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#2081644 - 05/13/13 12:52 AM Re: How impatient . . [Re: wouter79]  
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Originally Posted by wouter79
Originally Posted by JimF
the sad reality is that with almost every new piece there comes a time when my teacher must say to me..."ok, now I want you to go back and just play it very slow and very loud without dynamics and without pedal at least twice a day for a week."


Loud, without dynamics?? But that seems not the right way to me to practice, after all you then will have to unlearn the all-loud version

Not in your fingers -- only in your ears. There is a school of thought that "hammering" the piece into your fingers is the fastest way to get it under them, and that usually requires a louder (or more solid) approach. One must be aware of overkill, making sure not to "bang", because that additional shock can lead to injury. But, generally, it is much easier to learn one thing at a time -- fingering, movements, dynamics; and usually (though not always) in that order.


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
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#2081741 - 05/13/13 07:23 AM Re: How impatient . . [Re: Derulux]  
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Originally Posted by Derulux

Not in your fingers -- only in your ears. There is a school of thought that "hammering" the piece into your fingers is the fastest way to get it under them, and that usually requires a louder (or more solid) approach. One must be aware of overkill, making sure not to "bang", because that additional shock can lead to injury. But, generally, it is much easier to learn one thing at a time -- fingering, movements, dynamics; and usually (though not always) in that order.

Seriously? Wow. That school of thought is new to me. I once saw a clip from some old fashioned or other-country school room, where all the kids were shouting out what they had to memorize (times tables? spelling?). Is it that kind of thing? I've heard the expression "Hammer it into your brain." but I didn't think of this almost literal kind of hammering.

Last edited by keystring; 05/13/13 07:24 AM.
#2081747 - 05/13/13 07:48 AM Re: How impatient . . [Re: Derulux]  
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Originally Posted by Derulux
Not in your fingers -- only in your ears. There is a school of thought that "hammering" the piece into your fingers is the fastest way to get it under them, and that usually requires a louder (or more solid) approach. One must be aware of overkill, making sure not to "bang", because that additional shock can lead to injury. But, generally, it is much easier to learn one thing at a time -- fingering, movements, dynamics; and usually (though not always) in that order.


I'm pretty sure my teacher wouldn't recommend that. What she has recommended, frequently, is mixing it all up. Play fff. Now play ppp. Now "swing" it (or play dotted 8th, 16th - dotted 8th, 16th); reverse "swing"; play an octave higher, play an octave lower, play right hand down an octave and left up (usually means overlapping the arms); play staccato; play very legato. You get the idea.

Last edited by Andy Platt; 05/13/13 08:24 AM.

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#2081751 - 05/13/13 07:58 AM Re: How impatient . . [Re: Andy Platt]  
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Originally Posted by Andy Platt

I'm pretty sure my teacher wouldn't recommend that. What she has recommended, frequently, is mixing it all up. Play fff. Now play ppp. Now "swing" it (or play dotted 8th, 16th - dotted 8th, 16th); reverse "swing"; play an octave higher, play an octave lower, play right hand down and octave and left up (usually means overlapping the arms); play staccato; play very legato. You get the idea.


Flashback. My first violin recital (adult student), rehearsal with accompanist (also first ever). Like most, she was also a teacher. There was a passage I'd had problems with forever and got hung up on it during the rehearsal. She suggest that I play it in different rhythms. I thought this was nuts, because if I can't play it in simple regular notes, how could I possibly play it in rhythms. But I tried it, and it worked. I still don't understand why.

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#2081753 - 05/13/13 07:59 AM Re: How impatient . . [Re: Andy Platt]  
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Originally Posted by Andy Platt
Originally Posted by Derulux
Not in your fingers -- only in your ears. There is a school of thought that "hammering" the piece into your fingers is the fastest way to get it under them, and that usually requires a louder (or more solid) approach. One must be aware of overkill, making sure not to "bang", because that additional shock can lead to injury. But, generally, it is much easier to learn one thing at a time -- fingering, movements, dynamics; and usually (though not always) in that order.


I'm pretty sure my teacher wouldn't recommend that. What she has recommended, frequently, is mixing it all up. Play fff. Now play ppp. Now "swing" it (or play dotted 8th, 16th - dotted 8th, 16th); reverse "swing"; play an octave higher, play an octave lower, play right hand down and octave and left up (usually means overlapping the arms); play staccato; play very legato. You get the idea.
This is what I was thinking as well. If a student has a habit of playing extremely softly, however, a teacher might recommend they play everything comfortably loud to learn it.


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#2081756 - 05/13/13 08:07 AM Re: How impatient . . [Re: Derulux]  
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Originally Posted by Derulux
But, generally, it is much easier to learn one thing at a time -- fingering, movements, dynamics; and usually (though not always) in that order.



Yes. Anything other than mono-tasking is counter-productive. Commit one process to auto-pilot before moving onto the next.

#2081892 - 05/13/13 12:47 PM Re: How impatient . . [Re: keystring]  
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Derulux

Not in your fingers -- only in your ears. There is a school of thought that "hammering" the piece into your fingers is the fastest way to get it under them, and that usually requires a louder (or more solid) approach. One must be aware of overkill, making sure not to "bang", because that additional shock can lead to injury. But, generally, it is much easier to learn one thing at a time -- fingering, movements, dynamics; and usually (though not always) in that order.

Seriously? Wow. That school of thought is new to me. I once saw a clip from some old fashioned or other-country school room, where all the kids were shouting out what they had to memorize (times tables? spelling?). Is it that kind of thing? I've heard the expression "Hammer it into your brain." but I didn't think of this almost literal kind of hammering.

Yeah, it's one of those "fine line" deals. I believe the idea is something like this: when you try to learn something softly, most people hesitate in their movements, but when you play louder, you don't have a choice but to not hesitate. However, like I said, I think if you were to take it too far (and think literally of hammering, banging, or pounding) that you would probably lead yourself down a road towards repetitive stress injury.

Originally Posted by Andy Platt
I'm pretty sure my teacher wouldn't recommend that. What she has recommended, frequently, is mixing it all up. Play fff. Now play ppp. Now "swing" it (or play dotted 8th, 16th - dotted 8th, 16th); reverse "swing"; play an octave higher, play an octave lower, play right hand down an octave and left up (usually means overlapping the arms); play staccato; play very legato. You get the idea.

It's quite possible. I don't particularly subscribe to "banging" as a method, either. However, I also believe there are better methods to get versatility trained into your fingers than practicing a passage incorrectly. I realize there is a significant percentage of teachers that believe in this methodology, but I've always disagreed with it. If the intent is to find some new musical expression by overdoing certain musical stresses in the passage, then absolutely -- that's how you do it. But if the intent is simply to learn the notes, I would focus on learning them correctly.

If you've ever seen the movie "Tin Cup," you'll probably understand this analogy: Kevin Costner's character gets the "shanks" and can't find his swing. He works on it for days, but can't fix it. In order to correct it, his caddie tells him to turn his hat around, untuck his pants, put his change in the other pocket, put his golf glove on his other hand, etc. Costner stops thinking about the swing and hits the ball beautifully.

Now, one idea is to do all of those ridiculous things to get your head out of the way so you can find the swing again (assuming, of course, that you had a swing in the first place). Another idea is to understand that the "shanks" is usually a result of a swing tempo that is just a little too fast. When you compensate for that, you don't have to do all the other stuff to get back to "normal".

So, when I attack a problem, whether it's piano or not, I attack it in the most direct manner, rather than circumventing it and taking the longest possible winding route to get there. If you know exactly what motions cause a missed note, or an uneven rhythm, etc., then you don't have to do all the other stuff to try and arrive at the solution by intuition. You can simply correct the incorrect motion. wink


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#2081930 - 05/13/13 01:54 PM Re: How impatient . . [Re: keystring]  
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Andy Platt

I'm pretty sure my teacher wouldn't recommend that. What she has recommended, frequently, is mixing it all up. Play fff. Now play ppp. Now "swing" it (or play dotted 8th, 16th - dotted 8th, 16th); reverse "swing"; play an octave higher, play an octave lower, play right hand down and octave and left up (usually means overlapping the arms); play staccato; play very legato. You get the idea.

Flashback. My first violin recital (adult student), rehearsal with accompanist (also first ever). Like most, she was also a teacher. There was a passage I'd had problems with forever and got hung up on it during the rehearsal. She suggest that I play it in different rhythms. I thought this was nuts, because if I can't play it in simple regular notes, how could I possibly play it in rhythms. But I tried it, and it worked. I still don't understand why.

I think practicing in rhythms works because it permits some periods of longs notes, where you can think for a bit (even if it's not a very looooooong long note), and then you whip through a short note, and then you have a long note again to think. So you get time to think periodically, and you learn how to play half of the notes fast (the short notes in a long-short rhythm) fast. Then you reverse it and play short-long, and learn how to play the other half of the notes fast, while giving yourself again time to think on the new long notes. It's like you're bracing yourself to play just two notes at a time, over and over through the piece.

Anyway, that's what it feels like to me when I'm practicing in rhythms. I do find rhythms helpful. Another thing I find them helpful for is: do I really know the notes? Or do I just know some featureless mush which is TheWholePieceAllAtOnce without really knowing the parts of the piece and without being able to maniuplate them at will.

Once I have the basic notes and dynamics down initially, I like practicing in varied ways because it makes me feel flexibility with a piece, and more power of the choices I may ultimately make for it. I suppose this may conflict with the idea that I should have a piece learned exactly one way so that when I approach, say, a soft section, everything in me by Pavlovian reflex and automatic pilot goes "sssh! soft", but I feel like I get more understanding of a piece by practicing it in varied ways.


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#2081956 - 05/13/13 03:15 PM Re: How impatient . . [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88

I think practicing in rhythms works because it permits some periods of longs notes, where you can think for a bit (even if it's not a very looooooong long note), and then you whip through a short note, and then you have a long note again to think.

This was a physical motion thing where the the body would get stuck or hung up in a motion. Thinking wasn't part of it, but since rhythm is motion, maybe that's what got altered. I wonder if there's an equivalent in sports.

#2082412 - 05/14/13 11:46 AM Re: How impatient . . [Re: peterws]  
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I am enjoying this thread. I am VERY impatient. I want to be able to play piano in the worst way.....have wanted this for years. I bought a Clavinova a month ago and started lessons (I have had 3 lessons so far). When I got the piano, the woman who owned the store gave me the book we'd be using and a 10 minute mini lesson. When I returned the following week, I could play everything in the book. So she skipped the other two level one books and gave me a level two book. Same thing the following week....I showed up at the lesson and could play the book. So she's dropped those books all together and gave me something more challanging. Now the material is much harder and I am making slower progress which frustrates me but I enjoy a good challange and am very determined to get this. I have learned a simplified version of 12th Street Rag and the first part of Fur Elise on my own. So now I am really working hard on polishing things, timing, pedaling, etc. And I am really trying hard to learn to read this music more quickly and move on to more complicated stuff. I keep having to remind myself it's only been a month. And I really have to get over stage fright because I can't play a thing if someone is watching me.


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#2082416 - 05/14/13 11:54 AM Re: How impatient . . [Re: carolinagirl]  
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Originally Posted by carolinagirl
So she's dropped those books all together and gave me something more challanging. Now the material is much harder and I am making slower progress which frustrates me but I enjoy a good challange and am very determined to get this. I have learned a simplified version of 12th Street Rag and the first part of Fur Elise on my own. So now I am really working hard on polishing things, timing, pedaling, etc. And I am really trying hard to learn to read this music more quickly and move on to more complicated stuff. I keep having to remind myself it's only been a month. And I really have to get over stage fright because I can't play a thing if someone is watching me.


Just be careful. Fur Elise, for example: First part is relatively easy. OK, got to make sure the arpeggios are phrased nicely and you want some nice shaping of the main motive. But then things get hard quickly. Now, I'm not going to say you can't pull it off because there are people on here who have played a Chopin Ballade when they have no business doing so.

Personally, I would have started with easier repertoire that is still beyond the first method books. Things like some of Bach's Anna Magdalena notebook for example. But see how you do ... you can always say, "nope, not yet" and move to easier pieces. I've done that a ton of times.


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#2082421 - 05/14/13 12:04 PM Re: How impatient . . [Re: Andy Platt]  
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I was looking at the sheet music for the entire Fur Elise last night and decided it was too advanced for me at this point. The first part is pretty easy and very beautiful. I will look into Bach's Anna Magdalena notebook. While I do want a challange, I don't want one that's so challanging that it will discourage me.


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#2082964 - 05/15/13 08:16 AM Re: How impatient . . [Re: peterws]  
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#2082977 - 05/15/13 08:37 AM Re: How impatient . . [Re: peterws]  
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Anyway, I am more impatient than any of you grin

I forced myself to work slowly and carefully on just two pieces (Grieg's and the next ABF recital's) and I managed to do that for two weeks. Then in the last few days I think I tried out at least ten different things of all sorts!


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#2082987 - 05/15/13 08:46 AM Re: How impatient . . [Re: carolinagirl]  
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Originally Posted by carolinagirl
I was looking at the sheet music for the entire Fur Elise last night and decided it was too advanced for me at this point. The first part is pretty easy and very beautiful. I will look into Bach's Anna Magdalena notebook. While I do want a challange, I don't want one that's so challanging that it will discourage me.
That is kind of what I was thinking when I read about what you were doing in another post, but often it's best that you come to that conclusion on your own. The first part is easy, as are many difficult pieces, they lull you into thinking you can tackle them until you get to the meaty stuff. However, you can still enjoy playing the beginning for others, since that is the most recognizable. Most people don't even know there's more to it. wink As you improve, you can always revisit this piece, it can act as a "baseline" for you to determine how you are progressing as a pianist. Not a bad thing, either.


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