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#2268489 - 04/29/14 03:19 AM Playing through the mistake  
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I find that while I'm practicing sight reading, I can generally ignore a mistake and continue playing.

However, when I'm playing memorized pieces, I'm not able to play through the mistake. I always tend to stop playing and repeat the particular measure or section the moment I make a mistake. Any tips on how to play through the mistake?

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#2268498 - 04/29/14 03:50 AM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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set the metronome at a speed you find comfortable and just say at beginning I am going to play through. The metronome gives the instinctive beat which almost requires no stopping and the trick of just saying I am not going to stop focus's your concentration.

When we practice and make a mistake it's natural we stop and correct the mistake. Before long I find myself in a bit of spiral, just repeating sections over and over. But at some point we have to disengage from that mindset and play as we would perform.


Problems with piano are 90% psychological, the other 10% is in your head.

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#2268505 - 04/29/14 04:19 AM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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Play before an audience, preferable one which isn`t listening. Like at a church, or restaurant. Great places to learn! Keep smiling, whatever you sound like . . . grin and it wont matter!


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#2268537 - 04/29/14 07:39 AM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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The metronome is a good aid for this, but you can also do it mentally. It's a switch from practice mode to performance mode (even if you're not actually performing at that moment). You can think of the piece as continuing on to the end once you start it, whether you play all the notes or not. If you miss something, pick up on the next beat, or whenever you're able. This is also good practice for keeping an internal pulse going.


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#2268548 - 04/29/14 08:15 AM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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The problem is, when I make a mistake, it takes me a moment to find my way back. In this delay, I lose the timing and start fumbling. I guess I need to concentrate more.

I'll try it with the metronome, but then wouldn't I start depending on it?

#2268595 - 04/29/14 09:48 AM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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There are two parts to this, getting to note perfect, and practicing play throughs. It is important to separate learning the piece, the segment practice, from play through practice, or performance practice.

If a person is still making multiple mistakes most of the time, spend the majority of time on segment practice to minimize and eventually eliminate the note mistakes. Slow way down. Focus on the measures where the mistakes tend to happen, but do the entire piece in segments. Do each segment slowly, repeating three to five times. If a mistake occurs, start the count over. Include the first note from the next segment so the transitions don't become sticking points. Then move to the next segment.

By practicing with mistakes, pausing, going back, the mistakes are being reinforced. Make a mental shift and decide not to do that, to just keep going. Force yourself. You can make a decision. If a pause is necessary do that, but don't go back and fix it. If it means playing much slower do that. Try not to practice the mistakes, this is a bad habit and increases the chance of mistakes during performances.

Spend only maybe 20% of time doing play throughs until they are coming through mostly note perfect. Only then is the piece getting close to performance ready. Until then, spend the bulk of the time on segment practice, at slower tempo, slow enough that mistakes are rare. A beginner still tends to sound like a beginner, but aim for note perfect. Mistakes may still happen during a live performance, because nerves take their toll.

Last edited by Sand Tiger; 04/29/14 10:15 AM.
#2268602 - 04/29/14 10:04 AM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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Oops, posted in the wrong thread!

Last edited by Andy Platt; 04/29/14 12:35 PM.

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#2268604 - 04/29/14 10:34 AM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: Sand Tiger]  
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Originally Posted by Sand Tiger
There are two parts to this, getting to note perfect, and practicing play throughs. It is important to separate learning the piece, the segment practice, from play through practice, or performance practice.

If a person is still making multiple mistakes most of the time, spend the majority of time on segment practice to minimize and eventually eliminate the note mistakes. Slow way down. Focus on the measures where the mistakes tend to happen, but do the entire piece in segments. Do each segment slowly, repeating three to five times. If a mistake occurs, start the count over. Include the first note from the next segment so the transitions don't become sticking points. Then move to the next segment.
Yes, I need to do this more. I tend to keep playing a piece from beginning to end once I learn it.

Originally Posted by Sand Tiger

Spend only maybe 20% of time doing play throughs until they are coming through mostly note perfect. Only then is the piece getting close to performance ready. Until then, spend the bulk of the time on segment practice, at slower tempo, slow enough that mistakes are rare. A beginner still tends to sound like a beginner, but aim for note perfect. Mistakes may still happen during a live performance, because nerves take their toll.
The thing is, I don't make mistakes very frequently. It's quite occasional, but when it occurs, it's kind of a big blow and really hard to recover.

Thanks for the tips. I'll make it a point to do segmented practice from now.

#2268700 - 04/29/14 02:14 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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Whenever I make a mistake, it messes up my concentration just a tiny bit. I always force myself to keep playing through it no matter what as not to get conditioned to stopping whenever I hit a wrong note. [Very dangerous thing to do by the way]. As a result, I've noticed that whenever I make a mistake, I instantly try extra hard to play the next section as articulate and expressive as I possibly can. I do this because the immediate extra attention and effort I give seems to instantly wipe away the mistake I just made in my mind. I don't think of it anymore since I am now much more focused.

This method doesn't do anything to prevent mistakes, but it helps me concentrate and get back on track after making them.


#2268709 - 04/29/14 02:31 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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I'm with S-H here. It's not perfection that counts, it's recovery smile It's a life lesson -

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#2268712 - 04/29/14 02:35 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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Oh, and what helps me keep going is to be "singing along" in my head. Then the rest of me has to keep up with that, and it doesn't stop for mistakes. I play for dancers, and today I played for some singing along, so sometimes I even drop out one hand or the other until I can get back in.

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#2268727 - 04/29/14 03:10 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: mr_super-hunky]  
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Originally Posted by Mr Super-Hunky
Whenever I make a mistake, it messes up my concentration just a tiny bit. I always force myself to keep playing through it no matter what as not to get conditioned to stopping whenever I hit a wrong note. [Very dangerous thing to do by the way]. As a result, I've noticed that whenever I make a mistake, I instantly try extra hard to play the next section as articulate and expressive as I possibly can. I do this because the immediate extra attention and effort I give seems to instantly wipe away the mistake I just made in my mind. I don't think of it anymore since I am now much more focused.

This method doesn't do anything to prevent mistakes, but it helps me concentrate and get back on track after making them.


Quite the contrary, this method would not only help preventing mistakes, it would even help anticipating them and I think, with enough practice, avoid them altogether. Thanks a lot! grin

#2268731 - 04/29/14 03:21 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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I think what you describe is a sign that you haven't completely memorized a piece. To play through mistakes successfully for a memorized piece, you'll need to be really prepared. If a lot of the memorization is based on muscle memory instead of real memory, then when a mistake happens, you do have to go back to the beginning of the muscle memory event because muscle memory generally is all or nothing. Real memory can rescue you from any measure or even from the middle of a measure or from note to note (depending on how prepared you are). Not saying this level of memory is easy at all, but for publically performed piece, leaving to muscle memory alone is too risky.

Play a piece in your head away from the piano. Focus on both hands. How much of it can you clearly remember? This tells you how much of it is muscle memory vs real memory. For some of my music, I don't even know which note they begin on away from the piano. Not everything needs to be learn to this level, obviously, but the ones that count should.

#2268735 - 04/29/14 03:29 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: jotur]  
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Originally Posted by jotur
I'm with S-H here. It's not perfection that counts, it's recovery smile It's a life lesson -

Cathy


+1. Totally. How you recover too seem to get better with time. Recently on a piece the last note coda I played a G instead of the A with such confidence but it sounded really bad in harmony with the right hand, so I quickly did a turn on the G to get back to A, and both my teacher and I busted out laughing.

Originally Posted by jotur
Oh, and what helps me keep going is to be "singing along" in my head.


Or just sing along out loud. Works for Glenn Gould... laugh

#2268736 - 04/29/14 03:32 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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#2268833 - 04/29/14 08:21 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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Originally Posted by noobpianist90
]The thing is, I don't make mistakes very frequently. It's quite occasional, but when it occurs, it's kind of a big blow and really hard to recover.



Maybe this is your problem. You need to make more mistakes smile.


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#2268874 - 04/29/14 09:34 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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Yes, mistakes are distracting!

Try to differentiate between "work" practice and "play-through." Be intolerant of mistakes during work, and work in repeated sections (or even backwards) to minimize the temptation to play-stop-replay-once. Get things right more times than you get them wrong, or many more times if you want to prevent future recurrence of the problem.

During play-through, if something happens, just keep going. Go straight on to the next note if you can. If not possible then skip straight ahead to the next measure or even the next section. When you first start doing this it will take a while to recover but if you do it often then you will start thinking of certain designated "jump to" spots. Skipping ahead is much more advantageous during performance than skipping back and having to go through the botched section again.

Above all, eliminate play-stop-replay-once from your practice regimen, it doesn't do much good. I warn all my students away from that one.

Last edited by hreichgott; 04/29/14 09:35 PM.

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#2268904 - 04/29/14 10:30 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: jdw]  
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Agree. Time to learn something harder. If mistakes are infrequent, then whatever you're working on is obviously too easy.

#2268913 - 04/29/14 10:44 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: hreichgott]  
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Originally Posted by hreichgott

Above all, eliminate play-stop-replay-once from your practice regimen, it doesn't do much good. I warn all my students away from that one.


Could you clarify that further please.


Problems with piano are 90% psychological, the other 10% is in your head.

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#2268916 - 04/29/14 10:50 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: jdw]  
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Originally Posted by jdw
Maybe this is your problem. You need to make more mistakes smile.
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#2268917 - 04/29/14 10:51 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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Originally Posted by Eight Octaves
I think what you describe is a sign that you haven't completely memorized a piece. To play through mistakes successfully for a memorized piece, you'll need to be really prepared. If a lot of the memorization is based on muscle memory instead of real memory, then when a mistake happens, you do have to go back to the beginning of the muscle memory event because muscle memory generally is all or nothing.

A good observation. I guess my dependence on hand memory is the main issue.

Originally Posted by Eight Octaves
Real memory can rescue you from any measure or even from the middle of a measure or from note to note (depending on how prepared you are). Not saying this level of memory is easy at all, but for publically performed piece, leaving to muscle memory alone is too risky.

How would you define "real" memory? Do you mean memory of the keyboard, which notes to play or memory of the music or memory of the notation itself?

Originally Posted by Eight Octaves

Play a piece in your head away from the piano. Focus on both hands. How much of it can you clearly remember? This tells you how much of it is muscle memory vs real memory. For some of my music, I don't even know which note they begin on away from the piano. Not everything needs to be learn to this level, obviously, but the ones that count should.

I do this often while I'm travelling to and from work. I can usually remember a section at a time if I really concentrate. Again, please clarify what is real memory.

#2268918 - 04/29/14 10:55 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: hreichgott]  
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
Yes, mistakes are distracting!

Try to differentiate between "work" practice and "play-through." Be intolerant of mistakes during work, and work in repeated sections (or even backwards) to minimize the temptation to play-stop-replay-once. Get things right more times than you get them wrong, or many more times if you want to prevent future recurrence of the problem.
So work practice would be segmented practice and play through would be playing the entire thing? I generally do get things right more than wrong but when I hit a wrong note, the music that plays in my mind halts because of the mistake and I have to restart it and this delay completely throws me off.

Originally Posted by hreichgott

During play-through, if something happens, just keep going. Go straight on to the next note if you can. If not possible then skip straight ahead to the next measure or even the next section. When you first start doing this it will take a while to recover but if you do it often then you will start thinking of certain designated "jump to" spots. Skipping ahead is much more advantageous during performance than skipping back and having to go through the botched section again.

Above all, eliminate play-stop-replay-once from your practice regimen, it doesn't do much good. I warn all my students away from that one.
This doesn't seem like an easy thing for me to do. Well, few things about the piano are easy anyway.

#2268928 - 04/29/14 11:59 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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Originally Posted by noobpianist90
How would you define "real" memory? Do you mean memory of the keyboard, which notes to play or memory of the music or memory of the notation itself?


Real memory require knowing the music. You know that the next note is a 3rd up or down, or it forms a certain chord in a certain key. You know the sound it makes like some suggests, and you could when stressed play the next passages possibly with the wrong fingering because you know what's next but only got tripped up with failed muscle memory. That opens another can of worm of course and is really bad because you have to recover from the recovery.

You could read about some ideas from Chiu: http://fredericchiu.com/dps/Introduction.html (Warning not for beginners, very advance, but interesting for beginners.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szRYyf5YMeM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUerDadSgVU


#2269072 - 04/30/14 12:07 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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Great and timely thread. My teacher has been on me to keep going after mistakes...it IS very hard to do as a beginner. Some good suggestions for me to try, Thanks noobpianist for bringing this topic up.

Chris


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#2269236 - 04/30/14 07:06 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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The trouble with the metronome is that it's just the pulse, with no reference to where you are in the piece. To play with other musicians, you have to be able to get back in after a mistake at the right place. "Music Minus One" recordings help with that.



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#2269304 - 04/30/14 09:47 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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Originally Posted by Eight Octaves
Real memory require knowing the music. You know that the next note is a 3rd up or down, or it forms a certain chord in a certain key. You know the sound it makes like some suggests, and you could when stressed play the next passages possibly with the wrong fingering because you know what's next but only got tripped up with failed muscle memory. That opens another can of worm of course and is really bad because you have to recover from the recovery.
Yes, makes a lot of sense.

Originally Posted by Eight Octaves
You could read about some ideas from Chiu: http://fredericchiu.com/dps/Introduction.html (Warning not for beginners, very advance, but interesting for beginners.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szRYyf5YMeM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUerDadSgVU
Learning the piece away from the score sounds really difficult, but should be really helpful. Good stuff.

#2269310 - 04/30/14 09:56 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: JohnSprung]  
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung

The trouble with the metronome is that it's just the pulse, with no reference to where you are in the piece. To play with other musicians, you have to be able to get back in after a mistake at the right place. "Music Minus One" recordings help with that.

Also, counting the beats helps with that. Do that enough and you'll always be able to find the downbeat of the next measure.


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#2269356 - 04/30/14 10:57 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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Originally Posted by noobpianist90

Learning the piece away from the score sounds really difficult, but should be really helpful. Good stuff.


Like most things, there are degrees of knowing. If a person can hear the tune or hum the tune, they sort of know it, at least know it better than a person that can't do that much. If a person can do that and pretend to position their hands on the piano that is a level deeper. Some of the best can see the score in their mind's eye, but only a small percentage have this ability.

Mental practice, playing with the eyes closed, playing with the sound off on a digital are all additional ways I like to memorize (and I am a beginner). If a person knows the piece without touch, without sight, without sound, that piece is deep in memory. Not every piece can be memorized all these additional ways, but sections can be done. Each adds additional effort and time, but none are necessarily hard. Some like to study the score and look for patterns. Some will use other mnemonic devices for these patterns.

#2269368 - 04/30/14 11:15 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: Sand Tiger]  
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Originally Posted by Sand Tiger
Mental practice, playing with the eyes closed, playing with the sound off on a digital are all additional ways I like to memorize.
I do mental practice away from the piano, and I try playing basic stuff with eyes closed but I haven't tried playing with sound off. I'll see if it works for me.

#2269375 - 04/30/14 11:44 PM Re: Playing through the mistake [Re: noobpianist90]  
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Another comment to expand on muscle memory and section practice....

People often talk about practicing smaller sections of a piece, and have the section start with the last note of the previous section, and end with the first note of the next section, so that when you're ready to play it all together, it's linked up. I do this and it's a really good way to practice. But, if you're like me, it also means that there are tons of places within the entire piece that I never practice starting at that place, or on that note. If I get stuck at that place, I can't pick up and keep going because I haven't practiced starting from that point.

With my recital piece I was having a lot of problems with getting a mistake-free recording because I kept tripping up in different spots, and it really seemed random, each time it was a different mistake. So I started focusing on section practice, except starting in really awkward spots, like halfway through a run or some other point that's not a natural start to a new section (and isn't two notes before a new section). This made a huge difference in my ability to play through mistakes, and to make less mistakes in general.

Also, the comments about having the music going in your head, counting and keeping the beat connect back to your comment about being ok when you have the score in front of you, because these are ways of getting the score (the music) in your head. When I play from the score, I am looking ahead in the music so I know what comes next. To play successfully without a score, we still have to know what comes next, and it is this that keeps us going when we trip up somewhere.

Ultimately, this is also tied to concentration and how well we control our thoughts while playing. Mr S-H's technique of focusing on the next section after a mistake is a way to re-center the concentration away from the mistake and on to the music that's coming next.

I sometimes find myself thinking "oh this is going great" or "this recordings gonna be a keeper!" Well, as soon as I'm thinking that, my mind's off the music. I bring myself back by counting, focusing on the beat. And if I'm playing from the score, I force myself to read it not just run my eyes over the page. But it's the same idea, which is to get other thoughts out of mind and get our focus back on the music that's coming next.

If you've never read the Inner Game of Music, you might consider it since it talks about concentration during practice, not just during performance. I found it very helpful.


Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u

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