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What practise tip has made the most difference for you? (Read 951 times)

Online lelle

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What practise tip has made the most difference for you?
« on: January 25, 2021, 04:17:40 PM »
Hello! Due to the pandemic I have not been able to practise as much or as consistently as I want, because I have chosen to stay at work late to avoid rush hour in public transports. That means that I have had to skip a lot of practise since we only have an aucoustic instrument at home and I can't practise late in the evening. I'm getting a digital instrument soon and to give me some inspiration, direction and new ideas as I get back up in the saddle I wanted to ask what practise tip has made the most difference for you? Like, if you think of the many tips and ideas you have encountered, which one has improved the most the quality, enjoyment or results you get from your practising?

Online volcanoadam

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Re: What practise tip has made the most difference for you?
«Reply #1 on: January 25, 2021, 06:00:14 PM »
Currently I'm working from home, but before the pandemic I was getting up one hour earlier to do morning practise. Yes, I feel very sleepy during morning practise, but my brain is rested and my practise is more focused. In the mornings I make less errors and progress quicker. That worked pretty well for me and could also work for you.
After work I'm usually so tired that I can't focus on the task and very easily switch off - that's not very helpful for efficient practise.
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Offline ranjit

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Re: What practise tip has made the most difference for you?
«Reply #2 on: January 25, 2021, 06:50:24 PM »
Hello! Due to the pandemic I have not been able to practise as much or as consistently as I want, because I have chosen to stay at work late to avoid rush hour in public transports. That means that I have had to skip a lot of practise since we only have an aucoustic instrument at home and I can't practise late in the evening. I'm getting a digital instrument soon and to give me some inspiration, direction and new ideas as I get back up in the saddle I wanted to ask what practise tip has made the most difference for you? Like, if you think of the many tips and ideas you have encountered, which one has improved the most the quality, enjoyment or results you get from your practising?
Since it's hard for you to find time, why don't you develop mental practice techniques? Try to imagine your hands playing a piece away from the instrument. If you can get through the whole piece that way, you can be quite sure that you have it pretty well memorized.

I'm still not very good at it, but the mental repetitions can be as effective as the physical ones. So you can cut down on actual time spent on the instrument.

Offline dogperson

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Re: What practise tip has made the most difference for you?
«Reply #3 on: January 25, 2021, 07:07:27 PM »
The practice tip that has made the most difference to me:
Do not work on the entire score.  Identify only those measures that ‘need work’ and work in those.  It might be adjoining measures, partial measures,  or just scattered measures.  When you sit down to practice, know what you will work on and the goal you have:  I.e. the rhythm in measure 3 is not even. In measure 5, I don’t make the left hand leap in time.

Work on the rough spots.  You can get an amazing amount done in 30 min if you are disciplined about identifying the problems and working on the problems. Do not start at the beginning and play through until you reach a bump.

I use transparent post-it note flags to mark the score:  I slap a flag on the problem and remove the flag when it is resolved. 


Offline brogers70

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Re: What practise tip has made the most difference for you?
«Reply #4 on: January 25, 2021, 08:38:14 PM »
The practice tip that has made the most difference to me:
Do not work on the entire score.  Identify only those measures that ‘need work’ and work in those.  It might be adjoining measures, partial measures,  or just scattered measures.  When you sit down to practice, know what you will work on and the goal you have:  I.e. the rhythm in measure 3 is not even. In measure 5, I don’t make the left hand leap in time.

Work on the rough spots.  You can get an amazing amount done in 30 min if you are disciplined about identifying the problems and working on the problems. Do not start at the beginning and play through until you reach a bump.

I use transparent post-it note flags to mark the score:  I slap a flag on the problem and remove the flag when it is resolved.

Yes, yes, yes. Identify the problems and work on them. Don't just keep running through counting on the problems fixing themselves over time. Also, find ways to keep your brain active. Don't just repeat the problematic bit over and over the same way. Try different rhythms or finger staccato or leaving out some notes in a chord and then putting them back.

As an example, I was stuck on a bit in Debussy's Sunken Cathedral where the left hand has a chord up above middle C, then has to hit a grace note deep in the bass and then back up to a dense chord in the upper register. Instead of just repeating the leaps I made a game where I'd raise the lower grace note an octave, keeping everything else the same, and then repeat the pattern, moving the low grace note down a step on each repetition until I got down to the written pitch. After messing around with that for just a few minutes, my left hand knew the right distance to jump at that point. The main thing is to focus on a small problem and to think of lots of ways of working on the one problem until it becomes easy.

Offline anacrusis

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Re: What practise tip has made the most difference for you?
«Reply #5 on: January 25, 2021, 08:48:34 PM »
It's hard to rank what tip has been the most useful for me but one thing I find very important (and sometimes need to remind myself of) is to practise at a tempo where you get everything right. If you practise mistakes, you learn mistakes, and it takes longer to get the piece down and feel solid with it.

Online j_tour

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Re: What practise tip has made the most difference for you?
«Reply #6 on: January 25, 2021, 09:16:36 PM »
Yeah, this has been mentioned by others, but it's without doubt the most important technique I've learned to employ.  I was not diligent at this when I was learning as a young kid, in any style of music.  So I got pretty good (since I was just able to power through certain pieces and solve technical problems, with the aid of a very good teacher in an ad hoc fashion), but as an adult when I no longer studied with anybody, there were difficulties in expanding my technical and analytic abilities.

One could call it an abstraction, or a hyper-fragmentation while learning different pieces:  the reasons could be to improve memory, or to solve some mechanical problems, or other things.

A piece of music must have a unified conception, of course — after all, one must have something to play, and ideally it should be at least pretty good, or at least good enough (!) — but in dissecting and learning a work, I find it better to be able to begin and end at any part of the music, and often in rather small units. 

Theoretically, dividing the work into smaller pieces, or smaller concepts is not dissimilar to George Pólya's strategic plan outlined in his famous handbook, How To Solve It.  And in music as well, it is entirely oriented as a practical method.  That is, one to be practiced.

In other words, don't play what you know, as in start from the beginning of a piece doggedly and then get tangled up.  Isolate the fragments that are confusing or difficult, whether intellectually or mechanically, and find solutions.

I would say it's a strategy based upon, in the case of music, perhaps very literally a "de-composition," since I imagine that is how some composers of through-composed music conceive of certain aspects of their art. 

So, tactics at the level of the "cell" or the individual moments, but employed with an idea of the entire plan, as one can also employ simultaneously by "playing" or, even better, "hearing," such-and-such a piece in one's mind away from the keyboard, as ranjit demonstrated in an above post with which I also agree very much.
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Online lelle

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Re: What practise tip has made the most difference for you?
«Reply #7 on: January 27, 2021, 08:57:31 PM »
Thanks for your replies. Breaking the piece up into small chunks and doing focused practise on the things that need work seem to be a reoccuring thing, not only in this thread, but in other places I have looked at too. It's funny, I experimented a while with playing the piece through slowly once a day and leaving it at that, because I read Cortot used to advocate this. It was not a method intended to give you fast results, but to preserve your love for the piece by not sullying it through tons of repetition (how many people still love the start of a Chopin Nocturne as much after repeating it 50 times?). And, I guess, through making the process of learning the piece longer it also has become more mature once it is ready. But I kind of concluded that doing this was not for me, and that I'm better off doing more focused work if I want to make quicker progress on my overall skills at the instrument.

Offline dogperson

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Re: What practise tip has made the most difference for you?
«Reply #8 on: January 27, 2021, 10:11:10 PM »
Thanks for your replies. Breaking the piece up into small chunks and doing focused practise on the things that need work seem to be a reoccuring thing, not only in this thread, but in other places I have looked at too. It's funny, I experimented a while with playing the piece through slowly once a day and leaving it at that, because I read Cortot used to advocate this. It was not a method intended to give you fast results, but to preserve your love for the piece by not sullying it through tons of repetition (how many people still love the start of a Chopin Nocturne as much after repeating it 50 times?). And, I guess, through making the process of learning the piece longer it also has become more mature once it is ready. But I kind of concluded that doing this was not for me, and that I'm better off doing more focused work if I want to make quicker progress on my overall skills at the instrument.


This alleged Cortot advice doesn’t make sense to me as he has written detailed exercises and text for how to practice the tricky sections of the score...  look at Cortot editions.of the etudes.
If you are doing focused practiced, you will never play the beginning of a Nocturne repeatedly

Offline dogperson

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Re: What practise tip has made the most difference for you?
«Reply #9 on: January 27, 2021, 10:22:11 PM »
Duplicate

Online lelle

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Re: What practise tip has made the most difference for you?
«Reply #10 on: January 28, 2021, 02:13:09 PM »


This alleged Cortot advice doesn’t make sense to me as he has written detailed exercises and text for how to practice the tricky sections of the score...  look at Cortot editions.of the etudes.
If you are doing focused practiced, you will never play the beginning of a Nocturne repeatedly

It surprised me as well. I read it in a book written by his last private pupil, who had lessons with him the last 7 years or so of his life. Apparently Cortot was very displeased whenever his book Rational Principles of Pianoforte Technique was brought up and never spoke about it. He eventually reluctantly only authorized like four lessons on the exercises in it - with another teacher!

Maybe Cortot changed his approach to practising at some point.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: What practise tip has made the most difference for you?
«Reply #11 on: January 31, 2021, 01:42:19 AM »
The most difference would be: "Sacrifice your babies", this means you need to be prepared to give up "old ways" that you are very comfortable with and try something else which challenges you. This can apply to everything from what type of music you play, fingerings that you use, time that you use to study, discipline towards study etc etc. From blood and sweat we gain the most beneficial change, stop being so comfortable.
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Online lelle

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Re: What practise tip has made the most difference for you?
«Reply #12 on: February 03, 2021, 11:03:22 PM »
The most difference would be: "Sacrifice your babies", this means you need to be prepared to give up "old ways" that you are very comfortable with and try something else which challenges you. This can apply to everything from what type of music you play, fingerings that you use, time that you use to study, discipline towards study etc etc. From blood and sweat we gain the most beneficial change, stop being so comfortable.

Thank you, I think this is good advice. I think one difficult thing to balance is what ways I enjoy practising the most vs what ways are the most effective. If I have to be too disciplined and follow the most efficient model I sometimes feel like the fun is being sucked out of playing. So in that way I feel challenged by being very disciplined and forcing myself to sit and practise more than I want to, as an example. Maybe that is not what you are referring to?

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: What practise tip has made the most difference for you?
«Reply #13 on: February 04, 2021, 02:03:12 AM »
Thank you, I think this is good advice. I think one difficult thing to balance is what ways I enjoy practising the most vs what ways are the most effective. If I have to be too disciplined and follow the most efficient model I sometimes feel like the fun is being sucked out of playing. So in that way I feel challenged by being very disciplined and forcing myself to sit and practise more than I want to, as an example. Maybe that is not what you are referring to?
Since the question was what made the most difference I chose something that of course is the most demanding on you since that pretty much always will give you the most change. Some people make a choice after a period of playing piano to perhaps stop playing just what and when they like and make a large change to their approach. Perhaps these come in series separated by more leisurely study because as you mentioned it can make things less "fun".

I like the notion of not allowing yourself to get too comfortable when studying the piano. You need to challenge yourself every day in some way, you should feel like a beginner at least for a moment! It is good to humble yourself daily like this I feel, it keeps you on your toes, it keeps your head out of the clouds. You should push yourself to practice when you don't feel like it, make that a habit and it can strengthen your discipline muscles, it might not be very fun but I feel going against what you want is a good practice odd as it sounds.
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Online lelle

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Re: What practise tip has made the most difference for you?
«Reply #14 on: February 07, 2021, 07:40:49 PM »
You should push yourself to practice when you don't feel like it, make that a habit and it can strengthen your discipline muscles, it might not be very fun but I feel going against what you want is a good practice odd as it sounds.

Its funny, I subscribe to the opposite idea in many cases :D I figure that if your approach to life is to go against what you want, you'll end up with a life where you are doing a bunch of stuff you don't wanna do. But if you focus on figuring out what you want and go do that, you'll get a life where you are doing a bunch of stuff you actually want to do. And as an added bonus, since you'll be doing the stuff you like a lot, you'll get good at it, which will make you enjoy it even more.

As an example from my own life, I forced myself to study a lot of math to get good grades in school. But I never enjoyed it. So I became rather good at math for a while but I hated it all the time. I am much happier now that I am no longer doing any math in my life. So Im not sure if there was much point to doing it in the first place.

Offline brogers70

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Re: What practise tip has made the most difference for you?
«Reply #15 on: February 07, 2021, 10:18:57 PM »
Its funny, I subscribe to the opposite idea in many cases :D I figure that if your approach to life is to go against what you want, you'll end up with a life where you are doing a bunch of stuff you don't wanna do. But if you focus on figuring out what you want and go do that, you'll get a life where you are doing a bunch of stuff you actually want to do. And as an added bonus, since you'll be doing the stuff you like a lot, you'll get good at it, which will make you enjoy it even more.

As an example from my own life, I forced myself to study a lot of math to get good grades in school. But I never enjoyed it. So I became rather good at math for a while but I hated it all the time. I am much happier now that I am no longer doing any math in my life. So Im not sure if there was much point to doing it in the first place.

I'd say that "want you want" is not a simple idea. You wanted good grades; you did what you needed to do to get them. But maybe you didn't really want good grades and would have preferred math-free time to pursue other interests. What you want in the short term may be different from what you want in the long term, and many of the things you want, may not be compatible with each other. So it may take some time to get to enjoy the things you need to do to get what you want, and there's no harm in pushing yourself to develop the habits that will get you there. If that's what you want.

In general, I agree that it's a good idea to do what you enjoy and that you'll get good at the stuff you enjoy; sometimes, not for miserable years at a time, though, you need to let your longer term wants push your shorter term wants aside, until you get into that positive feedback of being good at what you enjoy and enjoying what you are good at.