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Violin vs. Piano – Interview with Augustin Hadelich
Zlata Chochieva, famous for her recording of the complete Chopin Etudes, commented that violinist Augustin Hadelich’s performance of a Nocturne on the violin was ‘the most beautiful Chopin’ she ever heard. In this interview, Hadelich, who happens to be an excellent pianist as well, talks about his love for the violin and the piano. Read more >>

Topic: Unproductive practice sessions: how to overcome it?  (Read 309 times)

Offline wankimx3

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Unproductive practice sessions: how to overcome it?
on: January 25, 2023, 01:54:06 PM
Hi guys! I need some help. Today, I realized that I have been practicing quite passively and unproductively.

However, it wasn't because I'm too lazy to practice. It's because there were way too many distractions, from my house television (my mom and my sister were watching a movie that even me couldn't help but to watch it) and I didn't know where I should work on for my exam pieces. I felt frustrated that I didn't focus, so I stopped practicing since I know I'm going to waste more time if I do so.

What do you guys think? Do you think is it good to stop practicing if there's unproductive practice? How will you guys overcome unproductive practice sessions? I'd love to hear from you!  :)

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Unproductive practice sessions: how to overcome it?
Reply #1 on: January 25, 2023, 05:31:06 PM
Practice can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some people phase in an out of different modes while practicing while others might stay predominantly only in one certain practice gear. I guess we could separate practice modes as;

1) Relaxed/casual practice: where you don't focus on anything specifically and just play through a few pieces with no real direction or goal in mind. Usually people play things they already know and avoid playing anything that they really need to work on, it might include playing bits and pieces of things you should be practicing but you are not actually focused on that. It usually is something that can precede serious focused practice and can act as a warming up.

2) Focused practice: where you have a specific task that you want to accomplish and focus your attention only on that until you make some progress using all the practice methods and tools at your disposal. The task can be new material or solidifying problematic parts which might require more focused attention to improve, it can also involve trying to make something that is secure even more secure so that you have a lot of freedom of thought and thus increase your potential to listen and control what you are playing in a more desirable manner with less chances of error. This all however requires that you have clear goals in mind for the practice session or at least what you want to get through before standing up again. Serious practice shouldn't necessarily be timed in terms of minutes/hours but instead be measured in terms of what you are getting done. Often it is unwise to leave a practice session until you have solved a problem to a desired extent, leaving it mostly unfinished without any understandable improvement can cause quicker regression and merely have you doing much of the practice again the next time round. 

3) Relaxed/casual focused practice: This might occur after a period of serious focused practice where you are simply going through the work again in a more relaxed type approach solidifying what you learned but not pushing on ahead learning anything new. You might not get overly concerned if something is not done completely correct but do some focused practice here and there just to ensure you remember how it should be done. You are summarizing what you did during the serious practice and are playing around with it in a casual manner.

4) Sight reading and other practice: Where you simply are reading through works to practice your reading skills. This can be also segmented into serious and a more casual approach. I put sight reading practice as being separate from repertoire polishing because it can often be quite a different mode of practice. Sight reading is not just playing pieces that you have only seen once (a common definition of the skill) but many other skills that accompany it that is why I put "and other" in this 4th practice type. Skills such as theory of common patterns at the piano (scales, chords, arpeggios, progression, other common pattern and their fingerings and what they look like in the score etc), fingering logic, pattern recognition, rhythmic studies, sectioning works, logical statements to help memorize/learn passages and so on.

It is quite important to practice in a space which doesn't have distractions. That can be difficult if ones piano is in a living room where the household all gather. If you can find a place away from home to practice that is really helpful, I found during periods where I had to practice very seriously being away from home helped a great deal (I had one of my pianos stored in a church for almost 20 years and I could go there any time to practice which was super handy). Investing in a digital piano is also great as you can wear headphones and not disturb others and focus on your work. It may of course not be as good as an acoustic but the benefits for focused practice by far outweighs that disadvantage.

"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."

Offline geopianoincanada

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Re: Unproductive practice sessions: how to overcome it?
Reply #2 on: February 05, 2023, 03:56:01 AM
When my stepson moved out on his own, I converted his bedroom into a place where I can practice my piano. It isn't a very large bedroom but my piano (Roland electric piano) isn't very big.

Perhaps you don't have a spare bedroom. Maybe you can put your piano (I assume it's a smaller piano) into your bedroom? Having privacy and a door you can close is something I found to be helpful.

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