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How to learn(and practice) faster?
#1697646 06/18/11 07:27 PM
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I know that the only way to get faster is to practice smart. I am still working on that. I need to learn my music a lot faster and I also need to master it faster. I know you can't rush the process but I move at a turtles pace right now. I need to learn 8 pieces at around ABSRM grade 8-8+. I also need to relearn my concerto in a two-week time frame. I don't want to practice around the clock because it's summer and I have other fun and not so fun things to do. Here is what I am doing to try to get faster: Please give me any suggestions!

1. Learning 1 major and minor scale from the Brown Scale Book each week.
2. Sight reading at an early intermediate level daily- at least 2 pieces. I am going to increase difficulty with time.


Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
ilikepiano #1697648 06/18/11 07:29 PM
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Would it help to set time limits so I don't dawdle? I have never really been one to sit at the piano for more than 10 minutes at a time. Would it help to practice for around 45 minutes or so at a time multiple times a day?

Ideally in the fall I need to be able to get everything done in 2-3 hours. Some nights I won't even have 1 hour due to school work. I have to work faster!

Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
ilikepiano #1697649 06/18/11 07:33 PM
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I think you have answered your own question when you said "...I know you can't rush the process..." There is no short-cut, no quick way to learning except to make good use of your practice time. Don't "play through" your pieces; work on the sections that are difficult or are in need of work.

When you say you need to "relearn [your] concerto" there is no way that we can know how well you learned it to begin with. If you learned it well, then a few concentrated run-throughs might help remind you of all you need to know; if you didn't learn it well or if you have forgotten much of it, how are we to know how long it will take you to get it back? These factors are dependent upon many variables, most of which only you know.

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Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
BruceD #1697654 06/18/11 07:44 PM
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very true- I'm going with the second option on the concerto topic...

It's just that my teachers top students practice for around 2-4 hours a day and learn whole concertos in two weeks and I am scrambling to learn 3-4 pages of music in a 6 month time period.

Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
ilikepiano #1697655 06/18/11 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by ponysonata
very true- I'm going with the second option on the concerto topic...

It's just that my teachers top students practice for around 2-4 hours a day and learn whole concertos in two weeks and I am scrambling to learn 3-4 pages of music in a 6 month time period.


The latent fallacy in your observation is the assumption that we all can/should learn at the same pace; we don't, and comparing your learning curve with that of someone else proves nothing except how long it takes you to learn something and how long it takes someone else to learn something.

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Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
BruceD #1697669 06/18/11 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by ponysonata
very true- I'm going with the second option on the concerto topic...

It's just that my teachers top students practice for around 2-4 hours a day and learn whole concertos in two weeks and I am scrambling to learn 3-4 pages of music in a 6 month time period.


The latent fallacy in your observation is the assumption that we all can/should learn at the same pace; we don't, and comparing your learning curve with that of someone else proves nothing except how long it takes you to learn something and how long it takes someone else to learn something.

Regards,

Another point, though: Are you giving an accurate description of your learning curve compared to that of others? Or are you exaggerating just to make your point?

I am amazed that anybody could learn an entire concerto in two weeks with 2-4 hours of daily practice. I'm just as amazed that it could take you 6 months to learn 3-4 pages of music.

Granted, those seem to be very opposite ends of a learning spectrum -- but it would be helpful to know if that's really accurate or not.

Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
chercherchopin #1697677 06/18/11 08:05 PM
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Tis true I'm afraid. My "rival" learned Ravel's concerto in G in 2 weeks and competed with it. It took me a whole year to learn Saint Saens 2nd. The other pianist has been playing for 10 years and this is her 5th concerto though so it's not really fair to compare us as I have been playing for 3 years. I have grown the most in the past year. Last fall it did take me 6 months to learn 3-4 pages of music. This week I learned 12 pages in 5 days for a concert. Granted I was practicing and rehearsing with the strings from literally 9-5(with two 15 minute breaks) and am now exhausted. So now I know I can learn faster but I don't have 8 hours out of the day due to summer school. I am not stretching the story here. I need to get faster if I have any chance at beating out my "rival" this year for the concerto competitions.

Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
ilikepiano #1697693 06/18/11 08:45 PM
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I'm a completely confused. You say you are just now learning major and minor scales and practice only 10 minutes at a time; you are sightreading intermediate level and playing level 8; it took you 6 months to learn 4 pages. Yet you learned the Saint Saens concerto???? Are you pulling our collective legs?

Exactly what music are you working on?


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
ilikepiano #1697723 06/18/11 09:46 PM
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many ways.

Organize your practice.
Have a timer
Work on weak spots
Record yourself
Practice at a level that is challenging but not impossible.
For technique, be very attentive. And you can spread that out a few times a day rather than 2 hours in a row.
Listen to recordings.
Good organized teacher. Really it is worth paying the price.
THere are so many small components that need to come together and you need someone that knows what you need so that all these things can come together.

When you are starting out, mastering a piece , forget it. Get it good enough, move on. Too many people get stuck on one exercise or piece and your b rain is just not being fed new information. You need to keep your mind active, challenged and at the point that you are just about to loose it! lol

Most people learn at such slow levels because they are not focuses.

Last edited by BadOrange; 06/18/11 09:48 PM.
Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
ilikepiano #1697746 06/18/11 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by BadOrange
many ways.

Organize your practice.
Have a timer
Work on weak spots
Record yourself
Practice at a level that is challenging but not impossible.
For technique, be very attentive. And you can spread that out a few times a day rather than 2 hours in a row.
Listen to recordings.
Good organized teacher. Really it is worth paying the price.
THere are so many small components that need to come together and you need someone that knows what you need so that all these things can come together.

Okey, so far so good.

Quote
When you are starting out, mastering a piece , forget it. Get it good enough, move on. Too many people get stuck on one exercise or piece and your b rain is just not being fed new information. You need to keep your mind active, challenged and at the point that you are just about to loose it! lol

Not so sure about that. Maybe if you explain further what you mean?

I'm having the most problem with 'Get it good enough, move on' -- because it's just not good advice for everybody, including, probably, the original poster here ... unless I totally misunderstand what you're getting at.

Originally Posted by ponysonata
Would it help to set time limits so I don't dawdle? I have never really been one to sit at the piano for more than 10 minutes at a time. Would it help to practice for around 45 minutes or so at a time multiple times a day?

Ideally in the fall I need to be able to get everything done in 2-3 hours. Some nights I won't even have 1 hour due to school work. I have to work faster!

You are already at a big disadvantage compared to your peers who have been playing for years longer than you. Of course you should be able to set at the piano for longer than 10 minutes at a time! When people get totally involved, 'in the groove', immersed, in what they're doing, an hour can fly by before you know it.

But 10 minutes at a time? In advance I'll say I mean no offense at all by this, but that would indicate to me that either you're not really into it or that you have some problems directing your focus/concentration/attention.

I don't want to discourage you and I won't draw conclusions about what these factors mean for your musical goals -- but I do think that you have some obstacles that may be very difficult to overcome ... and solutions might be beyond what anyone reading this can advise for you in your frustrationg situation.

Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
ilikepiano #1697764 06/18/11 10:41 PM
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the reason I say when starting out move on is that you should look at learning as sort of exercise. You want to have your heart rate at a desired level. Now at the beginning, mastering a piece, I think there is just too much time taken to really accomplish this task. I think you should set a deadline, and then move on. Practicing the same piece for a year when you are starting out in my opinion is quite counter productive given that there are more important things you could be doing.

that is all.

And this is specific to beginners. And mastering, i mean mastering which given the skill set of a beginner could take years. The goal to learning quick is just to learn at a quick pace and and they is always being in that target zone regarding difficulty and the amount of information you are learning. Same reason why it is not a good practice to learn pieces that are too hard. Like lifting weights at a gym that are too heavy. You will just end up hurting yourself.

Also, you should understand that as a beginner , what you are learning is typically not even in the realm of mastering pieces yet. So it is not only a waste of time but something that in my opinion just not right for the given level.

I'm not saying play shitty and forget about it. Get it as good as you can in the time frame allotted and then move on. Quantity over quality, when you start, except regarding technique , is favourable as you are immersed with more music, and you just learn more.

The polish and mastering will come later. Again this is if you want to learn fast in the long term. If you want to play a piece really well in 6 months, then this is another goal with different ways to do it. My advice was regarding how to learn an instrument and learn it quick.

Last edited by BadOrange; 06/18/11 10:48 PM.
Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
ilikepiano #1697773 06/18/11 10:49 PM
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What do you mean by 'when starting out'? You used that phrase twice, and I don't follow your meaning.

Starting out in the study of piano? starting out in the process of learning a new piece?

Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
ilikepiano #1697780 06/18/11 10:55 PM
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study of piano. My advice was more general in how to learn the piano quick. Perhaps my time frame is way off in regards to the OP.

the post that stuck out was the 2-3 pages in 6 months bit. There is obviously something not quite right there.

Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
gooddog #1697817 06/18/11 11:36 PM
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My teacher(like any good teacher) taught me scales. When we started getting busy with competitions we didn't have time to go through a bunch of scales every lesson. So basically once she stopped checking if I was playing them I forgot about them. So I devised a schedule for the summer in which I will learn one major and minor scale each week starting every Sunday. I am also going to maintain all of these scales.

Perhaps I am leaving too much to the imination: I practice for 10 mintute stints, get up and leave, come back in about two minutes and this process goes on all day. So basically I just can't sit and focus that long so I take short breaks. This same situation plays out on school nights but it is not effective because I only have about 1-3 hours of free time.

Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
gooddog #1697826 06/18/11 11:41 PM
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My teacher has always given me very challenging pieces because I started at such a late age. Every piece(with 4-5 exceptions) that I learned after getting through the "baby books" has been played in a competition. Usually they are so difficult at first that I have a hard time even reading them... So that is why it takes so long. Now that I am more advanced, I can read more easily.

After 1 year and a half of playing 1 learned the 1st movement of mozart's 20th and competed with it twice. I got that piece in November of 2009. Last spring I was given the 1st movement of Saint-Saens 2nd. For the record, I have spent countless hours on both of these. I had to compete with both so they had to be perfect. I spend way more than 10 minutes a day at the piano.

Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
ilikepiano #1697827 06/18/11 11:41 PM
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seems a tad early to be doing competitions if you are still learning scales but I suppose any exposure to criticism is a good learning experience. Just don't take it too seriously!

I actually never had a teacher until I was forced to have one at university. I had played violin from a really young age at a rather high level and the approach to teaching , well i just applied it to piano.

Bought a ton of books. Really made sure my posture placement and body was aligned. I had a few lessons at the beginning as my brother and sister played but i always felt I learnt quicker on my own.

I actually lied on my application regarding my teachers and forged the letter of recommendation. Quite funny considering the school.

Last edited by BadOrange; 06/18/11 11:46 PM.
Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
ilikepiano #1697830 06/18/11 11:45 PM
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1 year after I first started playing I competed and won. I don't think I was clear on the level of mastry that I need to have with my pieces. They have to be perfect both musically and technically. Since my 2nd year of competitions, I have competed 5 times a year. So I DO PRACTICE! A lot! The problem is that I am so slow and it takes me forever to get my music competition ready. Now that I have given a decent but not totally complete history of my time as a student pianist lets move on to what needs to happen this year...

Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
ilikepiano #1697832 06/18/11 11:48 PM
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that is great. that sort of training is invaluable. That is the one thing i never had, the competition aspect and I think that is why i never really felt comfortable performing in public and pursued composition after my bachelors. For my jury, I had a beer before and one at intermission.

I do think tho that sometimes, focusing too much on short term goals makes you loose sight of the the long term ones. You have to keep those in mind!

Last edited by BadOrange; 06/18/11 11:49 PM.
Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
BadOrange #1697833 06/18/11 11:50 PM
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I take competitions very seriously and so does my teacher. I have to have a perfect record to get into the college of my choice on scholarship.

This year I have a state honors recital in the fall. Then concerto competition 1 months later. Then another one, and then 3 piano competitions for solo piano rep. If I win the 2nd competition(which I have too) I will play with local symphony orcehstra.

Let's get back to the main question. What can I do to get faster? Would it be helpful to set time limits? My main problem is focus and getting in the zone. I really need to have a great year competition wise to get into the college of my choice smile

Re: How to learn(and practice) faster?
ilikepiano #1697839 06/19/11 12:00 AM
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The problem is that much of what makes you learn pieces faster is not really the process of learning pieces.

for example, being proficient at harmony will speed up your recognition of patterns as you will see and understand the underlying harmony.

Sight reading, again I I think this is self explanatory but sight reading, to do it well really encompasses knowing harmony , knowing form, and also the ability to process large chunks of information and seeing patterns.

Your approach by just focusing on competitions might take away time to learn tasks that might not seem important but will be crucial in the long run.

I think you need to increase your 10 minute window. Set a list of tasks. Practice them in a productive manner for a given time. Record yourself, listen to recordings and compare.

What college you applying to ? I think you might be placing too much emphasis on competitions and their impact regarding how they select and who they select for scholarship.

Last edited by BadOrange; 06/19/11 12:03 AM.
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