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#1787401 - 11/12/11 01:37 AM Technique Building  
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Opus 1 Music Offline
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Thought it might be interesting to see how people begin their daily practice routine. Scales, etudes, sightreading etc. Please post your personal routine!


Justin NCTM

Working on:
Solo program
Grieg Sonata in e minor; Bartok Romanian Dances; Beethoven Sonata in A-flat, Op. 110; Mozart Concerto in d minor, K. 466
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#1787415 - 11/12/11 02:43 AM Re: Technique Building [Re: Opus 1 Music]  
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treelogger Offline
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I don't believe in practicing, but instead in playing. Start with easy stuff to loosen the muscles and joints. Well-tempered piano is fun, and you don't have to repeat yourself for 48 days. The 4-part chorales from Bach Kantatas are even better. I've always hated doing scales, arpeggios, or etudes. Instead of Hanon and Czerny etudes, I preferred to do Chopin and Rachmaninoff etudes.

Look for total accuracy. If necessary, play things at ludicrously slow tempo, one hand at a time, without pedal, but make it sound exactly the way you want it to sound. BTW, this doesn't mean wrong notes (those don't matter, they will get right with time). But a missing crescendo, bad phrasing, pedaling wrong, or a fingering which makes a line sound uneven will never get right, and needs to be stomped out early. Practicing for me means playing something that's very hard (one step over the edge of what you can do), but not being afraid to go over a 4-measure section 30 times in a row, until it is "just right". But also don't forget to do whole sections at a time. You'll never understand where that 4-measure section fits into the big picture, if you haven't played the whole sonata movement 30 times in a row from end to end. If you get tired of the stuff you're supposed to be working on, grab a random piece of music, and play it (either the whole thing for fun, if you already know how, or start ripping it apart and improving it). One thing I find very valuable: Try to determine what exactly the technical difficulty is. Is it fast scales in the left hand while the right hand is playing a melody? Is it rapid movement in the middle fingers while the 1st and 5th have to sing? Whatever it is, find other pieces of music that have the same difficulty, and also play them. This prevents the boredom of dealing only with one piece for days on end.

Do this for many hours per day. I don't know whether it's better to do 4-hour stretches (interrupted only by the need to add water at the top of the body and remove water from the bottom), or do hour-long sessions 4 times a day.

If something is too hard (takes longer than a few days to make serious progress, ideally to get it to perfection), put it away. Play something else, hopefully something that strengthens the same skills. Then return to the original problem a few weeks later. I was always amazed how something I was failing at suddenly has become easy. I call it the "procrastinators lemma": by ignoring a problem, it tends to go away.

When not playing music, listen to music (today with iPods, this is trivial; I was in college when the first Sony Walkman became available for non-outrageous prices). When not being able to listen to music, grab a score and read it like a book, until you understand it like a book. Submerge yourself in music. Learn to play without having to move your fingers.

The obvious danger of that is that it is easy to overdo it. Carpal tunnel problems, psychological fixation, loss of social interaction, monomania.

Last edited by treelogger; 11/12/11 02:45 AM.
#1787420 - 11/12/11 03:22 AM Re: Technique Building [Re: treelogger]  
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Originally Posted by treelogger
I don't know whether it's better to do 4-hour stretches (interrupted only by the need to add water at the top of the body and remove water from the bottom), or do hour-long sessions 4 times a day.


It's the latter, without any shadow of doubt. 4 hour stretches are no better than 2 hour stretches in a productive learning sense.

#1787423 - 11/12/11 03:49 AM Re: Technique Building [Re: Opus 1 Music]  
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wr Offline
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You really asked for it! Here's mine, most days -


Dohnanyi exercise 2 in the major and minor of my "key of the month" (key of E this month)

Dohnanyi 1 in C, plus two more keys

Hanon 21-30 in the major of the key of the month

Scales and arpeggios in the key of the month

Dohnanyi 12

An arpeggio exercise of my own on diminished 7ths and major 7ths.

Dohnanyi 3-8 in the key of the month, major and minor

Dohnanyi 15, 17a, 18, 21, 22, 24, 26, 26a or b, 28, 31, 31a or b, 32


Then I switch from exercises to etudes -

Clementi Gradus ad Parnassum - 1, 3, and part of 15

Moscheles - op. 70, no. 13, and usually at least one more from that set - today it was no. 4

Chopin - op. 10, no. 1

Moszkowski - usually one from op. 72, plus op. 92, no. 2, for left hand alone

Dohnanyi - no. 4 from his Short Etudes

Friedman - Etude 15 from op. 63

Tagliapietra - five or six of his 40 Studies

Persichetti - the first set of 16 etudes from his Reflective Keyboard Studies, op 138


Then I move to "non-technical" stuff...


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#1787541 - 11/12/11 11:30 AM Re: Technique Building [Re: Opus 1 Music]  
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I run through scales, arpeggios, octaves, etc... in the pieces I'm playing to warm up so that I'm used to everything in a "musical context". I can't stand Hanon. I used to have to go through about 1-2 hours of Hanon a day, but now I don't have to anymore (thank goodness).

#1787587 - 11/12/11 01:21 PM Re: Technique Building [Re: wr]  
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sophial Offline
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Originally Posted by wr
You really asked for it! Here's mine, most days -


Dohnanyi exercise 2 in the major and minor of my "key of the month" (key of E this month)

Dohnanyi 1 in C, plus two more keys

Hanon 21-30 in the major of the key of the month

Scales and arpeggios in the key of the month

Dohnanyi 12

An arpeggio exercise of my own on diminished 7ths and major 7ths.

Dohnanyi 3-8 in the key of the month, major and minor

Dohnanyi 15, 17a, 18, 21, 22, 24, 26, 26a or b, 28, 31, 31a or b, 32


Then I switch from exercises to etudes -

Clementi Gradus ad Parnassum - 1, 3, and part of 15

Moscheles - op. 70, no. 13, and usually at least one more from that set - today it was no. 4

Chopin - op. 10, no. 1

Moszkowski - usually one from op. 72, plus op. 92, no. 2, for left hand alone

Dohnanyi - no. 4 from his Short Etudes

Friedman - Etude 15 from op. 63

Tagliapietra - five or six of his 40 Studies

Persichetti - the first set of 16 etudes from his Reflective Keyboard Studies, op 138


Then I move to "non-technical" stuff...



omg-- how many hours a day do you practice??

#1787588 - 11/12/11 01:21 PM Re: Technique Building [Re: PaulaPiano34]  
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BruceD Offline
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Originally Posted by chobeethaninov
I run through scales, arpeggios, octaves, etc... in the pieces I'm playing to warm up so that I'm used to everything in a "musical context". I can't stand Hanon. I used to have to go through about 1-2 hours of Hanon a day, but now I don't have to anymore (thank goodness).


No wonder you can't stand Hanon; anything overdone becomes tedious, if not counter-productive. Why in the world would you "have to" go through one to two hours a day of Hanon? How about ten to fifteen minutes?

Regards,


BruceD
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Estonia 190
#1787594 - 11/12/11 01:26 PM Re: Technique Building [Re: Opus 1 Music]  
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very impressive wr..

i usually run the scales or arpeggios of every key or play an etude. I actually love exercises. the last one in Hanon book 3 is my fave.

i am lucky if i get 90 minutes in and i could practice for 5 hours if i had the time and something engaging to work on.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, ├Ľun (apple in Estonian)
#1787609 - 11/12/11 01:42 PM Re: Technique Building [Re: Opus 1 Music]  
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To be honest, I find that I've developed my technique mostly through playing pieces themselves, rather than finger exercises like Hanon. I'll admit that scales and arpeggios can be important though. I just never do them...I warm up my fingers then I go to the pieces I'm working on.


Working On-

Deux Arabesques, Debussy


On Queue-

Danse Russe from Petroushka, Stravinsky
Toccata, Ravel




#1787653 - 11/12/11 03:16 PM Re: Technique Building [Re: sophial]  
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wr Offline
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Originally Posted by sophial


omg-- how many hours a day do you practice??


You know, I don't actually know - I don't pay much attention to the clock. I think it is usually probably 4-5 hours. And although I usually do go through all that stuff, I am not terribly fanatical about it. And about once a week I skip it all and jump right into repertoire.

#1787656 - 11/12/11 03:23 PM Re: Technique Building [Re: Opus 1 Music]  
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Andromaque Offline
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Are you all retired or married / widowed well?
wr, do you have staff? Where do you find the time? smile

#1787678 - 11/12/11 04:14 PM Re: Technique Building [Re: treelogger]  
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Newman Offline
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Originally Posted by treelogger
I don't believe in practicing, but instead in playing. ...


Ditto


Guitar since 1966. Piano (Kawai DP80) since 2011.
#1787679 - 11/12/11 04:15 PM Re: Technique Building [Re: Andromaque]  
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wr Offline
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Originally Posted by Andromaque
Are you all retired or married / widowed well?
wr, do you have staff? Where do you find the time? smile


Ummm....no comment. But, I will say it is possible to make time for what you really want to do, at least to some degree. And I really want to work on improving my piano playing, mostly to try to make up as much as I can for having practically no technical training as a kid. So, somehow, there's time for it.

#1787727 - 11/12/11 05:37 PM Re: Technique Building [Re: BruceD]  
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by chobeethaninov
I run through scales, arpeggios, octaves, etc... in the pieces I'm playing to warm up so that I'm used to everything in a "musical context". I can't stand Hanon. I used to have to go through about 1-2 hours of Hanon a day, but now I don't have to anymore (thank goodness).


No wonder you can't stand Hanon; anything overdone becomes tedious, if not counter-productive. Why in the world would you "have to" go through one to two hours a day of Hanon? How about ten to fifteen minutes?

Regards,


My teacher made me

#1788043 - 11/13/11 09:57 AM Re: Technique Building [Re: Opus 1 Music]  
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I teach, practice, and perform on roughly 3-6 pianos of differing quality per week. Scales, arpeggios, and exercises involving block chords are much more useful for me in working out the tactile differences between them - not to mention warm-UPS.

If I used real music to figure it out, I wouldn't be too much of a happy camper; I would be picky, and it would take too long.

Last edited by Gerard12; 11/13/11 12:15 PM.

Piano instruction and performance
#1788112 - 11/13/11 12:16 PM Re: Technique Building [Re: Opus 1 Music]  
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NeilOS Offline
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Originally Posted by Opus 1 Music
Thought it might be interesting to see how people begin their daily practice routine. Scales, etudes, sightreading etc. Please post your personal routine!


I use sections in pieces I'm studying as etudes, first working out the problems then gradually working the technical solutions in from very slow to the desired tempo, or as close to the tempo as I can get at that practice session. I don't find it helpful to practice X in order to play Y.

I plan my session with newer and/or more difficult passages at the beginning, when I am freshest. If there is memory work to be done, I do that when I'm fresh, either at the beginning or after a break.


Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/
#1788115 - 11/13/11 12:21 PM Re: Technique Building [Re: BruceD]  
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NeilOS Offline
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by chobeethaninov
I run through scales, arpeggios, octaves, etc... in the pieces I'm playing to warm up so that I'm used to everything in a "musical context". I can't stand Hanon. I used to have to go through about 1-2 hours of Hanon a day, but now I don't have to anymore (thank goodness).


No wonder you can't stand Hanon; anything overdone becomes tedious, if not counter-productive. Why in the world would you "have to" go through one to two hours a day of Hanon? How about ten to fifteen minutes?

Regards,


Or even not at all. Find those shapes in the music you're studying and practice them there.


Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/
#1788204 - 11/13/11 03:18 PM Re: Technique Building [Re: PaulaPiano34]  
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BruceD Offline
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Originally Posted by chobeethaninov
Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by chobeethaninov
I run through scales, arpeggios, octaves, etc... in the pieces I'm playing to warm up so that I'm used to everything in a "musical context". I can't stand Hanon. I used to have to go through about 1-2 hours of Hanon a day, but now I don't have to anymore (thank goodness).


No wonder you can't stand Hanon; anything overdone becomes tedious, if not counter-productive. Why in the world would you "have to" go through one to two hours a day of Hanon? How about ten to fifteen minutes?

Regards,


My teacher made me


Based on this one comment alone, and not having heard any others about this teacher's pedagogy, I would say this is just bad teaching! Who, in his/her right mind, would have a young student work on Hanon one to two hours a day? It's a wonder that cho... didn't end up hating the piano and not just Hanon.

Regards,


BruceD
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Estonia 190
#1788205 - 11/13/11 03:18 PM Re: Technique Building [Re: Opus 1 Music]  
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I have a huge collection of technical exercises (many in pdf format) and usually dedicate my first session to them (and my second session to playing repertoire).
Among my favourite books are Dohnanyi, Pischna, Brahms, and yes, even Czerny and Hanon... blush



[Linked Image]

Music is my best friend.


#1788210 - 11/13/11 03:22 PM Re: Technique Building [Re: Opus 1 Music]  
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When I have time (this is only a recent development) I like to do sightreading to warm up. Lately I've been playing Brahms exercises too. Very soothing and beautiful. But I've noticed the quality of my scales and arpeggios falling off so they're back in rotation. I brought back my old scales warmup routine, which is all majors and minors, 4 octaves, in 8ves, 10ths, 3rds, and 6ths. I need to add double thirds to those as well as chromatic scales.


Pianist and teacher with a 5'8" Baldwin R and Clavi CLP-230 at home.

New website up: http://www.studioplumpiano.com. Also on Twitter @QQitsMina
#1788244 - 11/13/11 04:39 PM Re: Technique Building [Re: Opus 1 Music]  
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This is my 50th annivesary year of not playing any excercises, scales, etc. I just work on the technical problems in whaTever pieces I'm playing.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 11/13/11 04:40 PM.
#1788372 - 11/13/11 08:05 PM Re: Technique Building [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
This is my 50th anniversary year of not playing any exercises, scales, etc. I just work on the technical problems in whatever pieces I'm playing.


Ditto - including the 50th anniversary year! grin


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