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Topic: An amazing breakthrough in my playing and practice.  (Read 2491 times)

Offline ahmedito

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Last week I reached an all time low in my playing and practice. I really wasnt able to practice enough, because my back hurt so much from not doing my Alexander technique and over practice, the pieces I am working on right now had reached a point where they were simply not getting better... these pieces are:

Liszt second Ballade, Bach fifth Partita, Mozart concerto number nine, Three short pieces by Manuel Ponce and some Satie music.

I would just slave over the piano, without actually improving a great deal. So, my teacher left for a week to teach masterclasses in the US of A, so I decided I would take a day off, listen to records, read up... maybe see whats the problem.

So I stumbled across interviews with Glenn Gould on mental practice, and that got me thinking: the last eight months Ive been studying with my current teacher.... I havent really been doing what she tells me, have I? I cling to my practice hours like Linus to his blanket, until I lose all sense of the utility of practice... looking back, I remember that my teacher always says that you play the piano with your MIND. All you need is a great imagination, I read up all I could on mental practice. She actually forbid me to practice more than 3 hours a day (I practice 6-7 anyway---though Im sure she can manage with 1), because I actually slaved over the piano for 8-12 hours, although now I have no idea what I was actually doing at the time.

Anyways,  I started a regime three days ago (at last using my head :)).... every night half an hour of Alexander technique and half an hour of mental practice, and half an hour before lunch, alexander technique and strenous mental practice. That left me about two hours for the Bach, two for the Liszt and two for the Mozart and an hour for the rest.

I decided to change my practice method from lazy repetition and moving the fingers to actual mental work. (Like transposing the gigue and the praembulum from the partita to all twelve major tonalities), using  visualisation techniques while practicing and always attempting to solve problems through a deeper understanding of the work.

The results are amazing... three days later, the pain in my back is practically gone (thanks to the Alexander technique), everything is clearer, the fast parts are fast, the clean parts are clean, everything is much better memorized and clearer and all the realy work has just been in my head, now Im really just using the piano to check how Im doing with the mental practice, the real breakthroughs happen in my room, in my head. The sitting at the piano is just for checking how my work actually sounds.

Im even doing better in improvisation and ear training :)

Its amazing... I was never able to do this before, but quite suddenly it was like a sudden change from one day to the other! One day I looked at the score, and it was just normal. Now I look at the score or think of the music and I can visualize how it sounds, and how to actually play it. Now I do the Brahms excercises she recommended to me as my teacher actually told me to do them, as studies for your mind in coordination and for your inner year, not as stupid finger gymnastics.

:) Galina arrives tommorrow.... I think she will be happy, since Im finally listening to her. The improvement in these past three days has been enormous.

Im a real believer now. You play the piano with your mind and heart and ears. Not with your hands and fingers, or eyes even. I still have problems, but Im confident that with enough time like this they will be solved.
For a good laugh, check out my posts in the audition room, and tell me exactly how terrible they are :)

Offline celticqt

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Re: An amazing breakthrough in my playing and practice.
Reply #1 on: May 07, 2005, 11:04:27 PM
What an encouraging post, Fernandito.  I feel that I am at a low right now in my practice, and I've heard so much about mental practice on this forum . . . .
The results are amazing... three days later, the pain in my back is practically gone (thanks to the Alexander technique), everything is clearer, the fast parts are fast, the clean parts are clean, everything is much better memorized and clearer and all the realy work has just been in my head, now Im really just using the piano to check how Im doing with the mental practice, the real breakthroughs happen in my room, in my head. The sitting at the piano is just for checking how my work actually sounds.
I want this so badly!  I'm almost afraid to try it in case it doesn't work.

What is the Alexander technique?  I've never heard of it.
Beware the barrenness of a busy life. ~Socrates

Offline torchygirl

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Re: An amazing breakthrough in my playing and practice.
Reply #2 on: May 08, 2005, 04:39:36 AM
Yeah Fernandito!  I'm happy for you!

Karen

Offline Dazzer

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Re: An amazing breakthrough in my playing and practice.
Reply #3 on: May 08, 2005, 04:57:17 AM
sounds amazing... i'd like to try it sometime.

Offline Kassaa

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Re: An amazing breakthrough in my playing and practice.
Reply #4 on: May 08, 2005, 05:38:40 AM
edit- don't mind, I see that you live in Mexico.

Offline ahmedito

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Re: An amazing breakthrough in my playing and practice.
Reply #5 on: May 08, 2005, 08:52:39 AM
I am from Mexico, but right now Im living in Madrid, studying at the Reina Sofia.

Do a search for Alexander technique on google. We get one session each week here at the school.
For a good laugh, check out my posts in the audition room, and tell me exactly how terrible they are :)

Offline pianonut

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Re: An amazing breakthrough in my playing and practice.
Reply #6 on: May 08, 2005, 09:15:37 AM
i'm not where you are yet, but am working on it (a lifetime thing for me).  i can hear my music better in my head and though i cannot transpose very well, i can imagine better and pedal better with the tips i get from my teacher too.  it is encouraging when something suddenly becomes easier.
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.
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