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Topic: Students are not practicing  (Read 969 times)

Offline 1hummingbird

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Students are not practicing
on: November 28, 2022, 07:52:07 PM
 :-\       Admittedly, I was never consistent with my own piano practice as a younger person.   A handful of my current students though, all beginners, do not practice nearly as much as I want them to.  It bothers me, as their parents pay me, and also it is simply a waste of time.   Parents sometimes make excuses for their children not being prepared.   Former students were incentivized with stickers, praise, etc.   Teachers, any ideas?

Offline anacrusis

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #1 on: November 30, 2022, 03:20:24 PM
Some people don't like practicing the piano, and should be allowed to discover that so they can go and do something else with their limited time on this Earth. Just my two cents.

Offline ranjit

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #2 on: November 30, 2022, 06:23:31 PM
Can you find them a piece which motivates them? Maybe the Cancan or a Strauss waltz or something familiar and fun to play?

Offline quantum

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #3 on: December 01, 2022, 03:52:32 AM
I think that, if it takes a sticker or other non music related reward to create incentive a student to practice, they should reevaluate why they are taking music lessons in the first place.  These students need to find the joy in playing piano.  They need to be given a space where they are allow to discover for themselves what draws them to music and the piano.  If piano is not their thing, they should be given the space to discover what brings them interest.

Some students do not recognize the work and effort it takes to achieve certain skills.  They may like music and piano, but get discouraged at the thought of practising long hours.  Show them the value of persistence, and how difficult tasks can be accomplished.  Show them how to practice efficiently and how to set and achieve goals.  Encourage goal oriented practice rather than time based practice. 

Educate the parents on what a healthy practice space is.  A space free of distraction, a space where the child is comfortable being themselves and allowed to explore the instrument, a space free of parental judgment, a space where they will not be subjected to unreasonable demands such as to "play properly."  A space where failure is welcome and used as a learning tool, not a reason for punishment.

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline ranjit

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #4 on: December 01, 2022, 04:15:40 AM
Some students do not recognize the work and effort it takes to achieve certain skills.  They may like music and piano, but get discouraged at the thought of practising long hours.  Show them the value of persistence, and how difficult tasks can be accomplished.  Show them how to practice efficiently and how to set and achieve goals.  Encourage goal oriented practice rather than time based practice. 
To add to this, I think it helps to find pieces or assignments which result in clear improvement which the student feels, which also feel just ever so slightly out of reach. I think this is the best way to teach the value of practice.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #5 on: December 01, 2022, 07:05:15 AM
:-\       Admittedly, I was never consistent with my own piano practice as a younger person.   A handful of my current students though, all beginners, do not practice nearly as much as I want them to.  It bothers me, as their parents pay me, and also it is simply a waste of time.   Parents sometimes make excuses for their children not being prepared.   Former students were incentivized with stickers, praise, etc.   Teachers, any ideas?
You simplify right down to the point where they can succeed. It might be a stupid little amount of work but you simply need to break the situation where work is not being complete on their own. The word "practice" also starts becoming excessively annoying for students that struggle to do so, so remove that from your vocab with these kind of students also, it can help remove that tension and resistance to actually practice.

Most students do well when you choose pieces they can relate to, whether it be from a computer game they play, movies they like to watch, music they listen to etc. But then again you have students who will still not practice even with the correct content, correct instruction etc.

I think that adults can forget how exciting it is to get a sticker or little prize from their teacher, I find absolutely zero problems with doing things like that in lessons so use it wisely!
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Offline frodo3

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #6 on: December 01, 2022, 04:41:57 PM
Use lesson time to have the student practice the assigned material.  Show the student how to practice during the lesson.  If student has some talent and shows some interest, he/she will be able to improve with just 30 minutes of practice a week during the lesson IF you are able to give a quality lesson.  The quality of the lesson is determined by the student assuming you give good instruction (which I assume to be the case). 

If the student does not practice at home AND you are unable to have a quality lesson with him - you will need to explain to parents that you are unable to help him at this time.  You canít get blood from a stone as they say.

EDIT:  You will need to be patient.  30 minutes times 50 lessons a year add to 25 hours a year practice.  25 hours practice is what you might expect to be accomplished in 2 months from a student practicing at home. 

Online brogers70

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #7 on: December 01, 2022, 05:01:32 PM
Use lesson time to have the student practice the assigned material.  Show the student how to practice during the lesson.  If student has some talent and shows some interest, he/she will be able to improve with just 30 minutes of practice a week during the lesson IF you are able to give a quality lesson.  The quality of the lesson is determined by the student assuming you give good instruction (which I assume to be the case). 

If the student does not practice at home AND you are unable to have a quality lesson with him - you will need to explain to parents that you are unable to help him at this time.  You canít get blood from a stone as they say.

EDIT:  You will need to be patient.  30 minutes times 50 lessons a year add to 25 hours a year practice.  25 hours practice is what you might expect to be accomplished in 2 months from a student practicing at home.

I like this. It was not until I'd been playing the piano for many years that a teacher even addressed the issue of how to practice (beyond simple obvious stuff like "play it slowly at first"). To have a teacher show you how to practice during your first year or two of lessons would be great, and I'll bet that for a kid 30 minutes of teacher guided practice would be more productive than several hours of unsupervised practice at home.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #8 on: December 01, 2022, 09:10:41 PM
Knowing how to practise is THE thing, almost.  Agree.

Offline quantum

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #9 on: December 01, 2022, 10:48:37 PM
I like this. It was not until I'd been playing the piano for many years that a teacher even addressed the issue of how to practice (beyond simple obvious stuff like "play it slowly at first"). To have a teacher show you how to practice during your first year or two of lessons would be great, and I'll bet that for a kid 30 minutes of teacher guided practice would be more productive than several hours of unsupervised practice at home.

The first time I was taught about quality practice and given a model of what that entails was several years after beginning piano study.  I had already studied with a few piano teachers, though the methodology of how one spends one's practice time was rarely discussed.  It was certainly a very eye opening experience, and one that undoubtedly made the notion of practice far less frustrating. 

Similar thing when I was taught how to sight read.  Previous teachers may have just said to keep reading more.  Learning how to strategize, plan, and put in place specific techniques around sight reading was so enlightening, and had an enormous impact on my practice workflow.

The value of quality teaching can not be emphasized enough.  The teacher should never assume a student knows how to do something, even if that thing seems completely obvious to the teacher as to not require a mention. 
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #10 on: December 02, 2022, 02:04:02 AM
There are troublesome students however who will not practice on their own no matter how effective or how much work they realise they can get through with a teacher during a lesson. The majority of normal students will find inspiration from all this but there are certainly those who do not and really do resist practice on their own. I have taught a number of these troublesome cases who were dropped by their previous teachers or they had left that teacher because both parties were frustrated. They can feel excited and encouraged in a lesson but when the teacher leaves all that quickly dissipates. They lack drive, self motivation, willingness to achieve, subjecting themselves to unnessary work.

These type of students can sometimes be helped though but it is a long process with a lot of patience and carefully development of their sense of responsibility which requires them to start succeeding rather than always dissapointing. Some simply never break that mindset though and it is not only with piano work but across the board.
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Offline ranjit

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #11 on: December 02, 2022, 08:03:20 AM
Previous teachers may have just said to keep reading more.  Learning how to strategize, plan, and put in place specific techniques around sight reading was so enlightening, and had an enormous impact on my practice workflow.
This is something I'm still looking to improve upon. What are those ideas, if I may ask?

Offline frodo3

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #12 on: December 02, 2022, 10:45:33 PM
This is something I'm still looking to improve upon. What are those ideas, if I may ask?

I'm sure Quantum has great ideas.  In case he doesn't get back to you:

I agree that you should do more sight reading.  The one thing I noticed in your performances is you never have music in front of you.  In the case of the Chopin prelude that you did play very well, you had a small memory problem at 1 spot that took away from making the piece totally enjoyable to the listener.  Would be nice if you had the music in front of you when you played to prevent this from happening.  If you don't have good reading skills, having the music in front of you may not help.

Here are my reading suggestions:
1) Fitzwilliam Virginal Book: The nearly 300 airs, variations, fantasies, toccatas, pavanes, galliards, allemandes, and courantes in these two volumes include some of the finest examples of Elizabethan and Jacobean music.  2 volumes on Amazon
2) Bach 4 part chorales
3) Muzio Clementi piano sonatas - get as many as you can of his 110 or so that he wrote

Spend at least 30 minutes a day reading.  Go thru each piece max 2 times before going on to the next.  Will take a while to get through all of these pieces.

Also, when you learn a new piece, start  by reading thru the piece dozens of times before starting to memorize or breaking down into sections.  You can start by fingering the piece first if you like or you can map out the fingering later after reading thru the piece many times.  Your choice.

EDIT: Actually, the material listed is too advanced, save the 4 part Bach chorales.  Maybe others can recommend different published collections of easy to intermediate piano music in a variety of styles or some progressive piano methods for beginners to intermediate students that can be used for sight reading purposes. Sorry about that. Reading thru the Bach 2 part inventions (hands separately at first) is very helpful.

Offline quantum

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #13 on: December 03, 2022, 12:56:49 AM
This is something I'm still looking to improve upon. What are those ideas, if I may ask?

The specific form of sight reading activity I am discussing below refers to playing an unfamiliar piece of music at sight.  It is to be differentiated to playing or performing previously studied music with a score. 

One of the primary aspects of sight reading is one's mindset.  Sight reading is not the same as playing a well studied piece that has been memorized.  Sight reading is also not a depth-focused study session that involves drilling down into details of a score, and learning what makes a piece of music tick.  In this specific case, sight reading would refer to a method of conveying the essence of a piece, it's most salient characteristics, without the opportunity for previous in-depth study. 

Defining and managing priorities.  In sight reading one may not be able to capture all the detail and expression one desires, but that is okay, details can be sorted out later, at a different stage of learning the music.  The goal is to capture the essence of a piece.  One needs to choose the most important aspects to focus on, in order to avoid information overload. 

Forming a strategy for sight reading.  An analogy would be using a map as a source of directions for a road trip, to a place one is not familiar with, in order to get from point A to point B.  Would it be a good idea to get in one's car and start driving, then at arbitrary moments check the map if one is any closer, or farther, or even pointed in the correct direction of the destination?  Of course not, but unfortunately this is how many people approach sight reading - just start reading and see if you get anywhere, the equivalent of driving around in random directions to see if you will eventually end up at your destination.  It would be a far better strategy to plot the best course on the map before starting to drive.  One could also take it a step further and check live traffic conditions, and even plot detours around road construction and other gridlocked areas. 

Skim quickly through the entire music excerpt to be sight read.  Identify important markers: the start and end of major sections, repeats, 1st and 2nd endings, da capo, etc.  Identify sectional key changes and metre changes.  Identify essential tempo suggestions (eg: If the piece is ternary form with Allegro, Adagio, and da capo Allegro, these aspects form an important part of the primary character of such piece).  Identify how major sections end or come to cadence. 

After you have examined the large elements, work on identifying what I would call medium sized elements.  If an element like a scale, chord progression, arpeggio, accompaniment figure, rhythmic cell, etc. is constantly repeated, it is likely important.  One does not want to struggle with a cell structure, if it constantly occurs throughout the piece. 

Identify any sections that may demand increased workload or give difficulty.  Things like key changes, modulations, sections with lots of accidentals, awkward looking passage work, etc.  You don't have to work them out, just know they are there, and where they occur.  These are like the traffic jams and road construction in our above analogy. 

The above skimming procedure is often given 30 to 60 seconds on an exam, so that should give you an idea of how much time is reasonable to devote to it, even if you are not playing for exams. 

When sight reading and playing through the music, aim to read ahead and keep your eyes moving forward.  The point where your eyes are gathering information should be ahead of the sounds you are making.  This does mean you will be keeping track of at least two different spots in the music at any given time, ears at one point, eyes at another point.  Once you read a portion of the score move on - the score will not change no matter how long you stare at it.  Don't waste time rereading repeated figures, read the first, count the number of iterations, then move on.  Keep the eyes moving, even if you feel you have a break or easy section in the music.  Avoid fixating your eyes on a specific spot, the difficulty of a passage won't change no matter how intensely you stare at it, keep your eyes moving.  Work on identifying blocks of familiar material: a scale, chord, pattern, rhythm, etc.  Read the block as a single unit not as individual notes.  For example: if you recognize the A major scale, what you need are: starting note, direction, ending note, rhythmic value.  You already know that it is an A major scale, no need to read every note of it. 

Don't worry about perfect fingering, just use what works.  You can work out better fingering when studying the piece in depth at a subsequent stage of learning.

Prioritize rhythm and metre over pitch.  This might pose a challenge those accustomed to Western European classical music, as this music tends to be much more creatively active in the pitch and harmony domain than in the rhythmic domain. 

Improvise when needed in order to convey the essential characteristics of the music.  You do have a distinct advantage here, over pianists that don't engage in improvisation.

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline frodo3

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #14 on: December 03, 2022, 01:51:46 AM
Quantum gives a great discussion on playing an UNFAMILIAR piece of music at sight.  It is to be differentiated to playing or performing previously studied music with a score.  This is true sight reading.

What I would like to mention here is the following other scenario Ė performing previously studied music with a score.  Iím just trying to be helpful here.  I may be saying things that are not of interest to Ranjit and I apologize if this is the case.

Ranjit Ė when you posted a performance here of Chopin fantaisie impromptu maybe a year or 2 ago, you did so playing from memory without music.  I recall that the tough, rapid A section was played with good flow, although a little rough around the edges.  The easy, lyrical B section and especially the coda totally fell apart due to memory problems.  Why didnít you have the music on your piano when you played and posted this?  You should have been able to play this beautifully if the music was available to you.  I just want to make sure that your reading ability is good enough to aid you in a performance.  If you had used music to play thru the B section and coda of the Chopin fantaisie impromptu, would it have sounded polished?  If YES, my advice is to read from music while performing for people until you have memorized the piece solidly.  If NO, you need to work on your reading skills!  I would say that in general, pianists that can play the A section of the fantaisie impromptu well would be able to sight read the easier B section without any problems.

Offline frodo3

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #15 on: December 03, 2022, 02:18:49 AM
The specific form of sight reading activity I am discussing below refers to playing an unfamiliar piece of music at sight.  It is to be differentiated to playing or performing previously studied music with a score. 


True sight reading.  You probably know of famous examples in history.  My favorite:  Young Brahms at age 20 meets Liszt in 1853.  Liszt asks Brahms to perform, but he is too nervous.  He hands Liszt his sloppy handwritten copy of his to be op. 4 Scherzo in E-flat minor (of all keys)!  Liszt looks at it for about 10 seconds then performs it perfectly.  Later in the visit, Brahms falls asleep while hearing one of the greatest masterpieces in 19th century piano literature - the recently completed Liszt piano sonata.

Offline ranjit

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #16 on: December 03, 2022, 11:12:13 PM
Finally got time to respond to this.
The one thing I noticed in your performances is you never have music in front of you.  In the case of the Chopin prelude that you did play very well, you had a small memory problem at 1 spot that took away from making the piece totally enjoyable to the listener.  Would be nice if you had the music in front of you when you played to prevent this from happening.  If you don't have good reading skills, having the music in front of you may not help.
I find it hard to have the music in front of me and also listen to my "inner ear" so I just memorize it. Also, for performances, I also want to train and keep my memory sharp and this is a skill that improves with use.

Here are my reading suggestions:
1) Fitzwilliam Virginal Book: The nearly 300 airs, variations, fantasies, toccatas, pavanes, galliards, allemandes, and courantes in these two volumes include some of the finest examples of Elizabethan and Jacobean music.  2 volumes on Amazon
2) Bach 4 part chorales
3) Muzio Clementi piano sonatas - get as many as you can of his 110 or so that he wrote
Thank you! This is very useful and I've earmarked the pieces.

Also, when you learn a new piece, start  by reading thru the piece dozens of times before starting to memorize or breaking down into sections.  You can start by fingering the piece first if you like or you can map out the fingering later after reading thru the piece many times.  Your choice.
Yes, I do this as well nowadays. It's something I'm improving upon and it's getting more usable as my sight reading improves.

What I would like to mention here is the following other scenario Ė performing previously studied music with a score.  Iím just trying to be helpful here.
I have a fairly good memory and atrocious reading skills relative to my level which probably won't catch up for several years, so there's that. Also, I'm very much a "by ear" person, so I don't like to have notation in front of me when I perform. But during lessons, I always have the score in front of me, and for sufficiently easy pieces, I might even use it. The problem is that the auditory memory and reading from the score haven't "fused" for me yet as you see in experienced readers, so it always trips me up at random places and I play much worse as a result.

Offline ranjit

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #17 on: December 03, 2022, 11:20:17 PM
Ranjit Ė when you posted a performance here of Chopin fantaisie impromptu maybe a year or 2 ago, you did so playing from memory without music.  I recall that the tough, rapid A section was played with good flow, although a little rough around the edges.  The easy, lyrical B section and especially the coda totally fell apart due to memory problems.  Why didnít you have the music on your piano when you played and posted this?  You should have been able to play this beautifully if the music was available to you.  I just want to make sure that your reading ability is good enough to aid you in a performance.  If you had used music to play thru the B section and coda of the Chopin fantaisie impromptu, would it have sounded polished?  If YES, my advice is to read from music while performing for people until you have memorized the piece solidly.  If NO, you need to work on your reading skills!  I would say that in general, pianists that can play the A section of the fantaisie impromptu well would be able to sight read the easier B section without any problems.
So, on this point: I have an unconventional background. I only started learning pieces from the score two years ago, and had to develop my sight reading from scratch back then starting with "easy exercises in C" type stuff. https://michaelkravchuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/354-Reading-Exercises-in-C-Position-Full-Score.pdf

At the same time, I had largely taught myself prior to that. The video you may have seen of me playing the Fantaisie Impromptu is after less than 6 months of piano lessons (and about the same amount of time after starting to learn to sight read). Before that, I was not serious about classical music and would primarily play my own arrangements and improvisations. Post that video, I started completely from scratch (Alfred level 1 type stuff and five finger position exercises) and attempted to rework my technique which until that point was largely self-taught. It's a long and complicated story to explain, so I'll leave it at that.

My teacher also insists on reading from the score, which I can do for simple (< grade 4) pieces. But I see no way to get my sight reading level to catch up to my playing level for several years.

Offline ranjit

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #18 on: December 04, 2022, 12:17:18 AM
In this specific case, sight reading would refer to a method of conveying the essence of a piece, it's most salient characteristics, without the opportunity for previous in-depth study.
Do you think it's important to practice learning to sight read this way, though? Wouldn't the process of learning to sight read be understanding the patterns until they are internalized? Would that be a necessary precursor to developing the ability to convey the salient characteristics of a piece without the opportunity for prior study?

The above skimming procedure is often given 30 to 60 seconds on an exam, so that should give you an idea of how much time is reasonable to devote to it, even if you are not playing for exams. 
The skimming strategies make sense. Sometimes I find it hard to keep all of this in memory but that probably points more to a lack of practice than anything. That said, I feel like the process of decoding the patterns fast enough is what holds me back, more so than understanding the general theme which I think I can do decently well.

When sight reading and playing through the music, aim to read ahead and keep your eyes moving forward.  The point where your eyes are gathering information should be ahead of the sounds you are making.  This does mean you will be keeping track of at least two different spots in the music at any given time, ears at one point, eyes at another point.  Once you read a portion of the score move on - the score will not change no matter how long you stare at it.  Don't waste time rereading repeated figures, read the first, count the number of iterations, then move on.  Keep the eyes moving, even if you feel you have a break or easy section in the music.  Avoid fixating your eyes on a specific spot, the difficulty of a passage won't change no matter how intensely you stare at it, keep your eyes moving.  Work on identifying blocks of familiar material: a scale, chord, pattern, rhythm, etc.  Read the block as a single unit not as individual notes.  For example: if you recognize the A major scale, what you need are: starting note, direction, ending note, rhythmic value.  You already know that it is an A major scale, no need to read every note of it. 
In order to practice this, would you simply just sight read a lot, or would there be a particular order of difficulty or additional exercises in order to improve the efficiency with which you can do this?

Offline frodo3

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #19 on: December 04, 2022, 12:45:14 AM
So, on this point: I have an unconventional background. I only started learning pieces from the score two years ago, and had to develop my sight reading from scratch back then starting with "easy exercises in C" type stuff. https://michaelkravchuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/354-Reading-Exercises-in-C-Position-Full-Score.pdf

At the same time, I had largely taught myself prior to that. The video you may have seen of me playing the Fantaisie Impromptu is after less than 6 months of piano lessons (and about the same amount of time after starting to learn to sight read). Before that, I was not serious about classical music and would primarily play my own arrangements and improvisations. Post that video, I started completely from scratch (Alfred level 1 type stuff and five finger position exercises) and attempted to rework my technique which until that point was largely self-taught. It's a long and complicated story to explain, so I'll leave it at that.

My teacher also insists on reading from the score, which I can do for simple (< grade 4) pieces. But I see no way to get my sight reading level to catch up to my playing level for several years.

This explains everything.  Not being able to read music from a score to match your playing level leaves you at a big disadvantage.  You will need to rely on your memory which will require significant extra work.  This will be especially true when you start playing Beethoven sonatas for example.  Iíve heard many students mess up the recapitulation of a sonata by ending in the wrong key, for example.  Playing Schoenberg will be out of the question, Iím guessing.  Being able to use a score to aid in your performance is a great benefit.  I understand that many university recitals or competitions do not allow use of music.   But still, you are at a great disadvantage.

Here are my suggestions for site reading:
Do read from Bach 4-part chorales now.  They are important and within your ability, I believe.
Being a good site reader involves being able to read music in all different styles Ė Baroque, classical, romantic and modern.  You can be a great site reader in Bach and be terrible at Liszt, and visa-vera. 
I would work to get a collection of 500* pieces with an emphasis on Baroque and classical styles but includes Romantic and Modern.  The pieces would ideally be at maybe grade levels 3,4,5 and would be ones that you never heard before.  Read thru each piece 2 times.  It should be at a level where it can be played slowly with mistakes but the music flows fairly well without constant stops and stutters.  Read thru all 500* then repeat, THEN REPEAT AGAIN.  Here is the trick Ė how do you acquire such a collection?  Maybe get a piano-street membership and use their level rating to help you pick.  Pick works you never heard before.  Getting this collection may take a while Ė but it will well be worth your time!! 

Also, see what Quantum has to say!

*EDIT:  500 pieces is a little grandiose.  I would start with about 100 pieces and then add more later.

Offline ranjit

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #20 on: December 04, 2022, 01:17:43 AM
This explains everything.  Not being able to read music from a score to match your playing level leaves you at a big disadvantage.  You will need to rely on your memory which will require significant extra work.  This will be especially true when you start playing Beethoven sonatas for example.  Iíve heard many students mess up the recapitulation of a sonata by ending in the wrong key, for example.  Playing Schoenberg will be out of the question, Iím guessing.  Being able to use a score to aid in your performance is a great benefit.  I understand that many university recitals or competitions do not allow use of music.   But still, you are at a great disadvantage.
Haha that's a bit blunt but you're largely right. I suppose the saving grace is that I memorize reasonably fast. I don't know what's typical, but it took me a week to get the notes for the Raindrop Prelude, and the recording was exactly after one month of starting the piece. The part where I blanked near the end was because I got lost in the sound and was paying so much attention that I forgot to think about what came next.

I won't say playing anything is out of the question. After all, university recitals and competitions do not allow it and people memorize just fine. But it does take maybe twice as long.

Do read from Bach 4-part chorales now.  They are important and within your ability, I believe.
I find them difficult. I can play them maybe at 30 bpm or so but it takes me time to understand each harmony, which makes me wonder if they are still useful or beyond my ability.

I would work to get a collection of 500+ pieces with an emphasis on Baroque and classical styles but includes Romantic and Modern.  The pieces would ideally be at maybe grade levels 3,4,5 and would be ones that you never heard before.  Read thru each piece 2 times.  It should be at a level where it can be played slowly with mistakes but the music flows fairly well without constant stops and stutters.  Read thru all 500 then repeat, THEN REPEAT AGAIN.  Here is the trick Ė how do you acquire such a collection?  Maybe get a piano-street membership and use their level rating to help you pick.  Pick works you never heard before.  Getting this collection may take a while Ė but it will well be worth your time!! 
Having such a collection of works readily at hand is a great idea.

Online brogers70

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #21 on: December 04, 2022, 01:49:49 AM
I find them difficult. I can play them maybe at 30 bpm or so but it takes me time to understand each harmony, which makes me wonder if they are still useful or beyond my ability.
Having such a collection of works readily at hand is a great idea.

Bach chorales are great music. I find them difficult mainly because it's hard to figure out which hand to use to play the tenor voice (at least when trying to read at full tempo), and it often has to switch between hands. Getting good at that is probably a prerequisite for being a good church keyboardist, but it's a very specific problem that does not come up all that much in many kinds of music - you could read through lots of Mozart and Haydn, and even modern editions of Bach fugues without having the same amount of jumping between hands as occurs in the tenor parts of lots of the chorales. It's a skill that definitely gets better with practice, but it isn't the thing I'd pick to work on first, among all the skills needed for sight reading.

Offline frodo3

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #22 on: December 04, 2022, 02:02:16 AM
Bach chorales are great music. I find them difficult mainly because it's hard to figure out which hand to use to play the tenor voice (at least when trying to read at full tempo), and it often has to switch between hands. Getting good at that is probably a prerequisite for being a good church keyboardist, but it's a very specific problem that does not come up all that much in many kinds of music - you could read through lots of Mozart and Haydn, and even modern editions of Bach fugues without having the same amount of jumping between hands as occurs in the tenor parts of lots of the chorales. It's a skill that definitely gets better with practice, but it isn't the thing I'd pick to work on first, among all the skills needed for sight reading.

I agree with all here.  I still would spend a little time on them though.  Maybe 5% of reading time.  They are good for developing a beautiful, balanced sound and they have such a therapeutic quality to them.  It's ok to play them very slowly at first - but keep a steady beat!

Offline perfect_pitch

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #23 on: December 04, 2022, 02:32:53 AM
Bach chorales are great music. I find them difficult mainly because it's hard to figure out which hand to use to play the tenor voice (at least when trying to read at full tempo), and it often has to switch between hands.

I'm a little bit more evil than that. I use them to help students focus on voicing. Sometimes I'll pull out a Bach Chorale and ask them to accent the Tenor line, or the Bass line or the Alto line.

Offline frodo3

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #24 on: December 04, 2022, 02:45:03 AM
I'm a little bit more evil than that. I use them to help students focus on voicing. Sometimes I'll pull out a Bach Chorale and ask them to accent the Tenor line, or the Bass line or the Alto line.



Absolutely!  Plus they help with reading and are therapy for the sole soul!  ;)

Ranjit: 30 minutes a day sight reading is 180 hours a year.
5% * 180 hours on Bach chorales = 9 hours a year or 45 minutes a month. Do on 1st day of the month.
Play as slowly as you like, but keep a beautiful sound and steady beat.
This is just a suggestion of course.  :D

Offline 1hummingbird

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Re: Students are not practicing
Reply #25 on: December 11, 2022, 06:51:07 AM
Thanks so much to those who responded.  ;)   I like the idea, as one of you mentioned, of "goal-oriented practice," and also use of some other word besides, 'practice,' to describe assigned piano study.   As far as stickers and other incentives, I'll continue with them.  What's wrong with a little bit of color and fun?  Perhaps I should add that most of my students are children.     I want them to enjoy playing, reach for the piano without being prompted, and get some satisfaction out of completing pieces (if there is such a thing).  I don't expect them to necessarily learn quickly, I just want to see some improvement.   
 

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