alternate keys may lead to problems.

Online j_tour

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Re: How to secure pieces
«Reply #9 on: September 27, 2019, 10:21:08 PM »
Some of these are good, and while I do most of these as normal - I find that technically Tip #6 may be misleading (the transposition). Problem you have with transposition is that you have to alter your fingering so that while you train your brain to use a particular fingering with the piece in C Major, you will need to alter that fingering greatly if you move into another key. I find consistency is also necessary for really fundamentally developing your muscle memory - while having alternate fingerings in alternate keys may lead to problems.

That's a good point.

As a musician, being able to ear-transpose memorized pieces is great, but I also have doubts if it's desirable as a mere pianist.

Musicianship is sort of a life-long thing, but for the pianist, I think the emphasis should be on practical results.

Although sight-singing voices, as in a Bach piece, I find is not harmful and possibly helpful to remember pieces.

Doesn't necessarily have to be sung out loud, but if you can hear the lines in your inner ear, that's for me an important key, so to speak.
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 perfect_pitch

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Re: How to secure pieces
«Reply #10 on: September 27, 2019, 11:16:57 PM »
As a musician, being able to ear-transpose memorized pieces is great, but I also have doubts if it's desirable as a mere pianist.

Erm... I didn't quite say that. I do enjoy transposing pieces, and as an accompanist as well it does come in very handy especially when accompanying voices who find a melody too high or low.

However, for the sake of a professional concert where you are the soloist - I believe that transposing a piece can do more harm than good.

Online j_tour

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Re: How to secure pieces
«Reply #11 on: September 28, 2019, 01:44:12 AM »
Erm... I didn't quite say that. I do enjoy transposing pieces, and as an accompanist as well it does come in very handy especially when accompanying voices who find a melody too high or low.

However, for the sake of a professional concert where you are the soloist - I believe that transposing a piece can do more harm than good.

I think we agree completely:  a good musician should be able to at least look at a score, especially a simpler one, and be able to transpose. 

Within reason:  I might be able to sight-transpose Schönberg's Op. 25, but it would take about two days of constant playing at a glacial tempo.  I'd probably die from some kind of stroke or something in the process.

But to "secure" a piece, really, to me what that means is to know the piece as one desires to perform it, inside, outside, upside down, sideways, drunk, sober, slow, fast, with different articulations, and all that.

Transposing is for different aims.

It might be of help in learning to sing or hear the lines in polyphonic music, but it's not something I've prioritized.  Not that I don't sort of suck on dog at piano, but that's just how I think of it.
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.