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Re: Performing - staying in the zone [Re: GoldmanT] #2595146
12/15/16 10:18 PM
12/15/16 10:18 PM
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 9,063
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wr Offline
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Sometimes, I start to enjoy listening to the music I am making so much that I forget that I need to be paying attention to making it. And for me, that's often where things get derailed.

One thing that helps to keep my mind where it needs to be is by trying to keep an attitude of responsibility for getting every single note exactly "just so". Doing that keeps my mind absorbed with the actual detailed making of the music rather than letting it drift off into random thoughts.


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Re: Performing - staying in the zone [Re: GoldmanT] #2595156
12/15/16 10:44 PM
12/15/16 10:44 PM
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 1,906
guess where in CA and WA
laguna_greg Offline
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Originally Posted by GoldmanT

It's not my post, I only linked to it, but what about that way of practising doesn't work for you, and what do you differently now?


The short answer is, everything.

If you don't know anything about Taubman, or the psycho-neuro-physiolology involved (yup, it's that complicated), then the subject is far too complex and involved for a post here.

The only way to answer you is if you come for some lessons.

If you think a mindless repetition of a passage that doesn't work is going to fix it, somehow, then you really need to study this subject a lot more. And I do mean a lot more, and from every angle. And from top peopple, not fly-by-night charlatans who talk a lot but don't produce consistent results in their students (if they even have any).


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Performing - staying in the zone [Re: GoldmanT] #2595165
12/15/16 11:20 PM
12/15/16 11:20 PM
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 3,388
western MA, USA
hreichgott Offline
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western MA, USA
To GoldmanT,

Between about 2011 and 2014 I had some great performances and some horrible ones. I had to reflect on what I was doing in order to improve matters. (I'd like to have my performances be more on the spectrum of "ok" to "great"!) I teach, so I get to try some things out with students too. And I talk to other pianists and have some understanding of what they do as well.

What seems to work well for everyone is practice performances. Of the same piece you want to give a good performance of. Play for a friend, for two neighbors, make a video and share the video with someone, play a piano that's in a public place if you can find one.

For me personally, the first thing I had to do was to stop kidding myself about my preparation. Students do this often -- they have learned a section and sometimes they nail it, and so they think it will go great in performance, even if the reality is that it only goes great about 30% of the time in practice. If the piece is really ready, there will be no spots that are regularly problematic or scary. When run-throughs even on a bad day still sound OK, that's when you're ready to perform.

Practice just has to involve way more correct repetitions than incorrect ones. Of whatever section we're working on. For myself and my students, as a matter of course, when we learn a new section we repeat it successfully (ie note-perfect and with beautiful sound and expression, even if it's slow) a bunch of times before moving on. Same with any section that had to be problem-solved: don't just solve the problem once, solve it and then do several successful repetitions before moving on.

Differentiating between problem-solving mode and run-through mode. When we're problem-solving we are perfectionist, we get it right a lot of times, and we work in sections rather than going from beginning to end of the piece. When we're running through, we go from beginning to end, we don't stop or back up for any reason, we allow wrong notes to fall on the floor and we try to cope and make a beautiful overall musical picture.

This is kind of brutal but it really does work: when I'm preparing for a performance, I often will take the piece page by page and get EVERYTHING on the page to go the way I want (notes, dynamics, articulations, phrasing, everything) three times. Then go on to the next page. This is a great way to expose weaknesses I didn't know I had. (And sometimes I just bail on this task and do other kinds of problem-solving practice and then try the page-three-times approach the next day.)

Sometimes when preparing for a performance I get really sick and tired of playing the same repertoire in the same order. When it's in the run-through stage... running the program day after day with no difficulties. I just don't want to do it AGAIN that day, it's easy and boring, isn't every other day enough? But, so far, every time I've gotten a program to that point and made myself still run through it daily, I've felt really secure in performance. Things still happen sometimes, but I know the pieces inside out and I can easily get back on track no matter what. So I think there is some value in being so prepared that daily run-throughs become boringly easy.

Other things that might help:
Over-preparation -- learning technically challenging sections to a faster tempo than performance tempo, so the performance tempo feels easy
Memorizing hands separately, singing one voice at a time from memory or writing out the score from memory
Playing on different instruments in different locations, or changing something about the regular practice environment (lighting, objects on or near the piano, background noise)
Making sure one's body is physically ready to be alert in performance -- for me, if it's been a long time since I ate, I'm not that alert, so I make sure to eat within an hour or two of performance. I also am naturally less alert in the later evening so I just have a cup of coffee if I have to play past 8 or 9pm. Timing of medications etc affects some people.
...but in practice, it's great to run through the pieces when I'm really tired, or had a bad day, or something hurts, or for some other reason I feel like I'm having a rough time. If I can play the pieces then, I can play them anytime.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano

Working on:
Beethoven - Diabelli Variations Op. 120
Beethoven/Liszt - Symphony no. 7
Tommy (whole show)

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
Re: Performing - staying in the zone [Re: GoldmanT] #2596038
12/19/16 04:13 AM
12/19/16 04:13 AM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,675
Arghhh Offline
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Arghhh  Offline
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg

BTW, I took a look at your post at the "Molto" web site, and that is how I used to practice before I got retrained. Today, I find that kind of preparation woefully inadequate, and a very sure way to guarantee you don't play well.


were you referring to the Top to Bottom way of practicing, or the specific steps given in the article?


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
Re: Performing - staying in the zone [Re: GoldmanT] #2597030
12/22/16 02:51 AM
12/22/16 02:51 AM
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,682
Opus_Maximus Offline
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Originally Posted by GoldmanT
I read once somewhere (can't remember where) that there's no such thing as practising the piano, only learning and performing. Regardless of whether that's true or not, I have a good frame of mind for the first part but struggle with the second.

I will play things that I know, and I know I know them, and yet each time round I will trip up in a different place or my fingers will jump to the wrong keys and I'll lose my bearings. No matter how I try to stay focused on the moment, I can't help my mind going blank or on autopilot, or wondering what I'll put in my sandwich at lunch. It feels like when you're walking down stairs, and your feet suddenly stutter and forget how to walk down stairs and you almost take a tumble, only less dangerous.

Does anyone recognise this kind of problem, and how do you stay focused?

Or is this just a symptom of not knowing the piece well enough? I generally play from memory once I've got my fingers around it, trying to read at the same time would just distract me.


Yup. This was me as a teenager. I'd end up three pages into a piece and not really having remembered how I got there. It was a wonder, in retrospect, how I was able to perform as successfully as I did.

It sounds like you might be trying too hard to focus on your focus for the sake of focus!! In order to actually increase your concentration and presence of mind, you must find specific things on WHICH to attention your focus.

I think someone else said it -- the solution (at least for me), is to have goals and intentions for EVERY bar, EVERY phrase. Your attention should always be on something specific:

Is the tempo steady?
Is the voicing correct?
Is the pedal blurry?
Can I play the passage at quarter tempo? Half tempo? Full tempo? Double speed?
Are the crescendos and decrescendos enough to have an emotional impact?
Does it feel comfortable?
Am I rushing between these two notes?
What harmony is this?
How can I manipulate the timing to make it more beautiful?
What note and what finger does the LH come in on? Drill it
Is my rubato here stylistically correct?
Should I count this section aloud with subdivisions to check the accuracy of the rhythm?
How will this sound with the metronome, then without it?
Where is the peak of the phrase?
Why does this passage still feel tense in my hand?
How is this fingering? Is there a better alternative? Can I divide it between the hands?
What motive is this deriving from, or what melodic material will it later on evolve into?
Why do I always miss this jump? What movement will make me not miss it?
What is the best practice strategy to nail these four bars? Did I already try that? If so, how much and when? If not, how should I go about making a work plan??


If playing from memory and are constantly tripping up, then test yourself to see if you REALLY KNOW IT:

See how much of LH alone you can play from memory
See how much of the RH alone you can play from memory
See if you are able to know exactly what happens on which beats. (For example, play only the notes/chords that fall on the main beats, while leaving out everything in between). This gives your mind a birds eye view of the structure.
See if you can play the piece SUPER SLOW from memory (one note per two seconds)...this will strip away any reliance on muscle memory and reveal if your brain itself knows the notes

....you get the picture. These are all deep, intense, complicated strategies. Doing them correctly and with confidence will require you to be engaged fully. If you are just playing through the piece over and over again...no wonder you are getting bored.

Improvement - in the final analysis - is simply awareness. Awareness of more possibilities and more solutions that you previously didn't know existed. When you become more aware of so much, you won't even be giving your mind the option to wander - it will be too full of things to be aware of! If it helps (or if you feel so confused and overwhelmed that you don't even know where to start), keep a checklist of specific bullet points to pay attention to on a pad on your piano, and cycle through this list during your practice sessions.

One thing that might be worth trying: Record your practice session. With the red light on, you will subconsciously feel a bit of pressure (akin to a performance), and it will help keep your mind more on track.

Last edited by Opus_Maximus; 12/22/16 03:09 AM.
Re: Performing - staying in the zone [Re: Arghhh] #2597647
12/24/16 12:34 AM
12/24/16 12:34 AM
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 1,906
guess where in CA and WA
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member
laguna_greg  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 1,906
guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted by Arghhh
Originally Posted by laguna_greg

BTW, I took a look at your post at the "Molto" web site, and that is how I used to practice before I got retrained. Today, I find that kind of preparation woefully inadequate, and a very sure way to guarantee you don't play well.


were you referring to the Top to Bottom way of practicing, or the specific steps given in the article?


The whole thing.

And I do mean in its entirety. Taking into consideration what is actually available to the average player in terms of information about the incredibly precise technical choreographic movements on the web these days, among other options.

Of course, you could always go for some lessons with one of these major international teachers, instead of asking really stupid, obscure and uninformed questions on this site. Which just shows how resistant to changing anything you people really are, even if it would help you.

Just sayin'... and it's about gddm time...


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Performing - staying in the zone [Re: laguna_greg] #2597696
12/24/16 06:38 AM
12/24/16 06:38 AM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,675
Arghhh Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Arghhh  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,675
Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Originally Posted by Arghhh
Originally Posted by laguna_greg

BTW, I took a look at your post at the "Molto" web site, and that is how I used to practice before I got retrained. Today, I find that kind of preparation woefully inadequate, and a very sure way to guarantee you don't play well.


were you referring to the Top to Bottom way of practicing, or the specific steps given in the article?


The whole thing.

And I do mean in its entirety. Taking into consideration what is actually available to the average player in terms of information about the incredibly precise technical choreographic movements on the web these days, among other options.

Of course, you could always go for some lessons with one of these major international teachers, instead of asking really stupid, obscure and uninformed questions on this site. Which just shows how resistant to changing anything you people really are, even if it would help you.

Just sayin'... and it's about gddm time...


Sheesh. Sorry I asked!


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
Re: Performing - staying in the zone [Re: GoldmanT] #2597697
12/24/16 06:44 AM
12/24/16 06:44 AM
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 7,048
Italy
casinitaly Offline

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Italy
Arghhh, Don t let Greg get to you. He isn't representative of what these forums are about.



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Re: Performing - staying in the zone [Re: Arghhh] #2598352
12/27/16 09:54 AM
12/27/16 09:54 AM
Joined: Nov 2016
Posts: 266
G
GoldmanT Offline OP
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GoldmanT  Offline OP
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Posts: 266
Originally Posted by Arghhh

Sheesh. Sorry I asked!


This old thread seems to give an overview:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/449210/2.html

From what I've read (on other websites too) Taubmanites seem to be on a par with Scientologists in their zealousness.

Also it seems to be an ergonomic technique, a guide on 'how' you play something, not 'what' you play. So I'm sure someone using that technique would still have to slow down and repeat difficult stuff to learn it, get it up to performance level etc.

Re: Performing - staying in the zone [Re: GoldmanT] #2598460
12/27/16 05:22 PM
12/27/16 05:22 PM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,675
Arghhh Offline
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Arghhh  Offline
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In contrast to the suggestion to avoid practicing from the beginning, watch this video from the famous flutist Emmanuel Pahud, starting at 2:20:


I've been playing around with this recently, and am hoping it will give me a longer focus for my performances as well. Obviously if I keep making the same mistake, then I need to go back and woodshed that area instead of repeating from the beginning. He has other videos recommending playing passages 3x correctly, so starting from the beginning isn't his main way of practicing.

Somewhere in the practice routines I do run-throughs to see how it all works together and map out. If there are tricky bits somewhere, of course I go and work those bits out. Sometimes those bits still require more focus to play correctly so I'll also put a mark in my score a measure or two ahead to remind myself that I need to focus soon, otherwise I'll get to that tricky spot and not be prepared to play it.

Last edited by Arghhh; 12/27/16 05:25 PM.

Professional pianist and piano teacher.
Re: Performing - staying in the zone [Re: GoldmanT] #2598528
12/27/16 09:57 PM
12/27/16 09:57 PM
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 1,885
Philadelphia, PA
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jdw Offline
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Philadelphia, PA
Will just say that I think general bashing of "Taubmanites" is uncalled for. I don't know if I qualify for the label myself because I'm just an amateur student of a great Taubman teacher. But if we want civility it's best if we all practice it.


1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:​
Schubert, Op. 90 no. 2
Sinding, Frühlingsrauschen (Rustle of Spring)
Beethoven, Sonata no. 14 in C# minor (Moonlight)
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