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Mental Practice
#1869935 03/28/12 05:09 PM
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Sorry if this has been posted before. I am terrible at using Search.

I hope this question will be clear. I have been doing a lot of mental practice over the last year, and I was just curious to know how you guys used this practice technique.

What do you usually pay attention to? Do you do a lot of visualization, harmonic analysis, etc?

I'm having a lot of trouble just figuring out what to focus on (there is a lot of information in a score...), so any help would be appreciated - thanks!

Re: Mental Practice
Richter #1869939 03/28/12 05:27 PM
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I use mental practice a lot, up to half my practice time probably when added up. I play jazz and pop and don't do a lot of reading, so my mental practice is not related to any score.

I visualize mostly, imagining my hands and finger placement, mostly without thinking about the tones, only the positions of the notes. Sometimes I imagine the sound when I want to practice ear training.


Semi-pro pianist
Tuesdays 5-8 at Vince's West Sacramento, California
Re: Mental Practice
Richter #1869975 03/28/12 07:26 PM
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Great thread. I am a Jazz pianist and classical pianist and am interested in mental practice for both!
Gyorgy Sandor in his book "On piano playing" reccomends imagining as vividly as you can the exact hand/wrist/arm etc. positions whilst hearing the music as you play so to speak. Obviously this takes immense mental strain but he claims it gets easier and easier.

I think it's good to choose specific things as when you practice normally. Simply hearing the music in your head with shifting harmonies is fantastic for musicianship- reading or not reading the score. Personally I think it's best to always hear as you visualise. Would love to hear more on this seldom discussed method.

Re: Mental Practice
Richter #1869999 03/28/12 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Richter
Sorry if this has been posted before. I am terrible at using Search.


I don't mind you posting your question. I know it has been posted before, but it's always nice to see what other people have to say. In regards to "Search", it is generally recommended to use the google search at the top left of the screen instead of the forum search that is in the top menu. The forum's search is indeed frustrating to use.


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
Re: Mental Practice
Richter #1870395 03/29/12 12:15 PM
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A funny thing I've noticed about mental practice is that it would look odd if anyone were to ever to happen to look at me when I'm practicing. Sometimes after practicing for, say, ten minutes, I'll notice that I have been completely motionless and with a blank look on my face, mouth slightly open, for the entire time.


Semi-pro pianist
Tuesdays 5-8 at Vince's West Sacramento, California
Re: Mental Practice
Richter #1870579 03/29/12 04:46 PM
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For me visualizing is the best technique because I am a visual person (but it is not the same for everyone).



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Music is my best friend.


Re: Mental Practice
Richter #1870630 03/29/12 06:35 PM
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I always use mental practice to hear in my head exactly what I want a piece to sound like. Then the next time I actually practice, I try to remember what I thought sounded good and work on voicing and such.


Currently working on (not just messing around with)

Bach Prelude and Fugue in G Major, Well-Tempered Clavier Book I
Mozart Fantasie and Sonata in c minor
Chopin's Revolutionary Etude, Op. 10 No. 12
Liszt's Paraphrase on Rigoletto (sort of)
Prelude of Debussy's Pour le Piano
Re: Mental Practice
ChopinAddict #1870670 03/29/12 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by ChopinAddict
For me visualizing is the best technique because I am a visual person (but it is not the same for everyone).


Oh, I envy you! Do you visualize the score? I just hear the music running through my head when I'm away from the piano, and remember the kinesthetic sense of hand and finger movements.

Well... I can sort of see the score in my mind, but it's vague... for instance might see a left-side page with arpeggios and approximately where they are on the staff; and there are mordents; and at the bottom of the page, a simpler pattern of notes as the theme is restated; but as far as being able to focus in and read it, no way! I would *love* to have photographic memory-- it seems so useful.

Re: Mental Practice
cefinow #1870849 03/30/12 06:59 AM
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Surely Auditory and kinaesthetic memory is more useful imo- after all music isn't a visual art...

Re: Mental Practice
Richter #1871075 03/30/12 03:10 PM
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I've been thinking about this topic and have realized that it is dear to me -- mental practice helps me a lot and I make serious progress through mental practice.

I play jazz and pop music but I use maybe 60 percent of my mental practice time doing exercises in the basic twelve (24 counting both minor and major) keys. I'll do some exercise like moving from the 2nd inversion of the ii triad (minor) chord to the 2nd inversion of the iii (minor) chord with my right hand (mentally) and something simple like one bass note with my left hand. Then I'll either move to the next key via the circle of fifths or by going up or down chromatically, and then do it again.

Mentally I'm usually not 'hearing' the chords, but thinking something like 'da', 'da', with one 'da' for each mentally played chord, or sometimes hearing what you might call placeholder sounds, which aren't accurate and, for the exercise, don't need to be. But sometimes I do focus on the sounds and imagine the proper relative pitches.

The process is tiring and I can feel genuinely exhausted after doing it for a while, but it is also oddly rewarding. I say 'oddly' because sometimes after a sequence becomes natural and easy I feel like physically expressing victory, like a boxer who has won a fight. It's bizarre -- it's not artificial at all and is a completely spontaneous feeling, like 'yeah, I beat you!! You are MINE, you piano!!'.



Semi-pro pianist
Tuesdays 5-8 at Vince's West Sacramento, California

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