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Practicing Mini-Course: 23 Ways to Make Faster Progress on the Piano (Read 409 times)

Offline aneuhaus

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Hey everyone! My name is Aaron Neuhaus. I'm a piano instructor in Summerville, SC and have played piano for over 20 years. I teach locally here in Summerville, traveling to my students homes to give in-person lessons. Recently, I've recorded an online course where I video myself explaining everything that I teach to my students in person, except online. Here's a brief summary of what I'm covering in the mini-course (which is called Practicing Mini-Course: 23 Ways to Make Faster Progress with the Piano):

   - How to Make Faster Progress in your Practice Sessions
   - What is the Best Way to Practice
   - How to Best Split Your Practice Sessions Between Scales and Chords and Working on Songs
   - How to Find the Time, Energy, and Motivation to Practice After a Long Day of Work
   - How Slow or Fast you Should Be Practicing a Song at
   - How to Avoid the Temptation of Practicing Too Fast
   - Whether It's Normal to Take a Break from the Piano for a While

These are some of things I'll be discussing. If you want to see the full outline I put together, you can find it here: https://bit.ly/practicing-mini-course

I'm looking to guage interest in the mini-course for other potential piano lessons in the future. I really want to make sure this and future courses are great, so if you are interested and decide to purchase it, I'll probably be asking for feedback on how it could be improved. Keep in mind though that I'm not an expert with editing, so the video quality of the course probably won't be great at first, but my hope is that the content and information is out of this world. Thanks guys!

Aaron Neuhaus

Offline keypeg

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Re: Practicing Mini-Course: 23 Ways to Make Faster Progress on the Piano
«Reply #1 on: August 04, 2020, 05:50:41 PM »
I clicked on your link.  There is a 3 minute introductory video which we get to view - almost a minute of playing before getting any info.  That info is only about how long and how often to practice.  Nothing about how to practise, toward what kinds of goals.  To get an idea of what might get presented how, one has to pay USD $93 (about CAD $125) to spend on an unknown.  Yes, there is a list which does give a bit of an idera.  At present I'm unconvinced. ;)

Offline keypeg

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Re: Practicing Mini-Course: 23 Ways to Make Faster Progress on the Piano
«Reply #2 on: August 04, 2020, 05:59:21 PM »
Btw, the advice of 2 hours/day for most days but have a break - is the advice I got the first time I ever had music lessons.  A year in, it turned into a disaster because of all the other things that were missing - my ability to play a technically difficult instrument collapsed.  To start with, you have to know how to practise, toward what - what an actual practising goal looks like - what focus looks like.  How do you divide up and organize tasks and material.  After this disaster I sought, and found, a teacher who aimed at effective practising and these kinds of goals.

Among other things- Two 15 minute focused sessions can yield more than a 2 hour continuous session, where you also think you are being focused.  The idea that 2 hours will give more results than 1 hour is not necessarily true.

I also disagree that one does not learn while practising.  It is definitely true that during sleep, the learning gets consolidated.  Practising 4 days in a row, consistently, is more effective than 1 day of mega-practice, because of the way the stuff organizes itself cumulatively and refines itself during sleep and while stepping away.  But you are also learning while practising, depending on how you practise.  They are both types of learning.

Offline aneuhaus

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Re: Practicing Mini-Course: 23 Ways to Make Faster Progress on the Piano
«Reply #3 on: August 04, 2020, 07:53:00 PM »
Keypeg, thanks for checking it out, I appreciate you taking the time. Yes, unfortunately, I had to limit how much I could include in the free preview at first. I wanted to spend most of it showing that I could, in fact, play piano and have been for a while.

You're right, there isn't too much info in the first lesson, mostly about how much to practice for certain timelines, etc. I do address all of the rest of the questions in the following lessons though.

You're right that an unfocused 2 hours of practice can be a disaster. I would say this was the case with myself as well. With my in-person students, I would rather have them do two 15 minute sessions where their mind is fully involved and they have specific, clear-cut goals, than one 2-hour session, even if it doesn't "look" as impressive.

And while you do "consolidate" the memories of what you practiced during your sleep at night, you're right that you learn while practicing. If you didn't all you would need to do is sleep all day to become a Beethoven! :) I just wanted to clarify that since most people spend so much attention on practicing and so little on their sleep quality.

Aaron

Offline ranjit

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Re: Practicing Mini-Course: 23 Ways to Make Faster Progress on the Piano
«Reply #4 on: August 04, 2020, 08:31:15 PM »
Honestly, this is not much to go by. You've only mentioned how much time you need to spend at the piano to make progress. The advice in the preview video is mostly trivial, that spending more time at the piano will help you progress faster. There is no mention of what is meant by very fast/fast/slow progress. One grade/two grades/four grades a year? Making sure to spread out your practice is a good piece of advice. But even then, there is no mention of with what you want the intensity of the practice to be, or any specifics of what "practicing" entails, other than the idea that "every minute should count".

Of course, your videos might be tailored to the absolute beginner, in which case they might be useful. However, I don't see much use for them based on what I see here.

Offline aneuhaus

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Re: Practicing Mini-Course: 23 Ways to Make Faster Progress on the Piano
«Reply #5 on: August 04, 2020, 11:05:45 PM »
Hey Ranjit, thanks for checking it out. You're right, I don't go into too much detail about what very fast, fast, steady, etc. mean exactly. That is because in my experience, its hard to give an exact grade level projection for different daily practice lengths.

For instance, I have had some students who practice a half hour every day who make steady progress, but in no way exceptional. I've had others who practice the same half hour a day who absolutely fly through the song books we've worked on. It depends on the learner. Generally, those are reliable rules of thumb.

You're right, this course is for the beginner, but in the other videos, we discuss details on what practicing looks like, for instance, the value of working with metronomes, establishing a comfortable environment, logging sessions in Evernote, etc.

Offline dogperson

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Re: Practicing Mini-Course: 23 Ways to Make Faster Progress on the Piano
«Reply #6 on: August 04, 2020, 11:28:02 PM »
Do you really recommend that a true beginner practice two hours per day?  This is much greater than recommended by other teachers that teach beginners, and if the practice is focused, seems excessive.

FWIW If you would like to encourage subscribers, you should really beef up  your introductory free lesson. Not many will pay $99 without  some exact instructions in the free material.

Offline aneuhaus

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Re: Practicing Mini-Course: 23 Ways to Make Faster Progress on the Piano
«Reply #7 on: August 05, 2020, 10:28:35 PM »
Hey Dogperson, that's a good point. It depends on what you're looking for. If you practice two hours a day, you will make very fast progress on the piano. I can't necessarily recommend a particular time per day because everyone's situation is different. For instance, for the first 10ish years I spent learning the piano, I only practiced a half hour a day. The reason I progressed so far was because I was extremely consistent with that half hour. But obviously, if you want to make faster progress and can remain consistent, an hour to even three hours a day will give you those results.

Offline dogperson

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Re: Practicing Mini-Course: 23 Ways to Make Faster Progress on the Piano
«Reply #8 on: August 05, 2020, 10:55:45 PM »
Hey Dogperson, that's a good point. It depends on what you're looking for. If you practice two hours a day, you will make very fast progress on the piano. I can't necessarily recommend a particular time per day because everyone's situation is different. For instance, for the first 10ish years I spent learning the piano, I only practiced a half hour a day. The reason I progressed so far was because I was extremely consistent with that half hour. But obviously, if you want to make faster progress and can remain consistent, an hour to even three hours a day will give you those results.


We will have to disagree. I do not believe a beginner who is learning the basic rudiments of notes, rhythm, hand position, and very simple music is doing themselves or their learning any favors by playing for two hours every day.  They will not have enough new material to devote that amount of time, so the only thing they can do is play the same one paged score over and over and over.  As a beginner, it is important to slowly learn concepts and build on those as learning and time progress. It can’t be crammed in to ‘progress faster’.

As skills and time progress, practice time can increase


Offline ted

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Re: Practicing Mini-Course: 23 Ways to Make Faster Progress on the Piano
«Reply #9 on: August 06, 2020, 01:54:49 AM »
The trouble with me is that "progress", for want of a better term, was always far from proportional to time spent grinding away at "practice", also for want of better term. In some ways it would be easier if it were but it simply isn't. The assertion that it is seems tantamount to saying that if one man can mow a lawn in half an hour, therefore a million men can mow it in a fraction of a second. Discipline is important but enjoyment and love of music in a beginner is surely much more vital. I am probably an odd case at best and too old to remember what it felt like as a beginner, but I do vividly recall the love of music that my childhood teacher fostered in me; I do not recall much in the way of hours of practice, and thank goodness for that.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline aneuhaus

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Re: Practicing Mini-Course: 23 Ways to Make Faster Progress on the Piano
«Reply #10 on: August 06, 2020, 01:43:02 PM »
Dogperson, I don't think there is disagreement. You're right, for the majority of beginner students, 2 hrs. a day is too much. It might be alright for the first few months, but more than likely, it will become unsustainable. I would rather have a beginner practice 30 min. consistently than 2 hrs. inconsistently.

Ted, you're right. If you don't have a desire or a passion about learning the piano, you won't get far. And you definitely won't be motivated to practice for any length of time.


Offline keypeg

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Re: Practicing Mini-Course: 23 Ways to Make Faster Progress on the Piano
«Reply #11 on: August 06, 2020, 03:39:25 PM »
Keypeg, thanks for checking it out, I appreciate you taking the time....
You're right, there isn't too much info in the first lesson, mostly about how much to practice for certain timelines, etc. I do address all of the rest of the questions in the following lessons though.
I responded to the first part in PM form.  For the rest above - The problem as I see it is that an introduction should give an overview of what to expect, what the course is about.  Instead, you've given a detail, and that detail gives the wrong impression.  If I thought the course was about time management, centered on amount of time, I would not sign up.  So - wrong impresssion.

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You're right that an unfocused 2 hours of practice can be a disaster. I would say this was the case with myself as well. With my in-person students, I would rather have them do two 15 minute sessions where their mind is fully involved and they have specific, clear-cut goals, than one 2-hour session, even if it doesn't "look" as impressive. 
This response inspire more confidence.

I will say per that experience, that I thought I was doing focused practice, because I didn't know anything.  I had played music my whole life on any instrument I could get my hands on.  So when starting violin in middle age, when I was given my RCM pieces at the grade levels, I worked to make it sound right - and it did, sort of.  You can force a sound out of an instrument somehow.  You can play a thing over and over.  You don't develop technique that way; you don't get the foundations - and it blows up on you at some point.

I literally practised 2 hours/day - so that was a sore point - and I may have ended up with the beginnings of dystonia when luckily I stopped.  It was such a bad experience that I would not wish it on anyone!  :(

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And while you do "consolidate" the memories of what you practiced during your sleep at night, you're right that you learn while practicing. If you didn't all you would need to do is sleep all day to become a Beethoven! :) I just wanted to clarify that since most people spend so much attention on practicing and so little on their sleep quality.

Sleep quality is indeed important.

I'd even say, "letting go" in between, and just "trusting" - because you can actually interfere with the autonomous workings of your "system" (body, mind, senses) by over-controlling - if that makes sense.  (I may get into hot water over that one).

Offline aneuhaus

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Re: Practicing Mini-Course: 23 Ways to Make Faster Progress on the Piano
«Reply #12 on: August 06, 2020, 08:52:40 PM »
Keypeg, I glad you mentioned "Letting go", "Trusting" and letting your autonomous system work. I've found that to be the case with myself, though I've never described it like that. Sleep helps you consolidate your memories, but there is a technique in "letting go" where you allow your brain's myelinated neurons take over. Its a state where you don't have to consciously think about playing; your fingers kind of take over for you as you perform.

Concerning being forced to practice 2 hours a day: I'm sorry! That sounds pretty rough. Being "forced" to practice a half hour a day is rough if your heart isn't into it.