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#2625177 - 03/19/17 04:04 PM Slow practice question  
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I'm doing repetitions of slow practice for a certain 4 bars that I'm having trouble with - I've slowed it down to a slow pace where I can get all the correct notes however between each bar there is hesitation (to safely make sure I'm drilling the correct notes into my fingers) where the arpeggios change on the left hand. Is this ok for repetition or should I slow it down to a snails pace where there are no delays whatsoever?

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#2625179 - 03/19/17 04:19 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Originally Posted by Scottswald
Is this ok for repetition or should I slow it down to a snails pace where there are no delays whatsoever?


The latter is better. If you are having trouble stitching all four measures without hesitations, then stitch a pair. If that's difficult, then just work a few notes across the bar line. If any single measure is unstable, work that in isolation.

Over time, zoom out to a larger section.


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#2625196 - 03/19/17 05:15 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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slow practice is a tool you will work with and develop to suit your own particular needs. So I don't think there is necessarily a right or wrong way, just different ways of using it for different situations. However having said that in this case ironing out those hesitations does sound important. I am using ultra slow practice on a piece at the moment to get the fingering, hand movement and timing all solid. This requires playing RH one section of sixteenth notes at 40 bpm, (one beat per sixteenth note), and the entire piece not much faster if I want to incorporate the same section. This is incredibly slow but has that great effect you get from slow practice, where you are able to think about every detail instead of just using muscle memory.

As an aside, in August last year I started to run an experiment on a Bach Invention I was having trouble with. I could not play the piece two handed without random errors, a classic sign I was playing too fast and had not yet learned the piece deeply enough. My experiment was to not leave the piano until I got a single handed perfect run through, which of course required slowing down to the point I could not possibly make a mistake. Eventually I put the hands together and gradually increased the speed but even to this day I am trying for a perfect run through and when I don't get one I slow down until I do.


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

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#2625210 - 03/19/17 05:52 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Good points, how long has your expediment been running earl of mar?

Whiz bang - the first two bars were a lot easier so I certainly put a lot more time in the second 2. I've played through all four bars now and then but I'll concentrate on that more when I can do the second two with ease.

It's quite a new rythm to me and I'm having to concentrate that hard that after 15 mins my head is done in. I therefore have done a good 5 or so short stints at this today. It's still slow but I really feel that tomorrow I will play it better. For me personally, only around 25% of the results of repetition work is immediate and the rest doesn't show until after a nights sleep. I like it though, it makes me rather excited to try again the next day.

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#2625214 - 03/19/17 06:08 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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my experiment has been running since August last year, and has now become a way of learning every new piece. I did forget to say that each perfect run through was a great confidence boost, and each success built upon itself.

It is not like I discovered anything new, it has just taken a long time for me to get to the point where I can get the most from slow practice.







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

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#2625217 - 03/19/17 06:15 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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As Whizbang suggests, work on eliminating the hesitation by choosing a few notes before the bar line and a few notes after the bar line.

It's not a bad idea to use various places to stop and start your slow practice. Don't always make the chunk you are practicing the first note of one measure and the last the end of a following measure.


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#2625218 - 03/19/17 06:18 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Don't forget to use metronome once you worked out fingering...this will help how slow you can go...


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#2625223 - 03/19/17 06:30 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Originally Posted by Scottswald
I'm doing repetitions of slow practice for a certain 4 bars that I'm having trouble with - I've slowed it down to a slow pace where I can get all the correct notes however between each bar there is hesitation (to safely make sure I'm drilling the correct notes into my fingers) where the arpeggios change on the left hand. Is this ok for repetition or should I slow it down to a snails pace where there are no delays whatsoever?

There's a trick of sort of bridging between two bars. For example, play beat 4 of m. 6, to beat 1 of m. 7. Or even work backwards. Or beats 3 & 4 of m. 6 to beats 1 & 2 of m. 7, just as slowly, anticipating your chord change and the rest. If you're working on a difficult few notes, "blend in" what comes just before, and "phase out" from there to what comes right after.

(Just notice that Stubbie already wrote this idea.)

#2625242 - 03/19/17 07:43 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Thanks key string, I assume it would be good to try playing two mastered bars together first and then work on bridging only if it seems too difficult?

#2625244 - 03/19/17 07:49 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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It's not a complicated part for you guys (extremely simple I'd imagine) but one persons difficult is easy to the next person and vice versa I suppose.

I slowed it down so much that it still sounded like a song, just a differant song lol

#2625249 - 03/19/17 08:16 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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The key to iron out the hesitations is to practice those places "slow-fast". What I mean by that is that the pace of the music is really slow but whenever there is a transition you execute it as quickly as you can. For instance, let's say the hesitation is when your hand is moving from a C chord to an F chord. You should play the C chord and immediately move your hand to the F chord position, just hovering above the keys and ready to play. The point is that you have to think ahead and be ready for the next measure beforehand. But make sure that the overall tempo is really, really slow, so you have time to think.

I guarantee that after this you will no longer have those hesitations.


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#2625250 - 03/19/17 08:21 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Scott:

From the sound of your questions and comments along the way ...

It sounds like you may be doing too much jumping around between one activity and another.

I would suggest you take the method book you have chosen (Alfred's) and begin again and take it page by page and make sure you can perform everything on each page flawlessly, on the beat (metronome ?) and in a relaxed, comfortable manner before you go to the next page. I think that will cut down on the number of questions you have and comments about things you are struggling with. If you go too fast, you will struggle with everything and eventually give up.

Just a thought.

Good Luck to you

Last edited by dmd; 03/19/17 08:22 PM.

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#2625262 - 03/19/17 09:06 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Hi dmd

Thanks for your reply again, I remember talking to you previously.

I remember being advised on the thread to drop some of my ideas like czerny as I may be "spread myself too thin" - I came to the decision to do 15 mins of scales, 30 mins on Alfred's then another 15 mins on a whatever piece I'm working on for my enjoyment at the end.

I did this religiously until I purchased a proper digital piano (I had a 61 key unweighted keyboard then) and I was so happy to have something that sounded good that I wanted a little while to just play music and get used to the touch of weighted keys. Call it getting carried away with excitment!

Anyway I plan on getting back to my routine in a few days and will start at the beginning of Alfred's so I can take my time and improve dynamics, timing etc.

I was thinking of making my own Alfred's thread or posting links in the main Alfred's thread to my recordings to get each piece "passed off" before moving to the next. Does this seem like an idea that would work to you?


#2625280 - 03/19/17 10:34 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Originally Posted by Scottswald
Hi dmd

Thanks for your reply again, I remember talking to you previously.

I remember being advised on the thread to drop some of my ideas like czerny as I may be "spread myself too thin" - I came to the decision to do 15 mins of scales, 30 mins on Alfred's then another 15 mins on a whatever piece I'm working on for my enjoyment at the end.

I did this religiously until I purchased a proper digital piano (I had a 61 key unweighted keyboard then) and I was so happy to have something that sounded good that I wanted a little while to just play music and get used to the touch of weighted keys. Call it getting carried away with excitment!

Anyway I plan on getting back to my routine in a few days and will start at the beginning of Alfred's so I can take my time and improve dynamics, timing etc.

I was thinking of making my own Alfred's thread or posting links in the main Alfred's thread to my recordings to get each piece "passed off" before moving to the next. Does this seem like an idea that would work to you?


It could.

Try it. When you think you have done a very good job on something, post it and see what others think. Then you will get an idea of what is needed before moving on.

Anything that gets you to stay with something until you can call it WELL DONE. No matter how simple, you must get it exactly right before moving on. If you don't do that, you end up with lots of stuff that you can do "sort of" and that adds up to nothing as time goes on.

If I were you I would not do ANYTHING but the Alfred's method book. Do it very well.

That stuff you are doing for your enjoyment ... It probably is much too difficult for you and probably does you more harm than good. I would wait until you have experience some SUCCESS in the Alfred's method book. The Alfred's book suggests some additional material after you have gone through a few pages successfully. There is no point in fooling with other stuff until you can actually play a little bit successfully.



Last edited by dmd; 03/19/17 11:24 PM.

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#2625370 - 03/20/17 10:00 AM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Originally Posted by Scottswald

It's quite a new rythm to me and I'm having to concentrate that hard that after 15 mins my head is done in. I therefore have done a good 5 or so short stints at this today. It's still slow but I really feel that tomorrow I will play it better. For me personally, only around 25% of the results of repetition work is immediate and the rest doesn't show until after a nights sleep. I like it though, it makes me rather excited to try again the next day.
This concerns me a bit that this piece might be a bit too much of a stretch for you. I'm not saying you can't do it, but if it is this hard, it is possible that you lack the necessary skills needed to get this piece to where most people would be satisfied with it.

May I ask what piece it is?

FWIW, playing so slowly it sounds like a different song is about right. If there are any mistakes or hesitations or tension, however, then it's too fast.

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#2625377 - 03/20/17 10:12 AM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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What are the four bars you're working on slowly? Is it something we might know or that you could post an image of? We might be able to offer more advice if we knew what was causing the hesitations.

The improvements that show up after a night's sleep are the ONLY improvements. wink The others are just in temporary working memory. It's how you play a piece without practising it first that matters. Ask someone who's recorded their playing!

I'd also be interested to know what else you are currently doing before getting back to your previous routine, where you got that routine (if it wasn't of your own design) and where your ambitions lie in terms of the piano.



Richard
#2625385 - 03/20/17 10:59 AM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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I know it may seem ridiculous to you's when I tell you what has been giving me the problems but it is bars 13-16 of nuvolé bianche - arpeggios in the left hand with a simple melody in the right hand. I did try again this morning and I was much better as I can consistently play it at 50% speed and have managed it at roughly 100% a few times although I'm not wanting rush.

Zrtf90 - for your last question - I have simply being learning nuvolé bianche to this point and I already knew the notes for moonlight sonata to bar 20 so I have been adding the dynamics. I just wanted to make some nice sounds with my new piano I guess.

I will be returning to a routine today or tomorrow. That routine was just a compromise of various suggestions in a previous thread, dmd is advising I stick solely with Alfred's for now though.

#2625394 - 03/20/17 12:03 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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I would recommend finding some easier pieces. There are lots of arrangements of beautiful songs that are edited for beginners. Check out the showtime and Funtime series by Faber. I totally get about wanting to play something better than the Alfred's, but I think you are setting yourself up for frustration trying to play intermediate and advanced pieces as a beginner. As adults it is hard, because we know what we want to do, we understand the music, we can read it, the brain is ready to play, but the hands don't have the skills.

#2625401 - 03/20/17 12:41 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Reading your recent post below, your expectation of what you could learn as a complete beginner is not totally realistic. You'll do better to stay focused on Alfred Book 1 you mentioned you are starting and complete it cover to cover mastering every piece before checking back with Nuvole Bianche by Ludovico Einaudi or Fur Elise by Beethoven. Even then it would be too soon. No amount of slow practice will help nor is it productive when it is way above your current skill level.

Ideally, you should be able to sight-read and play a piece at least about half speed for it to be appropriate for your skill level. Along with being able to play it at least half speed, slow practice is a tool within that context. Don't worry, you're in good company, and plenty of people here try to learn things way over their heads all the time. The danger is that it is demoralizing when you spend enormous amount of time on something and still cannot play it; it leads to giving up. Otherwise there is no real harm if you're careful to not injure yourself while doing it. Some times, repetitive stress injuries can be serious from practicing incorrectly. Since you have a weightless keyboard, the chances of that is diminished.

Piano music, even easy sounding piano music, is actually much harder than non musical people realize, and the two pieces mentioned above are not for beginners. Welcome to the long haul. You are in good company. This experience will give you an appreciation of how hard learning piano is. Also, as soon as possible, ditch that 61-key thing and get something that has 88-keys with weighted action like a used Yamaha P95 in working condition ($350?). Until you got that, you're wasting the time you spend on a non-weighted keyboard.

Originally Posted by Scottswald
I am a complete beginner pretty much, I wish to learn by myself for the time being, I have a 64 key non weighted Yamaha keyboard and do plan on getting a weighted 88 key keyboard at some point but not just yet.

I have been copying people playing on YouTube for a few weeks while I researched what to practice. Just popular stuff like the first section of fur Elise (like so many do!).



#2625418 - 03/20/17 01:47 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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8 octaves - I am definately gonna spend the vast majority of my time on perfecting Alfred's. I know I'll still tinker a little with a harder piece but for my enjoyment and not part of my routine. I just enjoy it so much.

I got a new digital piano a last week, it's a Casio px760 so it has got 88 weighted keys

#2625421 - 03/20/17 02:03 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Originally Posted by Scottswald
I got a new digital piano a last week, it's a Casio px760 so it has got 88 weighted keys


That's great! Tinkering is fine. Just be super aware of your body with the hard stuff, and if you feel any sign of even the slightest discomfort not to mention pain, stop.

#2625424 - 03/20/17 02:06 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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#2625431 - 03/20/17 02:43 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Beautiful!!!

#2625450 - 03/20/17 03:46 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Congratulations on the new piano, Scott! Health to enjoy!

Your issues are not ridiculous at all.

For Nuvole Bianche I'd play b13-16 with the arpeggios as block chords like the first half of bb25-28 until you can change chord in a beat with the whole hand covering the new notes immediately, which you might practise separately.

I'm not sure whether it would be best to use one chord every three notes, as in bar 25, or one every two to align more easily with the RH. Going both ways would probably help the most.

If you're slowing down you can avoid going too slow by shortening the size of the extract you're working on. These bars divide easily into two and four parts so working on 3 + 1 notes (three eighth notes plus the first note of the next group), 6 + 1 notes and 12 + 1 notes you should be able to lick this passage into shape. The shorter the fragment, the faster you can go.

You're going to have a problem from bar 35 on until you've a bit more experience but I don't see any problem getting up to there if you're getting the rhythm and enjoying the process but don't spend too long on it each day.

Unlike others here I don't see sticking with just Alfred's as the best route but since I don't yet know where you're heading with the piano I don't know what skills are going to benefit you the most.

While Alfred's, as a method, will help with a gentle progression you don't want to stifle your urge to work on real music and solve real problems - you just have to contain the amount you do each day to be able to make progress in a few minutes. It's also quite natural to want to enjoy the new piano so don't worry about it too much.

I'd add some playing by ear, just picking out melodies to songs you know. By the time Alfred's introduces enough chords you might be able to harmonise them. If you spend more than a few days on any piece or passage add material that will keep your reading fresh and use it just for reading. You can discard it after a few days.

Don't worry about scales and technical work yet.



Richard
#2625465 - 03/20/17 04:42 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Thanks Richard for such a thorough and helpful reply.

I apologise for missing your question about my where my ambitions lie - I just want to be well rounded, play classical music such as Bach, Beethoven, Chopin etc. Nothing amazing but to be competent once I've put the years in.

I always feel in such a predicament when offered contrasting advice from differant members - all I know is they all know more than me but I can only go with 1 suggestion - it really makes me feel bad as I feels like I'm ignoring perfectly good advice

#2625471 - 03/20/17 05:01 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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No problem, Scott. The advice will still be there later.



Richard
#2625481 - 03/20/17 05:20 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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I'm not suggesting that I will not listen to you in particular, just when you're offered differant advice I've no idea who's to take, I don't even feel qualified to make that decision. Is finding a balance between the suggestions the correct route?

Would dropping the scales and doing 45 mins Alfred and 15 my chosen pieces be a balance between the suggestions?

I will look at my score for nuvolé bianche and try your suggestions, thankyou for taking the the time to type such a thorough post Richard.

#2625486 - 03/20/17 05:51 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Originally Posted by Scottswald


Would dropping the scales and doing 45 mins Alfred and 15 my chosen pieces be a balance between the suggestions?



One "Yes" vote from me.

#2625501 - 03/20/17 06:52 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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You need to develop skills, Scott. The most important are reading (without having to look at the keyboard), memorising (not necessarily for performance without the score but for internalising and understanding the music), playing by ear and improvising. These are brain skills and they develop best from daily practise over long periods. They all fade if they're not kept up. Two to five minutes on each is sufficient.

Technical studies like scales will not advance your progress in the first couple of years unless you have a good teacher detailing the whys and hows. Without a teacher they are more likely to hinder your progress until your technique is well rounded. A well rounded technique comes from a wide range of repertoire. You will need to learn the scales (know the notes and key signatures) before you need to practise them.

I would put a cap on Alfred's of 30 mins. Even 20 mins may be enough. 5-10 minutes on each of a small selection of lessons is about as much as you can assimilate at first. 15 minutes on an Alfred's lesson is too much repetition and not enough progress. It may lead to frequent errors, frustration and lack of progress. Two minutes each on fifteen pieces/fragments is more productive than 30 minutes on one piece.

If it ain't happening, four clicks of the metronome (at about 60 bpm) for each note just a few times will work, with sleep intervening. That's four seconds a note. That will feel deathly slow. But it gets it into the head accurately and once it's there it comes out at the speed of a firing synapse not the speed you put it in with. As the accuracy and facility increases so you may increase the repetitions not the other way around.

There are precious few times when I ever spend more than twenty minutes on a piece at a stretch. I've done over thirty minutes on a Bach fugue a few times but it's never as productive as shorter and more concentrated stints.

Oh, and you need to keep experimenting to find out what works best for you.



Richard
#2625521 - 03/20/17 08:22 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Originally Posted by Scottswald
... however between each bar there is hesitation (to safely make sure I'm drilling the correct notes into my fingers) where the arpeggios change on the left hand. Is this ok for repetition or should I slow it down to a snails pace where there are no delays whatsoever?


Do it without the hesitations. They're deadly. If you practice with hesitations, you're burning them into your memory. Use the metronome. If you can, download the free "Audacity" sound processing program, and record your slow practice. Play it back speeded up.



-- J.S.

[Linked Image] [Linked Image]

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690
#2625522 - 03/20/17 08:23 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Scottswald Offline
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Thankyou for such good advice, I'm going to bookmark this page as I will want to remind myself of all them tips throughout my Path.

When I see your name it really stands out as the first thing I ever read on piano world was a thread with a title similar to "what's the most useful thing you've ever read on piano world" and someone wrote "anything written by zrtf90" and various people seconding that.

#2625525 - 03/20/17 08:27 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: JohnSprung]  
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Scottswald Offline
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by Scottswald
... however between each bar there is hesitation (to safely make sure I'm drilling the correct notes into my fingers) where the arpeggios change on the left hand. Is this ok for repetition or should I slow it down to a snails pace where there are no delays whatsoever?


Do it without the hesitations. They're deadly. If you practice with hesitations, you're burning them into your memory. Use the metronome. If you can, download the free "Audacity" sound processing program, and record your slow practice. Play it back speeded up.



It does make sense that I'm drilling the hesitation in too and not just the correct note.

I understand what you mean about replaying slow practice audacity recordings back speeded/sped up, but why? (Please don't take that the wrong way, just genuinely don't understand the purpose)

#2625556 - 03/21/17 12:00 AM Re: Slow practice question [Re: zrtf90]  
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Originally Posted by zrtf90
Oh, and you need to keep experimenting to find out what works best for you.



That is the best advice you'll get, ever.

Consider joining the 40 Pieces a Year thread.

Congratulations on the new piano. Looks very nice!



Middle-aged curmudgeon, started learning on Nov. 3, 2016.

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#2625655 - 03/21/17 11:28 AM Re: Slow practice question [Re: fishandchips]  
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Scottswald Offline
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Originally Posted by fishandchips
Originally Posted by zrtf90
Oh, and you need to keep experimenting to find out what works best for you.



That is the best advice you'll get, ever.

Consider joining the 40 Pieces a Year thread.

Congratulations on the new piano. Looks very nice!



Thanks mate

That challenge sounds very good and it sounds really motivating to to update people on progress (or lack of occasionally) - I thought it was just a place for advanced members to show off and didn't realise it was a learning method for people at all levels.

I assume my completed Alfred's songs could go in there?

#2625661 - 03/21/17 11:42 AM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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bSharp(C)yclist Online content
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bSharp(C)yclist  Online Content
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Originally Posted by Scottswald
Originally Posted by fishandchips
Originally Posted by zrtf90
Oh, and you need to keep experimenting to find out what works best for you.



That is the best advice you'll get, ever.

Consider joining the 40 Pieces a Year thread.

Congratulations on the new piano. Looks very nice!



Thanks mate

That challenge sounds very good and it sounds really motivating to to update people on progress (or lack of occasionally) - I thought it was just a place for advanced members to show off and didn't realise it was a learning method for people at all levels.

I assume my completed Alfred's songs could go in there?


Nothing advanced about it. You'll find pieces from all levels there. Create a SoundCloud account or use YouTube and put your recordings on there. I like to try to record everything I learn and while none of them are perfect, it's nice to go back and see what I could do better. I would probably have to learn some of the pieces over again, but that might help make it better.

#2625753 - 03/21/17 05:07 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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Originally Posted by Scottswald
...I thought it was just a place for advanced members...


I'm flattered! grin

By all means, join us! It is, indeed, a worthwhile activity. I love it and benefit greatly. You will probably enjoy it as well.

If you need more information about it, read the articles linked in the very first post in the 40 Pieces thread. It is very interesting reading, and lays out quite a good explanation of the benefits.


Ralph

Casio Privia PX-760
Pianoteq Stage
Pianist since April, 2015
#2625793 - 03/21/17 08:10 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: Scottswald]  
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JohnSprung Offline
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Originally Posted by Scottswald
I understand what you mean about replaying slow practice audacity recordings back speeded/sped up, but why? (Please don't take that the wrong way, just genuinely don't understand the purpose)


Playing back a recording of yourself -- no matter what speed you played, no matter what speed you play it back -- can be a shock. When you're busy playing, all your brain power is tied up in the actual playing, with little to none left over for critical listening.

The first time I did, it was amazing how much worse I actually sucked than I thought I did.

Speeding up your slow play to normal speed makes it somewhat easier to detect any remaining hesitations. You can play a couple octaves lower than written and speed up four times to get the pitch close to right.

*** Again, most important, don't practice with the hesitations. ***

Never practice wrong. If you practice wrong, you learn wrong, and you'll be stuck with unlearning it.

Try your best to make every note sound like music. Don't try to add "expression" later. Remember what Beethoven said: "To play without passion is inexcusable."




-- J.S.

[Linked Image] [Linked Image]

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690
#2625830 - 03/21/17 11:57 PM Re: Slow practice question [Re: JohnSprung]  
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Ralphiano Offline
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung


*** Again, most important, don't practice with the hesitations. ***

Never practice wrong. If you practice wrong, you learn wrong, and you'll be stuck with unlearning it.



If I was smarter, I would do this all of the time, instead of just sporadically. blush


Ralph

Casio Privia PX-760
Pianoteq Stage
Pianist since April, 2015
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