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Topic: Avoiding pieces at my level  (Read 1413 times)

Offline 1piano4joe

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Avoiding pieces at my level
on: April 10, 2021, 01:20:05 AM
Hi all,

I've been avoiding pieces at my level for some time now. I find them too demanding, challenging, laborious, exhausting, boring, grueling, rigorous, taxing, annoying, aggravating...

Something like that (I think). These are around RCM level 7 or 8 pieces/etudes which are around grade 5 in other syllabi like ABRSM, etc. So, they aren't way, way up in the upper echelons in terms of study/repertoire.

I'm reasonably certain they're not over my head as I have been gradually working my way upwards and onwards over many, many years.

I don't know. They're dense, they're fast, they're busy. It seems like more of a chore.

There really is so much more, "easier" repertoire available, that I've gotten accustomed to learning. I find it very enjoyable to play/learn these pieces in a relatively much shorter time and with much, much less effort.

Does anybody else feel like this? Or understand what I'm trying to say?

OTOH, I'm almost ready to play pieces I've been only dreaming about like those Chopin waltzes or nocturnes. Reverie, Clair de Lune, that Arabesque piece and numerous Mendelssohn pieces. These are around RCM grade 9 and 10. So these would be, IMO, too big of a stretch yet. Mainly, I'm concerned that I would get sick of them and grow to hate them after spending way too much time on them. That could be very real for me.

Anybody else here, ever get sick of a piece that they use to love because they spent so much time practicing/working on it?

I've tried these over a decade ago. I put them aside. Now that I can appreciate what's involved to play them, I'm not all that sure I want to bother!

Maybe I just need to be more selective and stick to the ones I always wanted to play, Joe.

 

Offline ranjit

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Re: Avoiding pieces at my level
Reply #1 on: April 10, 2021, 05:21:21 AM
I try to make sure that I practice in a way that a piece of reasonable scope would be memorized and playable (not necessarily to a professional standard) in a 2-4 weeks. I find that if it takes longer than that, I lose interest. So, in that way, I always approach learning something with the intent of getting there as quickly as I can, and that keeps up my interest.

Offline dogperson

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Re: Avoiding pieces at my level
Reply #2 on: April 10, 2021, 05:35:29 AM
I have yet to become bored with spending extensive time with a piece of music I love; the more I practice, the more nuances I find and the more motivated I become to practice.  Polishing is my favorite part of learning— and I can happily let it go on for a long time. 

We’re all different. If it makes you happy to play music below your level, carry on.  I would just encourage you to occasionally take the time to explore and not always just be satisfied with learning the notes and rhythm.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Avoiding pieces at my level
Reply #3 on: April 11, 2021, 01:45:12 AM
Hi all,

I've been avoiding pieces at my level for some time now. I find them too demanding, challenging, laborious, exhausting, boring, grueling, rigorous, taxing, annoying, aggravating...
When practicing works near your maximum potential you are going to naturally face many of these challenges you mentioned. It is fine to work in this environment but I always wonder why people subject themselves to it exclusively, it is just not the most efficient way to learn for the vast majority of people.


Something like that (I think). These are around RCM level 7 or 8 pieces/etudes which are around grade 5 in other syllabi like ABRSM, etc. So, they aren't way, way up in the upper echelons in terms of study/repertoire.
I think it is a misconception that more difficult works have more to teach you. I learned a great deal more from all the thousands of smaller pieces I studied than anything I learned from very difficult and long pieces. Difficult pieces can become easy when one notices that they are merely constructed with many tools you already know well. The only way to know these tools well is to study many easier pieces where you can demonstrate them without any problems at all holding you down.

There really is so much more, "easier" repertoire available, that I've gotten accustomed to learning. I find it very enjoyable to play/learn these pieces in a relatively much shorter time and with much, much less effort.
Efficient learning, learning pieces with a controlled rate where you notice the improvement during every practice session, is a good study environment to put yourself in. People tend to frustrate themselves with tough pieces which takes them extended time to first get their hands around then followed by a half baked attempt at mastering the expression. It is ok to challenge yourself with tough pieces but it should not take up the majority of your daily practice. That is easy to say don't let them take up most of your time but it's not so easy to be strict on that one as difficult pieces tend to draw you in and frustrate you and thus eat up all your time.

Anybody else here, ever get sick of a piece that they use to love because they spent so much time practicing/working on it?
I never really had problems dealing with pieces which were far too technically demanding. If something is completely alien to my hands/mind I never obsess about them wondering why I can't play them. I have often returned to these once unplayable pieces after several years and they all of a sudden are possible, thus I never obsess with pieces that are too difficult for me and always pay attention to areas where I can make progress. However I got to a point where I had enough of constantly relying on muscular/sound memory for pieces many levels below my capability. The only way to avoid this was to improve my reading skills. Now I can play many pieces immediately with mastery without any practice at all. That is empowering and the reason why I think sight reading is one of the most important skills for all "classically trained" pianists.

Sometimes an individual needs to study piano with other tools first and neglect serious sight reading development. I personally was from this group of people, I really enjoyed playing by ear and muscular memory with only a small amount of reading here and there. I really hated reading music, but eventually I came around to understanding it my saviour. I had cornered myself into how far I could push my memorization skills and playing by ear skills, yes I could improve them but the steps in improvement were very small compared to the large amount of effort put in. When I turned to sight reading the potential for improvement was vast and thus I could work hard with a lot of material and notice the benefits.

Piano study is not all about repertoire memorisation and technical patterns (scales, arpeggios etc) yet many seem to only do this exclusively.
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Offline 1piano4joe

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Re: Avoiding pieces at my level
Reply #4 on: April 11, 2021, 08:09:42 PM
When practicing works near your maximum potential you are going to naturally face many of these challenges you mentioned. It is fine to work in this environment but I always wonder why people subject themselves to it exclusively, it is just not the most efficient way to learn for the vast majority of people.

Hi lostinidlewonder,

For around 3 months or so, I exclusively worked on pieces, 3 to 7 grades lower, than my "maximum potential". I even played pre Grade 1/preparatory pieces. I wouldn't say "I worked on them".  If I did have to, it was minimal. Grades 1 to 4 pieces varied, from "mastery" in 30 minutes on the lower end of that range to maybe 3 hours, give or take on the higher.

I had several reasons for doing this:

1. I found "certain key signatures" had been neglected. I suspect this happens a lot.
2. I wasn't sure I had studied enough AMB pieces.
3. Some pieces I just played/studied just for fun. This is a really good reason!

I studied genres other than baroque, classical and romantic. They may only have been grade 1, but I found some to be surprisingly challenging. Years of classical training wasn't all that applicable.

I probably spent at least an entire month on "Connections 1" for piano by Christopher Norton. This book has 30 nonclassical pieces. Jazz, rock, blues, Latin, swing, country, funk and reggae. I learned one piece a day.

The sonatina Alberti bass left hand accompaniment was nonexistent. These pieces had "walking bass" accompaniments. Right hand scalar passages, no, didn't see any of those neither.

No minuets or gigues but instead bouncy, rhythmical coordination challenges with lots of unexpected accidentals. Reminds me sort of like the "wrong note" piece by Beethoven. Ecossaise in G I think.

Then I started "Norton's grade 2" and another month goes by.

Yes, I learned quite a bit studying maybe 100 pieces or so over several months. However, I view this as "sideways" progress. I shifted/lost my focus or goals I had for myself. I wonder if this is/was the right thing. I was supposed to be working on "Venetian Boat Song" Op. 30, no. 6 by Mendelssohn.

All these "easy" pieces made me lazy! I believe this to be one of the few dangers of  "learning too many easy pieces"!

Efficient learning, learning pieces with a controlled rate where you notice the improvement during every practice session, is a good study environment to put yourself in. People tend to frustrate themselves with tough pieces which takes them extended time to first get their hands around then followed by a half baked attempt at mastering the expression.

I stopped "easy" piece practice 3 weeks ago and resumed my former goals.

I did notice improvement during every practice session with the Bach Invention #1 but it still took 20+ hours. I'm not sure if this is considered "extended time or not" for this piece but it sure felt like it after doing those other 1 hour pieces!

Maybe the additional AMB pieces were more beneficial than I give them credit for, Joe. 




 
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