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#2652264 06/10/17 03:26 PM
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Isn't keeping focus the most difficult thing in the world? I am discovering it now, because in my previous style I never played a piece more than 3 times in a row, and now I started with that style that makes you practice measures again and again. I can't control my mind. laugh In the end I think I waste a lot of time, because I make mistakes and then I'm kind of back to the starting point.

I guess memorizing should solve it? But I can't memorize for the life of me...will keep trying. laugh

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Albunea #2652266 06/10/17 03:38 PM
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Hey, Albunea!

I've had occasional bouts of weak concentration. Each time, it seems that I had fallen into playing music that I didn't love. I just cannot muster concentration to study, learn, and practice music that I do not enjoy listening to. Each time I go into such a funk, the solution has always been to switch to music that I can get excited about.

One unintended consequence that I have to deal with is that I have to spend about as much time searching and exploring for music as I do practicing and learning it. But, I accept this limitation and have made my peace with it.

I hope you are able to regain your focus. smile


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Albunea #2652270 06/10/17 03:49 PM
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I can understand what you are saying, because it happens to me with music I don't like much. But it also happens with music I love!

The music I don't like I just have to discard. I can only try practicing in this style with music I love. And it has to sound good slow (some music is only good at speed).

Last edited by Albunea; 06/10/17 03:51 PM.
Albunea #2652271 06/10/17 03:58 PM
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Hi albunea
The goal of focus is not to practice over and over and over again, but to work on a measure or a section only as long as you have focus. That same focus will be used in memorizing but I'm afraid that memorizing can't be used just to get rid of the errors. you just need to get rid of the errors while learning.

Choose what needs to be worked on, in small sections, and work on those for only a few minutes. Play very slowly, and accurately. Stop when you no longer have focus. Work on something else for a few minutes, but only for the length of the time you have focus. To practice on something over and over and over again is not efficient and you are right, it is a waste of time.

The whole point of focused practice is not to waste time.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Albunea #2652272 06/10/17 04:05 PM
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Dogperson, I need to incorporate your advice into my practice. Thanks.


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Albunea #2652274 06/10/17 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Albunea
...now I started with that style that makes you practice measures again and again...I think I waste a lot of time, because I make mistakes and then I'm kind of back to the starting point.

You might watch the six videos by Professor John Mortenson on How to Practice. They parallel the six part series by Graham Fitch on his blog.

We start with the artistic vision from reading, listening and audiating.
The we move on to what Graham Fitch calls the three s's (slow, separate, sections). Prof. Mortenson covers going slowly in one video and divide and conquer in another.

In parts 5 and 6 he discusses playing beautifully and comfortably and introduces the feedback loop. It is here we make use of the repetition trick but it's not playing a passage over and over.

It's playing it through in you mind, then listening as you play it on the piano and then reviewing whether you achieved you artistic vision and what to focus on the next time through.

It really doesn't need much effort if it's approached in the right way and interest is maintained in what your doing. It's when you just repeat something many times without focus that practise becomes boring.

Here's the first video in the series...



...and here's the first of the articles by Graham Fitch.




Richard
Albunea #2652276 06/10/17 04:09 PM
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dogperson, but then it seems very difficult to learn something if we can only practice while we can keep focus... frown Anyhow, I know I have to do something different and probably should try what you are saying, which would mean I can only practice something for a short time and it would take years? laugh The thing is that it takes years too the way I am doing it now. frown

Are you able to keep focus on some measures for some minutes and then keep focus on other measures for some minutes again? The truth is that I sometimes am not focused from the moment I start. Probably I should do some Kung Fu like one in the Cliburn competition started with. laugh

Albunea #2652283 06/10/17 04:41 PM
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Hi Albunea

Yes, I do regain focus if I work on a new problem section or measure. when you start the new section, ask yourself what you want to accomplish. Is it learning the notes? Is it getting the rhythm correct in the left-hand.? Is it making the right hand trill smoother? Knowing what you want to accomplish helps keep you focused because you are not just blindly playing. I had mentioned elsewhere that I've started using Post-it note Flags to flag the problem measures for practice. I like them because I can use the arrow to point out exactly what I need to focus on, not just at the measure level, but even the hand or the note.

The other consideration is that you need to keep the total practice time only to the length you have focus.
15 minutes while dinner is cooking? Define a 15 minute goal and work on it for 15 minutes. You will be surprised how much you can get done.

For me, it is really a much quicker way to learn: when I first restarted lessons as an adult, I was working full-time and then practicing three hours a day. I would come to lessons sounding like I had not practiced at all 😂 So I knew there had to be a better way than just playing something over and over.... and I knew I would not be able to keep practicing three hours a day, still work, and want to keep playing. It was just so frustrating not to see progress after I had worked so hard. And now I practice much less per day, but get things learned much quicker.

I do Recommend looking at Fitch's or Mortenson's explanations and approaches.

Last edited by dogperson; 06/10/17 04:43 PM. Reason: Typo

"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Originally Posted by dogperson


Yes, I do regain focus if I work on a new problem section or measure. when you start the new section, ask yourself what you want to accomplish. Is it learning the notes? Is it getting the rhythm correct in the left-hand.? Is it making the right hand trill smoother? Knowing what you want to accomplish helps keep you focused because you are not just blindly playing.


At this point I am only concentrating on playing the right notes. It is true that ALL sections are problem sections.

I have understood all you've said anyhow. Thank you smile I can understand that even if I will learn slowly if I practice each section for a short time, practicing for longer is not helping at all.

zrtf90 #2652296 06/10/17 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by zrtf90
Originally Posted by Albunea
...now I started with that style that makes you practice measures again and again...I think I waste a lot of time, because I make mistakes and then I'm kind of back to the starting point.

You might watch the six videos by Professor John Mortenson on How to Practice. They parallel the six part series by Graham Fitch on his blog.

We start with the artistic vision from reading, listening and audiating.
The we move on to what Graham Fitch calls the three s's (slow, separate, sections). Prof. Mortenson covers going slowly in one video and divide and conquer in another.

In parts 5 and 6 he discusses playing beautifully and comfortably and introduces the feedback loop. It is here we make use of the repetition trick but it's not playing a passage over and over.

It's playing it through in you mind, then listening as you play it on the piano and then reviewing whether you achieved you artistic vision and what to focus on the next time through.

It really doesn't need much effort if it's approached in the right way and interest is maintained in what your doing. It's when you just repeat something many times without focus that practise becomes boring.

Here's the first video in the series...



...and here's the first of the articles by Graham Fitch.



The articles by Graham Fitch look very promising, thanks for the link!


I've started playing January 2017, Nothing is too easy is where I keep track of my progress.

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Albunea #2652301 06/10/17 05:16 PM
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Ops, I had missed Richard's posts.

Albunea #2652306 06/10/17 05:26 PM
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Really helpful - all of this!

I second (and try hard to put into practice) the idea of taking the 15 minutes you ahve and putting it toward a 15 minute task.

I also have the world's hardest time keeping focus - end of a long day, other things to get done, bills to pay........it adds up to a nagging voice in my head when I'd rather be playing.

I recently started trying to learn from the back of the piece rather than the front - kind of trivial, maybe, but the reversal helps me to reinforce the idea of doing this in pieces. Also a useful side benefit is that you've got the ending solid from the beginning, rather than having it be the last, and thus least-worked-on, part of the effort to learn. A less than useful issue is that my weakest part is now the beginning, which isn't a great way to go either, but it's all part of the process.

I really like the idea of asking at the beginning of the practice session "what is my intention". Here's my first attempt: My intention is to figure out these 2 measures that sound lovely when I listen to Andras Schiff play them on Youtube, and see if, albeit at a snail's pace, I can bring out the bass line the way he does. oh yeah, need to get behind the LH 5th finger a lot more solidly if that's going to have a prayer of happening. Posed as a question / problem to solve, it's easier for me (and that's only one person's experience - everyone is different) to focus on the 2 measures I'm supposed to be working on rather than the tempting 50 on either side of it.


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zrtf90 #2652310 06/10/17 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by zrtf90

It's playing it through in you mind, ...



That looks even more difficult. frown I guess it'd take tremendous concentration to be able to do this?

I'd like piano to help me relax, but in the end it seems I first need to learn to relax to be able to play the piano! laugh

Albunea #2652312 06/10/17 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Albunea
Isn't keeping focus the most difficult thing in the world? I am discovering it now, because in my previous style I never played a piece more than 3 times in a row, and now I started with that style that makes you practice measures again and again. I can't control my mind. laugh In the end I think I waste a lot of time, because I make mistakes and then I'm kind of back to the starting point.

I guess memorizing should solve it? But I can't memorize for the life of me...will keep trying. laugh

SQUIRREL!!! I love the part of the movie UP where the dogs pursuing Mr. Fredericksen and Russell are distracted by the shout, "Squirrel!!!"

Certain personality types seem to be more prone to it than others. I'm easily distracted--or to use a less loaded term, I'm acutely aware of things going on around me, and not just when it comes to piano practice. Piano practice is a good place to work on it, if it's an issue.

BTW, the movie UP has some very good piano music in it. I purchased the book (published by Hal Leonard).


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Albunea #2652314 06/10/17 05:46 PM
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I kept thinking of the relaxation required and decided that we need to be ALERT at the same time (like a beer is not going to help much laugh ).

There's nothing going on around me, Stubbie, and I've changed in that sense...I was much more aware of things around me when I was young/er. Now it's just that my head is full of silly things! laugh

I'll remember that film title...don't think I've watched it. smile

Medved1, I still have never started a piece from the end. I've read of that as a technique but it looks very sad to me...I do enjoy what I play despite all my mistakes. It is just that I can never see it as really learned. I never worried about this before and since I now have a teacher I've started realizing this true fact... smile

Albunea #2652315 06/10/17 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Albunea
Originally Posted by zrtf90
It's playing it through in your mind

That looks even more difficult

No. it's just humming it to yourself the way you want it. The way you might have done when you were doing your play by ear exercises. When you hum it to yourself you tend not make mistakes so it's a better target to aim at. When you actually play it there is a tendency, while it's new to you, to get it wrong. Humming it to yourself helps establish the right way in your head so it's easier to get it right with your hands.


Richard
Albunea #2652317 06/10/17 05:50 PM
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Richard, but I can only hum the melody. That is easy for me, by the way. I can make mistakes on the melody too...Well, I'm going to try humming it while playing and see if I can improve! That's something I can do.

Albunea #2652319 06/10/17 05:54 PM
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One element of keeping focus is to have something to focus on. Playing a measure or several measures correctly is not specific enough. Playing with the right timing, or accenting particular notes, might be a start. Secondly you need to know how to do what it is that you are setting out to do. These things are not as obvious as they seem, and it took some time for me to discover them, because initially there was nobody to teach them to me. When you do have a specific focus, you will find you may get tired quite quickly, because we are not used to such concentration. Working in shorter time segments, and changing the thing being worked on, are two strategies.

Albunea #2652324 06/10/17 06:00 PM
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True, keystring! That makes sense. I have nothing to focus on! laugh Maybe that's also related to what Richard is saying with humming and getting the idea in your mind. But the way you say it sounds easier to me, to focus on rhythm or something...I'll try it. I was concentrating on the notes, but in reality I already knew the notes and was just forgetting them because I could not focus.

Albunea #2652334 06/10/17 06:14 PM
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Keystring
You are certainly correct: it is not enough just to identify the problem unless you can identify how you can work on it. Sometimes this is easy: change the fingering, try it without the pedal, circle the note error in the score, etc. To use MedVed's example, lean more on the fifth finger. Sometimes it is experimentation, and sometimes it is above my personal problem solving skills . I can recognize the problem, try to solve it, but no solution.

What to do? Drag it to my lesson, let my teacher know what is the issue, and what I have tried. We start out all of my lessons this way: the problems I have had in practice that need her experience. Then I drag it home again for focused practice.

And then there is the other kind of problem: the one I didn't know I had, but I hear about in my lesson. cry Just more focused practice.

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