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How many piecces do you practise at the same time? (Read 1772 times)

Offline kittenyarn

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How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
« on: February 17, 2021, 03:21:22 PM »
Hii!

How many pieces do you usually practise at the same time? I'm unsure if I should work on just one piece at a time or many? How many pieces maximum should I be working on at the same time?

Thanks :)

Online brogers70

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #1 on: February 17, 2021, 04:24:55 PM »
I don't think there's a straightforward answer to what you should be doing, but for what it's worth I'm working on three pieces (Mozart Sonata in Eb K282, Beethoven Sonata Opus 2 #1, and Brahms arrangement of Bach's violin Chaconne in d minor for left hand , plus a Chopin etude, and there are 4-5 other pieces that I've already memorized and which I play once in a while to polish them and avoid forgetting them. That fits into a 4 hour daily practice and leaves room for 40 minutes of technical exercises and 20 minutes of sight reading.

Offline ranjit

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #2 on: February 17, 2021, 05:28:45 PM »
I find 3-4 new pieces to be optimal. You should certainly work on more than one piece at a time imo. I've felt that working on 6-7 pieces at a time to be ineffective for me, and 1-2 is too little.

Offline dogperson

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #3 on: February 17, 2021, 08:40:02 PM »
Depends on: your level of playing, the length and difficulty or the music, how long do you practice!every day

Offline getsiegs

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #4 on: February 17, 2021, 10:13:26 PM »
I would agree that 3-4 pieces is usually best. It always depends on what you're practicing for, though. At the end of last year I went from practicing 5 pieces at the same time (college audition repertoire) to practicing only one (I started La Valse just for myself, and it was the only new piece I practiced for about a month straight). Now that auditions have been over for awhile, I'm going back to the 3-4 range (Schumann-Liszt Widmung, Scriabin Sonata 2, Rach Op 39 No 8, Ravel La Valse) since I feel like that's best for playing a variety of pieces without starting so many that you can't finish.

 

Online anacrusis

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #5 on: February 18, 2021, 08:55:08 PM »
It's difficult to give a definite number, but I find that there are diminishing returns to practising both too few and too many pieces. If I practise so many pieces I only have time to go through each of them once or twice, learning them seems to take much longer tha if I can work them over in various ways in detail. Sometimes, I can memorize something in a day or two if I can really work on it, whereas otherwise it might take over a week or more.

Practising just the same piece, on the other hand, gives diminishing returns because at a certain point more practise just doesn't improve the piece more, and then it is time to leave it for the day.

Online lelle

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #6 on: February 19, 2021, 04:55:15 PM »
For a while when I worked on The Welltempered Clavier Book 1, I tried to work on all of them (24 preludes and 24 fugues) every day. It was a bit much and I don't think it was very effective for learning them  :P On a given day I seem to do the best when I work on 2-6 pieces maybe, depending on length and quantity of work needed. If some pieces are in maintenance mode I may play through some more pieces slowly.

Offline kittenyarn

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #7 on: February 22, 2021, 04:43:43 PM »
Thank you so much for your answers!! And wow that's a lot of pieces  :o I think I will try maybe 3-4 pieces then, personally  ;D

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #8 on: February 22, 2021, 05:02:53 PM »
My brain cannot handle more than 3
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Offline j_tour

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #9 on: February 22, 2021, 09:29:14 PM »
Way too many pieces at one time.

But that should be taken with a grain of salt, since classical music is a means to an end to me:  I'm isolating techniques that I find useful in other contexts, as well as improving general musicianship and knowledge of interesting repertoire.  That's what's important to me, rather than polishing a piece, which only has a small marginal appeal to me.

Yes, I do eventually try bring things to some kind of final form, but it's not always important to me to memorize works (although that's another technical goal I find useful).  It's more important that I solve technical problems as they arise.  As best I can.  Yeah, it gets easier, problem solving.

But mostly I just enjoy sight-reading different works:  sort of like a junkie, the dopamine high of discovering new and appealing works is quite a rush, even if I read something once or twice.  It all evens out:  the one's that stick in my memory as titles, I'll come back to them in an ad hoc fashion.  Read:  whenever I feel like it!  So, I'm mostly content if I can hack my way through a given piece with the score, in a way that could probably be mistaken for music, I hope:  like the old adage claims, "perfect is the enemy of good!"  In my case, anyway.
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 jimf12

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #10 on: March 01, 2021, 04:53:45 PM »
I think it completely depends - where you are in your development, goals etc..    I'm in my 50's, an amateur who has had a couple of long breaks from the piano in my adult life, and seek nothing more than to play the pieces I enjoy well for myself.   With that said, I do take my playing and practice seriously.    Given my new work at home routine, I have more time than I have ever had in my life to devote to it, and devote to it I have.

Here is what works for me.   I keep a spreadsheet that I update weekly (just started doing this actually).   I have four categories - Learning, Developing, Cleaning, and Maintenance.   I will have 1-5 or so pieces in each bucket at any given point in time.   However, rather than identify an entire piece I am working on, I identify a section where appropriate.   For example, when I am learning such and such, I'm never learning the entire thing.   At that point, I'm isolating a particular section, possibly as short as a couple of 4 or 8 measures.   So I put in my spreadsheet "Such and Such, measures 12-20".    Once a piece gets to cleaning or maintenance, it generally is the entire piece but not always.   

For cleaning and maintenance pieces I don't necessarily play those every day, but I'll make sure and hit them 3x in a week.    Learning and Developing items need to be worked on daily.   I spend 15-20 minutes per item.

I don't have more than two items in my Learning at any one time - that is the stage where I am figuring out fingering, getting my fingers to do what they are supposed to, getting up to speed etc..     I have found that working on a section until it's pretty close to perfect (perfect is perfect, but I can't always help myself and move on a tad early sometimes) is the way to go.   

So I may have, and generally do have, parts of one piece in various buckets.   I consider that two separate items of practice.   

But if I someone were to insist I give them a number of pieces I work on at the same time, my answer would be eleventy.




Offline roncesvalles

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #11 on: March 02, 2021, 04:19:48 PM »
I generally am actively learning about 2 pieces at a time that I'll memorize in the short term, but then I like to have a longer term project piece that is more challenging for me to practice a little (either practicing a part that is difficult for me or learning a few measures), and I devote a little time to either reading through one of the next pieces on my list or focusing on a technical challenge in one or more of the pieces on my list.   So most of my focus goes onto the two primary pieces, a little specific focus into a piece that will be more of a project, and a little familiarization time with pieces that I'll soon attempt to learn. 

Right now I'm wrapping up learning on Scriabin Op. 11 no. 9 and Busoni's Op. 37 no 8, and I've just started learning Godowsky-Chopin Tristesse Etude for the left hand, which I'm learning and practicing a few bars at a time on the side (something I probably won't memorize for months but which gives a change of pace and a challenge).  My main piano goal this year is to learn a good chunk of Scriabin's Op. 11, so when I have time I read ahead and practice some of the more challenging parts of the set.  So my main principle is to learn two pieces at a time that require a different kind of pianism, to work a little on something difficult that focuses on something technical I want to work on (in the Godowsky I'm working on touch/layering and graceful arpeggiation), as well as keeping practice varied with pieces I'll soon work on in earnest. 

Offline kc_gracie

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #12 on: June 30, 2021, 07:36:51 PM »
Well, I will just kind of echo what has been said already. First off, I think it depends on how much a day/week you practice. The more time you have per day, the easier it is to handle multiple pieces. So for me, where I practice typically 1-2 hours every day (average, some days I can do 3, some days I skip), I usually work on 3 pieces total. Some days I work on all 3 pieces for set periods of time and other days I focus on a particular piece. I find advantages to both kind of practice (split and single), so I try to alternate this pretty regularly. Furthermore, I kind of like this number (3). I focus usually on one piece being a larger work that is also more difficult and could take me anywhere from 1-6 months to learn. The other two pieces are more variable, but usually much easier than my primary goal piece (sometimes an etude, which can be difficult, but likely short, and maybe an easier piece that I simply enjoy). I change this from time to time if I really want to learn a piece quickly or memorize it (or if I am really driven to learn a certain piece for whatever reason). In these special cases, I usually just work on the one piece (which is usually more difficult for me).

Hopefully that helps. If you have time, I think 3 is a good number, with a goal piece and two easier, but still different, pieces to help in your playing and enjoyment. Also, those 2 easier pieces will give you more repertoire to play where, if you only work on large difficult works, you will learn, overall, fewer pieces in a given period of time. Nice to have some feeling of accomplishment every now and again.

-KC

Offline determined2learn

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #13 on: July 01, 2021, 01:52:49 PM »
I'm two years into learning piano. When I started I didn't read music. After doing online lessons for 2 years I've diverted to working on Level 1 exam and etude material. The number of pieces I have going varies. As I get semi comfortable (can play slowly at maybe 70% overall) I add a new piece. Recently, however, I have 2 pieces that have proven quite challenging. I've continued working on them both and are both (happily) to a point I just added another new piece. The 2 pieces were a mental drain and after playing them, repeatedly working on catch areas, my brain was pretty fried and I wasn't interested in playing a previously learned piece. A few days ago I needed a"pick me up" and played a recently learned etude that I enjoy thoroughly.


Continuously learning new pieces is a commitment and requires a lot of patience, but I'm hoping the pay off in the long run will be worth it.


Good luck to you!

Offline j_tour

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #14 on: July 01, 2021, 05:29:26 PM »
Continuously learning new pieces is a commitment and requires a lot of patience, but I'm hoping the pay off in the long run will be worth it.

That's a very magnanimous sentiment, and I agree.

For the OP's question?  Maybe it's my temperament or capability, but I'm "learning" dozens of pieces at any given time.  Pieces that I've culled from many times more just reading through at the keyboard.

And a certain amount of maintenance for sets that were previously "acquired."  No, I don't go back to playing the Pathétique or Op. 27/2, but things that still remain of interest.

However, I can certainly be called a hack or a punter, but continually adding new pieces, from repeated reading at the keyboard, is not a bad thing at all, IMHO.  I'm still stuck on the last fifty or so bars of any number of Bach fugues, at tempo.  The Chrom.Fant.Fug.d.min. for example.  Which, to me, is kind of difficult to read at tempo (the toccata/fantasy portions, at least:  kind of odd scalar figures to figure out in real time off the page....the fugue is somewhat straightforward, but also extremely odd in ways I don't feel like grabbing the score and detailing).

But at that point, a point of stagnation, I'd rather sit down and analyze away from the keyboard, to what extent I'm able. 

Yeah, maybe two dozen pieces I'd say I'm "learning," plus half that number I'm learning and can play with the score, and plus half that again are maintenance of sets already learned.

And 200% finding new (to me) music and reading it at the keyboard.  Including violin concerti (FWIW, I cannot stand the violin), string quartets, whatever.  If it exists, and if it's interesting, I'll play it. 

But, no, I don't get paid to perform classical piano, so while I've adopted a somewhat professional attitude to the discipline, and adhere to my schedule and lists somewhat rigorously, it's more for my own benefit.  There is some cross-over to paying jobs, but, honestly, these days, finding a good music performance job is not what it used to be:  free beer and the attention of many <insert desired sex> gets pretty old after a while, at least compared to getting compensated in cash.

Becoming a better musician, though, never gets old.

/* EDIT I guess the OP is some kind of student or something trying to pass an exam.  Well, in that case, you have to focus.  But unless you're a teacher/adjunct professor/professor, or one of the very few well paid performers, it doesn't matter, really.  Pay for performance is bollocks, I'd say.  Any money as a professional is near the console, or sent in as a hard drive stem to the mixer.  Live music is dead.

Yes, I'll say it:  live performance of classical music is done.  It's as done as billiards, snooker, or pool are as a sport.  Even opera, despite many recent magnificent attempts. 

So, why?  Well, I play pool, recreationally, sometimes pretty good.  Same with the piano and the Hammond organ.  Occasionally I get a few bucks swung my way. 

Teaching is the only reason to "master" a piece or a set of pieces.  Go where the money is.

I think classical music is now what jazz music used to be in fern bars and private parties.  Not good.   */
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 determined2learn

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #15 on: July 01, 2021, 11:47:16 PM »
.

Offline ranjit

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #16 on: July 02, 2021, 01:56:14 AM »
I think my upper limit is five. I can try out, sightread, or play sections of other pieces, play by ear or analyze, in addition to that. However, I don't find it productive to actually work on too many pieces at a time. I would much rather spend a lot of time on 1-2 pieces and try to progress quickly. It's far more satisfying for me to play a piece after a week, rather than have a dozen pieces at different stages of completion after two months.

Online lelle

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #17 on: July 03, 2021, 11:38:18 PM »
I think my upper limit is five. I can try out, sightread, or play sections of other pieces, play by ear or analyze, in addition to that. However, I don't find it productive to actually work on too many pieces at a time. I would much rather spend a lot of time on 1-2 pieces and try to progress quickly. It's far more satisfying for me to play a piece after a week, rather than have a dozen pieces at different stages of completion after two months.

Been there where I have worked on way too many pieces at the same time. It's just not that efficient. It would seem like you learn more pieces faster if you concentrate on a few at a time. Maybe that's obvious but I needed to verify it for myself by experimenting with both approaches!  ;D

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #18 on: July 04, 2021, 12:24:02 AM »
If you do a lot of sight reading it's like hundreds of pieces at once. If you are talking about memorising works without the sheet music well then that's not really the only way to practice pieces nor is it necessary or even the best approach.
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Offline j_tour

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #19 on: July 04, 2021, 04:16:15 AM »
Been there where I have worked on way too many pieces at the same time. It's just not that efficient. It would seem like you learn more pieces faster if you concentrate on a few at a time.

No, it isn't.  But it depends on one's goals and definitions.  Dozens of pieces one becomes more and more familiar with on any given day is a reasonable goal.

And that's not including just reading through many more pieces just for sake of exploration.

For me, it's a dialectic between becoming bored, and full mastery, if not memorization.

If you do a lot of sight reading it's like hundreds of pieces at once. If you are talking about memorising works without the sheet music well then that's not really the only way to practice pieces nor is it necessary or even the best approach.

Correct.  There are different methods used, at least by me, for memorization and the few dozen pieces I read often.  And, for me, "free reading" at the keyboard is something else entirely.

That's a topic for a different thread, but this is a huge topic, with many variant solutions and degrees of finitude.
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 lostinidlewonder

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #20 on: July 04, 2021, 05:14:54 AM »
Correct.  There are different methods used, at least by me, for memorization and the few dozen pieces I read often.  And, for me, "free reading" at the keyboard is something else entirely.

That's a topic for a different thread, but this is a huge topic, with many variant solutions and degrees of finitude.
When I first realized that pieces were becoming memorized through sight reading attempts (and my definition of sight reading means using the score/memory to play something, not reading something for the very first time) it was quite a revelation. I was merely practicing hundreds of pieces each month and found that they were all becoming easier and easier and a number of them I could play by glancing at bars and not requiring to read much at all. There are of course pieces which require more focused memorization because they are very difficult (and would require you are a God of sight reading to play it at tempo) but why would anyone want to exclusively work with pieces like this? It seems to be a trend though these days, play pieces which are as difficult as you can manage, it is no wonder people are trapped into thinking all pieces should take months to complete and never realize there are pieces you can play with zero practice and one can expand what is included in that catergory as they improve.

This might be a little strange to read next since I don't have the technical language to describe whats going on in the head but anyway. The brain is amazing, the amount of storage it can hold I think is near limitless but unfortunately (in an education/academic sense) we tend to avoid things which cause mental discomfort or loss of information. It is not fun if you study something for hours only to forget it, people find it difficult to measure what they have actually accomplished if information is lost. Sight reading training however requires that you do indeed forget what you have done and not hold onto it this is so your mind can be free and not clogged up with excessive information, to forget has great benefit, but then it is just amazing to notice that your brain can connect in a manner that it actually saves information that you think is lost, it is just something you are not quite conscious about but clears the way for an efficient synergy of old skills thus creating a stronger approach. My serious sight reading students trust this action and go ahead and read hundreds of pieces a month quite easily (of course our specific methods and repertoire chosen is a very detailed process). Often they realize they have severely underestimated the power of their brain and the amount of pieces they can simultaneously study.
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Offline j_tour

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #21 on: July 04, 2021, 05:40:00 AM »
Yeah, I think we're on the same page.

No, contraptuntal music, especially at tempo fresh from the page.  Yes, I hack through off the page but it needs some "tricks" to play at tempo on cold reading.  Accompaniment as well, in real time, although that can often be easier."

I will say one of the tricks is instantly reading the theory and structure from the page:  just over years of practice, and not getting to hung up on inversions and figured bass.

That's a point of no small contention, but it helps me be more efficient, namely to abstract away the structure of a piece.  Some pieces are more susceptible to this kind of ad hoc analysis, but it sometimes is helpful.
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 lostinidlewonder

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #22 on: July 07, 2021, 12:55:09 AM »
Yeah, I think we're on the same page.

No, contraptuntal music, especially at tempo fresh from the page.  Yes, I hack through off the page but it needs some "tricks" to play at tempo on cold reading.  Accompaniment as well, in real time, although that can often be easier."

I will say one of the tricks is instantly reading the theory and structure from the page:  just over years of practice, and not getting to hung up on inversions and figured bass.

That's a point of no small contention, but it helps me be more efficient, namely to abstract away the structure of a piece.  Some pieces are more susceptible to this kind of ad hoc analysis, but it sometimes is helpful.
Yes you might not get it immediately when reading although the first time there will be parts you can do perfectly immediately. There are of course pieces you can completely control on first read too thus zero practice is really needed. There are even more works you can get solved with a small handful of reading attempts and then even more with further more with the addition of focused memory activites on parts which are difficult.

I think it is a healthy routine to have a small handful of tough pieces you want to take time to improve, but along side that we should have a large amount of pieces we merely read through. I think we need to exercise our brain to read a lot of information daily, keep the brain challenged to constantly process information. Of course for those in the early stages of reading development this is an overwhelming experience which is exhausting, but as your experience base increases what you read becomes more and more routine and nothing really stumps you anymore. I think everyone can embark on serious reading study if they source a large pool of works which they can easily manage, that is a loaded challenge however, sourcing those works is a large challenge for most especially if they cannot measure what would be appropriate for themselves. It then is helpful to hire a teacher to work with you to determine what works you could efficiently practice sight reading with.
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Offline j_tour

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #23 on: July 07, 2021, 01:27:35 AM »
I think everyone can embark on serious reading study if they source a large pool of works which they can easily manage, that is a loaded challenge however, sourcing those works is a large challenge for most especially if they cannot measure what would be appropriate for themselves.

Excellent point.  That's one of the reasons I'm not a great teacher in any discipline (more a very good tutor, if anything):  it's easy to take it for granted that a student will just dive in, hit the library, check out a hundred volumes of scores, balance them carefully in his or her arms, and just do it in an afternoon and come back loaded with questions.

Not so much.  It should be, but, it's just not.



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 lostinidlewonder

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #24 on: July 07, 2021, 01:33:56 AM »
Even if you supply students with what they could easily manage it is even more difficult to get them to work through it diligently. It is quite exhausting to train your sight reading at any level but in the earlier stages it is not as enjoyable as mastering repertoire. I think people should only really train their reading skills once they have learned a good amount of pieces. You need to learn to speak a little before you read.
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Offline ranjit

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #25 on: July 07, 2021, 02:26:36 AM »
Excellent point.  That's one of the reasons I'm not a great teacher in any discipline (more a very good tutor, if anything):  it's easy to take it for granted that a student will just dive in, hit the library, check out a hundred volumes of scores, balance them carefully in his or her arms, and just do it in an afternoon and come back loaded with questions.

Not so much.  It should be, but, it's just not.
Haha you've described my teaching style precisely. I've grown to tame it over the years. I once told my brother to read a chapter of a math textbook, attempt to solve a hard problem and come up with as many approaches as he could, and come back with questions. I got to know much later that he was intimidated.  ;D

Offline ranjit

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Re: How many piecces do you practise at the same time?
«Reply #26 on: July 07, 2021, 02:34:00 AM »
You need to learn to speak a little before you read.
I started learning to sight read much later than I should. (Really, I couldn't sight read a grade 1 piece back when I played Fantaisie Impromptu!) However, one of the perks is that I can take the proprioception and theory for granted, which makes the process so much smoother. Also, I rarely have to check out fingering because I quickly come up with effective fingering solutions in many instances. I also don't have the nagging sensation that so many early sight readers have, wondering if they will ever get good at playing, because they conflate their sight reading level with their actual level at the piano.

Of course, mine is a bit of an extreme case, but I think it would be great to get pretty fluent with many of the common keyboard configurations to the point where you can play them blind, before you learn to sight read. And know some theory and have a dozen small pieces under your belt. That's how I'd approach it.