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Topic: When you make a mistake practicing, do you go over it again, or keep going?  (Read 3371 times)

Offline jbmajor

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??


I usually stop to try to play it again, but am wondering if one way is better than the other for learning the material. 

Offline Vivers

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I try not to go back because that builds an automatic response mechanism, where you might end up replaying stuff, and though you may be keeping that in your practicing, it may get into your performances. It also makes it hard to get used to playing things from top to bottom cleanly.

Try circling the areas where you make mistakes and going back to fix them later, and in great detail so you won't make that mistake again, even when you're performing and maybe are nervous or whatever.

Offline Grane

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Great question.  The corollary question might be if you're learning a piece, do you play it through or work on the sections.

Cooke in his book compared the tough parts (for us) as fractures - that once you work on them they are stronger than other parts - like a healed bone.  He suggests learning the tough parts separately.

Glen Gould supposedly did not play a piece through entirely until he performed or recorded it -- to keep it fresh. He just worked on the parts.

Having taken lessons for just 3 years I'm wondering too about whether its worth playing a piece through or just focusing on the "fractures."

Lately been trying to focus on the parts that need work and not take (waste?) the time playing something through. Unless you're performing, what advantage is there to playing something you know well?

Ed

Offline Brian Healey

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I like to practice a piece two ways:

1. Working on the individual parts, trying to get the hard parts mastered and up to tempo.

2. Working on the piece as a whole at a slow speed. Slow enough where I can play effortlessly and flawlessly.


I think there are benefits to both methods, so why not do them both?



Solid,
Bri

Offline whynot

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I agree with Brian.  I practice the same music in different ways to accomplish different goals.  I practice hard spots in sections, I practice whole pieces at slow tempo to play as well as I can, and I practice at what-the-heck performance tempo.  For me, the important thing is the self-control of keeping to a particular task in the moment.  I   make myself decide beforehand whether or not I'll stop, and I stick with the plan. 

Someone also asked why not just work on the parts we don't know yet, which really is a good question.  I think one answer has to do with working out a vision for our pieces in their entirety (entireties?).  Of course we can make a lot of those decisions without playing, but it makes a difference when we keep experiencing the playing of a piece as a whole over time.  Also, we might not perceive the overall physical (or emotional) demands of a piece without playing the whole thing, and we may have to practice the mental stamina to stay focused on a really long work.       


Offline Bartolomeo

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There is no one right answer.  It's a matter of balance and it depends how far along in working on the piece you are and what your goals are, as well as the causes of the mistake.

The problem with stopping and backing up every time you make a mistake is that if you're not careful, you'll condition yourself to stop whenever you make a mistake.  And then you'll end up doing it when you make a mistake while performing.  There are many playing situations where an occasional mistake is tolerable but where stopping is unacceptable.

The problem with not stopping is that if you're not careful, you'll end up repeating the mistake and in essence learning the mistake as part of the piece.

If I'm sightreading something I ignore mistakes and keep going.  Actually, that's not quite true.  I don't really evalute my playing for accuracy while sightreading so I usually don't even recognize the mistake, because I'm mentally a measure or two ahead in the music.

If I'm in the early stages of learning a piece and working out fingerings and so forth, when I make a mistake, I continue for a measure or two so as to allow time for a deliberate decision to stop and back up, which is what I do.  Then I try to isolate the mistake and figure out what happened and whether anything need be done to fix it.

In the middle to later stages, where I pretty much have the notes down and am working on expression and building up speed and so forth, I usually keep going, especially if I think that it's a random sort of inattention-induced or speed-induced mistake.  I note the location and if it happens again next time through I'll stop.

I think the important thing is to be deliberate about it and actually make a reasoned decision rather than always stopping or never stopping.

Offline pianonut

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incorrect pedalling now stops me.  the notes usually don't because i know i don't always hit the wrong notes (but usually make pedalling mistakes in the same places).
do you know why benches fall apart?  it is because they have lids with little tiny hinges so you can store music inside them.  hint:  buy a bench that does not hinge.  buy it for sturdiness.

Offline janice

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  It's a matter of balance and it depends how far along in working on the piece you are
Exactly!!!  I totally agree with everything Bartolomeo said, but especially this.  In fact, I was trying to get the right balance in a piece I was practicing today.  Because the performance of the piece is in about a month.  So I asked myself, "Ok, should I begin "conditioning" myself to recover from mistakes and just keep going, like I would in a performance?"  And (I am being serious here) "at what point should I stop talking to myself during practice, so as not to accidentally blurt out something in front of people?"

I really liked your idea of continuing on for a measure or so AFTER the blooper, and THEN going back to fix it.  By waiting those few seconds, you try to move the act of stopping from automatic to deliberate.  Great idea!
Co-president of the Bernhard fan club!

Offline orlandopiano

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I am with Bartolomeo.

Offline SteinwayTony

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Busoni thought it a cardinal sin to play a passage incorrectly and not return to it immediately.

Offline nick

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I start the practice slow enough that there are no mistakes, small sections first of course. Practice starts when the repetitions are perfect. Then just keep repeating however many you have alloted for that session. Of course there are different ways I break up the passage, in two's and three's, then six's per beat, so the tempo stays the same yet the speed gradually increases as the number of notes increases per beat. This is perfect each time as the tempo is relatively slow. So perfect practice makes perfect performance.

Nick

Offline rodrk352

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Question: have you ever been forced to sit through someone else's practice session, while they are desperately trying to iron out a certain difficult passage? For example, someone who can't get the opening to Grieg's piano concerto to sound just right.  They play it over and over again till you want to scream. I'm a perfectionist in certain things, but small imperfections when I play the piano never bother me. Maybe I don't want to pay the price with heavy, painful repetitious practice sessions.

Offline PianoMan7753

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The problem with stopping and backing up every time you make a mistake is that if you're not careful, you'll condition yourself to stop whenever you make a mistake.  And then you'll end up doing it when you make a mistake while performing.  There are many playing situations where an occasional mistake is tolerable but where stopping is unacceptable.

I am a perfect example of this. Every time I make an error I must replay that measure. I'm one of those who thought they could keep it separate from their recital performances but I was wrong. Halfway through my piece I skipped a note and instinctively played the whole measure over again. I was so embarrassed afterwards, instead of returning to my seat I ran towards the back of the theatre. I've been trying to correct my habit but it really is a hard habit to break.

Offline SDL

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I think its important to practice the piece slowly all the way through as mentioned before in this thread, so that you get a sense of the music's struture and direction lyrically and harmonically - ie pacing - which is what you do when you are performing.

But I think weak sections should also be practiced separately and also hands separately then together,  breaking down as far as you need to even its a .. "do I need to raise my wrist here etc)".  My previous teacher also said to practice right at the bottom of the metronome thinking musically all the time and work your way up.  This takes a lot of concentration!!! I found it can kill the music totally though by the time Im up to speed Im so bored and must be boring to listen to.  So I tempered this suggestion a little. ;D
BUT I think everything should be practiced musically and never mechanically since the latter causes more problems in the end.
"Never argue with idiots - first they drag you down to their level, then they beat you with experience."

Offline quasimodo

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In order to avoid the bad reflex of stopping on a mistake, I keep going. The problem is that the mistake often makes me very angry and this kills my concentration so it generates other mistakes in the piece.

As far as I'm a beginner, I only learn/play short pieces so sometimes, I re-start the whole piece from the beginning.
" On ne joue pas du piano avec deux mains : on joue avec dix doigts. Chaque doigt doit être une voix qui chante"

Samson François

Offline BoliverAllmon

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If I make a mistake I usually stop go back a little bit, get a playing start into the spot I made a mistake. If I figure it out and don't make a mistake I continue on. If i made the mistake again, then I keep working on this. If I practice with mistakes, I will perform with mistakes. i can't just play on and hope it doesn't happen again.

boliver

Offline Rez

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Cooke in his book compared the tough parts (for us) as fractures - that once you work on them they are stronger than other parts - like a healed bone.  He suggests learning the tough parts separately.


Grane,

Fractures, I like that.  Could you tell us which Cooke?  I found a few who wrote books on piano.

Thanks.
The artist does nothing that others deem beautiful, but rather only what to him is a necessity.
~Schoenberg, Theory of Harmony

Offline delpetrarca

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I think it depends on what you are trying to achieve.
If you are playing just for the sake of enjoying playing, you may keep going just to keep the music flow - I think you'll gain more satisfaction that way.
But if you're a professional and aim for playing a piece as technically flawless as possible at some point, you should definately practice in parts...

Offline ted

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If it is a one-off slip and has not occurred before then no, I don't worry about it; I am not a performer and I'm not that fussy. However, if the error occurs in the same place whenever I play that particular piece then I attend to it, otherwise it becomes a habit and I end up practising the mistake.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline gerry

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I don't know how many readers are familiar with the the legendary pianist, Ruth Schlenzenska (spelling - sorry??) She apparently had a very abusive upbringing by a father hell-bent on her success - things like locking her in the basement to practice as a little girl, etc. One of the particularly horrific stories was that she was required to practice a piece with a bowl full of beans on one side of the piano and an empty bowl on the other side. Each time she completed the piece without a mistake she would transfer a bean to the bowl on the other side--one mistake and all the beans would have to go back to the original bowl and she had to start all over until she could transfer all the beans. She ended up quite an accomplished (if somewhat mannered) pianist but apparently had many psychological problems. I think a teacher has to impress the student to first of all make a true reading of the music; i.e., make sure you're playing the right notes and dynamics (in spite of G. Schirmer et al). In the case of challenging passages, there's nothing wrong with repeating them until accurate, but when practicing an entire piece, make mental notes of inaccuracies and correct them later.  But for God's sake, don't turn into a "bean counter". ::)
Durch alle Töne tönet
Im bunten Erdentraum
Ein leiser Ton gezogen
Für den, der heimlich lauschet.

Offline edouard

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Hello there,
One tought, (agreeing with Bartolomeo)

|I was at an xmas recital of a teacher in town (smaller students - lets say 8 to 14) and I was astounded at how bad they ALL were. For one main reason: I wasn't lack of musicality, etc it because NOT ONE student played a piece from beginning to end without stopping at least twice after a mistake or a blank.
This is IMO due to two factors: first one would be lack of correct memorizing (continuity rule, overlaps, eg keep interconnecting sections when practising), but the major problem I think is that the teacher had obviously never commented on their habits of stopping instinctively as soon as they made a mistake. It was absolutely hair raising to watch (in the bad sense) because you were just waiting for the next stumble and PAINFUL silence. In other words this was the longest audition in my life !
No pianist would ever want to reach this result and a whole lot of students from where i currently live (Any belgians out here by any chance??) have developed this bad habit.

so my advice is: play through your mistakes so that your brain 'passes on' to the next set of notes and 'disconnects' from the mistaken part and then return to the beginning. Then work on the mistake by isolating it to the smallest element possible. (eg Cortot's 'five elements' or whatever else you feel like)

The most important thing to have in mind I think is that
1) mistakes happen but if the piece equates with your level and is learnt correctly, they should be very rare and should not block the flow of the piece (and you can control your nerves). Eg well you miss a jump in a Liszt etude - well most people do miss one or two.
1a) as I remember reading in CCChang's oft quoted and often right (!) book: the important thing is that the mistakes are not repeated and therefore become part of your interpretation of the piece.  (eg you always miss one note in the opening of the Grieg concerto). Maybe a linguistic comparison would help: if you know what you're going to say and you make a few 'erms' and 'ahs', people generally are not bothered. Whereas if you stop mid sentence and start the sentence over again, people will certainly be taken aback.
2) a normal audience (ie not the collected masses of the piano forum senior members) almost never notices that sort of mistake if you play through it.
3) there is no sense in developping a bad habit during practice and thinking that you will 'get it all right' during concert, because when you make a mistake during concert the will immediately kick in
4) if you have developed this habit you must rid of it. A good idea may be sight-reading loads of music and focusing exclusively on never stopping. Or playing through your favourite repertoire and focusing on not stopping. and then it will eventually come of its own accord.

best wishes,

edouard








Offline Glyptodont

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Early on with a new piece I just try to hit all the notes.  Later I will start to incorporate the dynamics (piano, forte, etc).

I will replay sections.  Usually the first page or two get learned ahead of the rest of the piece.

At a certain point, I no longer stop for mistakes.  I may even set a metronome and try to get through the entire piece.   At this point, I try to avoid "the train going off the tracks" -- mistakes so severe I have to stop.

I write on my music if there are certain measures where I always seem make the same mistake.  As a flag.

I memorize some of the fastest or most difficult passages, because without doing so I know I will either hesitate, make mistakes, or "send the train off the tracks."

This is just me.  Hope this helps.

Offline Grane

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Rez -- sorry for the delay, obviously have not been avidly following.

At any rate you asked about my reference to Cooke's book.  Its "Playing the Piano for Pleasure" by Charles Cooke, Greenwood Press.

Cooke was a writer for "New Yorker" mag and wrote about touring pianists in the 1930s.  Since he as an amateur player, he asked all of them what tricks, lessons or techniques they learned to make them better.

He compiled all his findings in his book -- which very much speaks to the questions being raised.  Book is highly recommended even if you don't follow all the things that Horowitz, Hofmann, Schnabel etc. said.

Offline ramseytheii

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??


I usually stop to try to play it again, but am wondering if one way is better than the other for learning the material. 

Mistakes are so interesting.  One little mistake, can be mined for a vast amount of invaluable knowledge of how we play, and we can improve.  I pay the most attention to my mistakes, because one little stream, always leads to the source.
Every error should be taken seriously, and explored like the catacombs under St. Peter's.

Walter Ramsey

Offline apion

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I like to practice a piece two ways:
1. Working on the individual parts, trying to get the hard parts mastered and up to tempo.
2. Working on the piece as a whole at a slow speed. Slow enough where I can play effortlessly and flawlessly.

And I would add a "phase 3," whereupon you play an individual segment up to speed, and if you make a mistake, you go back and start over.

Offline Dazzer

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i agree. The first thing to work on always should be phrases, or sections. If there should be a problem within that section, work on that bar. Then work to weld all the sections together.

Offline nanabush

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Ok is it weird if I learn several measures at a time, then keep playing until I have them up to speed with moderate dynamics, then work on the next section alone, then add that on top, then with dynamics, until I'm finished the piece, then look for more details I have missed...
Interested in discussing:

-Prokofiev Toccata
-Scriabin Sonata 2

Offline gezellig2005

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I leave it and go on, but remember where i got things wrong.
Usually i won't make the same mistake. Unless it's a passage that really requires alot of practicing.

Offline jhon

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I try not to go back because that builds an automatic response mechanism, where you might end up replaying stuff, and though you may be keeping that in your practicing, it may get into your performances. It also makes it hard to get used to playing things from top to bottom cleanly.

Try circling the areas where you make mistakes and going back to fix them later, and in great detail so you won't make that mistake again, even when you're performing and maybe are nervous or whatever.

I agree.  My teacher said it's immature to start again from the beginning when you happen to play a mistake in the middle of the piece.  Better yet, she adds, finish the whole piece then just repeat it again in another round. 

Offline gorbee natcase

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I trust my own judgement and so should everyone else.
(\_/)
(O.o)
(> <)      What ever Bernhard said

Offline happyface94

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Depends for what, even if I always take it back when im in front of my teacher, I never do in recitals. Anyhow, people always know when I make a mistake anyway ( apparently I make some gesture with my head or face whatever). You should note that you made a mistake there in your head and correct it as fast as possible. Which is why I believe that continuing for practice is bad because then you can condition yourself to make that mistake :p

Offline danyal

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If you ignore a mistake that you've just made and dont correct it immediatey, your subconscience registers that mistake as the right note (your SC doesnt know the difference between a right and wrong note, just does what you've programmed it to do). If you do not correct it immediately, chances are, its there to stay. Or you'll spend far too much time practising it out again. Time that you could've spet learning the rest of he piece. Or progressing on.

As for the performing side of things... It was said earlier, that if you constantly go back every time you make a mistake while practising, you'll do it on stage aswell. Not if you can help it. If you've practised properly, and worked all the mistakes out, then you'll be fine on stage. Once, you've perfected the piece, play it through, again and again, until you've gotten used to what the piece is, as a whole. Also, when on stage, and nerves start kicking in, you automatically revert back to doing what you've done the most. (so if you've made mistakes 80% of the time, and only had it perfect 20%, you're most likely going to screw up on stage, which is why perfection repitition is so important),
As for the nerves, you only really get nervous if you are not fully prepared (unure of whether you know your music or not) If you are entirely confident that you can play every note backwards in your sleep then ther would be no point in getting nervous...
I dont play an instrument, I play the piano.

Offline apion

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Sometimes I do it over, sometimes I keep going.  It depends on the nature of my mistake, and the level of perfection I'm seeking (e.g., how close I am to the final performance event).

Offline yamagal

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Rez -- sorry for the delay, obviously have not been avidly following.

At any rate you asked about my reference to Cooke's book.  Its "Playing the Piano for Pleasure" by Charles Cooke, Greenwood Press.

Cooke was a writer for "New Yorker" mag and wrote about touring pianists in the 1930s.  Since he as an amateur player, he asked all of them what tricks, lessons or techniques they learned to make them better.

He compiled all his findings in his book -- which very much speaks to the questions being raised.  Book is highly recommended even if you don't follow all the things that Horowitz, Hofmann, Schnabel etc. said.

I cannot thank you enough for recommending this book.  I ordered a used copy and got it today - about to start Pt. 2 already.  It is truly inspirational and a great encouragement.  I'm wondering if anyone else here has implemented its principles and gotten the promised results.  If so, then I've got to think my goals are within reach after all...  with plenty of practice, that is!   ;)
The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing.  - Pascal

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