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Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
gingko2 #2694272 12/04/17 05:55 PM
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The 'challenge' becomes more difficult when you get more advanced as pieces are longer and harder - so it gets much harder to meet the challenge. It may even be counterproductive and put you off as you are not able to complete pieces fast enough for the 'challenge'.

For beginners a piece may only be half a page, so it is more doable 40 pieces, and can be a great motivator and can help sight reading. Not necessarily great for beginners though if it encourages people to rush pieces to fast and they lose the musicality.

As said I take several months for a challenge pieces, often longer, but have simpler pieces that I can do in less 4 weeks. So I may learn about 15 pieces in the year. Make a 20 piece a year challenge - I will join ya bro smile x

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Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
gingko2 #2694277 12/04/17 06:12 PM
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Just my quick two cents and first post on pianoworld.com; I am approaching the piano as a lifelong amateur musician (primarily drums and guitar with just a smattering of clarinet) who at 45 is really tired of feeling like I've never quite achieved any level of proficiency on any single instrument. Attracting me to the piano is the fact that it is something of a clean slate for me, allowing me to approach the instrument the 'correct' way with the admitted single flaw being the absence of a teacher (not possible at this time...would jump on it in a heartbeat if the opportunity were ever viable).

My previous approaches with drums and guitar consist(ed) of learning riffs/tunes etc that were never consistent with my technical level on the instrument (leading to occasional elation but, more often, frustration and subsequent 'shelving' of aspirations for various periods), and my brain is really drawn to the graded piano repertoire...my sight-reading on piano is miles beyond what it has ever been on guitar (this may not be unique at all) after only a brief few months of diligent practice from a handful of method books and supplemental pieces. There are myriad other factors in picking the piano that relate to western musicology and the instrument's central role and wealth of masterwork-level repertoire...again adding to that sense that I'm part of something much bigger when I simply crack open a score and contemplate ever being able to play it.

The part that a teacher would bring (for me, anyhow) is the 'checking in' and 'keeping honest' aspects, and I think the 40 pieces notion fulfills this role fairly well IN ADDITION (and I can't emphasize this too much) to the sense of 'community' it would/will provide...this awareness that the ride isn't as lonely as it may feel at times (I was a music major for a couple of semesters WAY back and there is nothing like hearing a dozen or so musicians working in practice rooms...lugging instruments around etc). I'm personally looking forward to participating this coming year.


Ryan


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Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
gingko2 #2694307 12/04/17 09:57 PM
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Thanks for all the comments.

PianogrlNW: Yikes! I'm impressed you could keep up that pace even to May. I did not record my pieces as many in the club did. I would need more practice time. Ten pieces at a time would make me feel scattered too--but I could handle 4 or 5 at different levels.

Ralphiano: I can appreciate being forced to find lots of music for one's level. The pressure to do that is beneficial--also being forced to adopt better practice and learning habits.

sinophilia: I think you took the spirit of the challenge and made it work for you. No, I don't think you need the accountability. You're a self-teacher who seems really focused.

Anita: We "talked" in the other thread. Congratulations on your accomplishment. You make a good point about listening to others' recordings. Having that exposure to new music at our level is really valuable.


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Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
Moo :) #2694309 12/04/17 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88

I think for me better than "40 piece challenge" is "practice everyday, including sightreading and learning simple pieces". I like simple pieces, so it's actually a pleasure to work on them, as long as I'm thinking of it as "I'm enjoying learning to play this piece" rather than "this is a simple piece for the 40-piece challenge, so I ought to be able to play it right away."


This approach really makes sense to me, PianoStudent.

I initially was really psyched about the 40 piece challenge for lots of reasons mentioned here: improving sight-reading, getting exposed to different composers, developing some fluency, not getting obsessed about every piece. All good motivations. But I especially relate

Maybe for me the 40 pieces a year turns out to be not enough sight-reading and too many pieces to polish, even to a medium level. The point of the 40 piece challenge may be to push students to discover their own best pacing? Some people will prefer breadth to depth. Each group may need to explore the other direction.

I'm thinking for next year that I'll make "sight-reading" a separate practice category and do a 20 or fewer piece challenge. Actually I like the idea of some repertoire that can be worked to a decent level in a month (can I be the 3rd member of the one piece per month club?)

Originally Posted by Pianoperformance

1. Needed to be okay to play simpler pieces, as they in themselves provide a lot of technical,challenges
2. Learn when you are just not into it, and it is okay move on from a piece or two;
3. I proved new ways to practice, and practice really did mean practice;
4. Not a solo journey, if you have a teacher engage them fully in the project;
5. Let all the emotions come through when you play..it is actually very good for you..and then you can finish it.
6. Soon learn with many things impacting my life..it is totally okay to let some goals go, life is about coming back to it again if it means that much to you.


Pianoperformance, simpler pieces do present lots of technical challenges and provide good opportunities to apply efficient practice strategies. I'll copy your list.

Originally Posted by Moo :)
The 'challenge' becomes more difficult when you get more advanced as pieces are longer and harder - so it gets much harder to meet the challenge. It may even be counterproductive and put you off as you are not able to complete pieces fast enough for the 'challenge'.

For beginners a piece may only be half a page, so it is more doable 40 pieces, and can be a great motivator and can help sight reading. Not necessarily great for beginners though if it encourages people to rush pieces to fast and they lose the musicality.

As said I take several months for a challenge pieces, often longer, but have simpler pieces that I can do in less 4 weeks. So I may learn about 15 pieces in the year. Make a 20 piece a year challenge - I will join ya bro smile x


Agree with every here, Moo : ) I look back at my lists and previous years and I'm not happy with the outcome. I want to redo them and do them better.



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Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
gingko2 #2694314 12/04/17 10:15 PM
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Welcome to the forum, Ryan!

This place is amazing. There are a lot of very knowledgeable and helpful people here who will amaze you with the kindness they show in helping us less experienced beginners.

Read the forum.

Ask whatever questions come to mind.

Share what you know when the opportunity arises.

Be sure to check out the quarterly recitals, and the specialty recitals.

And, welcome to the 40 Pieces a Year Club.

Have fun and enjoy the journey! smile


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Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
gingko2 #2694319 12/04/17 10:22 PM
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I have joined for 2 years (3?). While I didn't make the 40, I really liked the effect on me; it has loosened up my learning style, not only in the easier pieces but also in harder pieces. I think it makes it easier to take on stretch pieces - things that may or may not get polished in the immediate future, but teach me something valuable - because I know I have a second "track" going on, where it's okay, in fact a given, to drop down to a level where I can expect myself to be able "finish" a piece. Maybe not polish it, but at least finish. I tend to get lax in record keeping, so I can't exactly prove it, but I have noticed that it's increasingly easy to allow myself to open an easy book, pick something, and learn it in a few days. In short, I use the challenge to get the balance between "inspiring stretch" and "have fun".

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Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
gingko2 #2694321 12/04/17 10:35 PM
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Stellaria, Really impressed with your focus and direction as a new piano student.
"needed to focus on skills and musicality as well as sight reading" I don't have so much even as an intermediate student. I just do what my teacher tells me (fortunately!)

PW is very encouraging and there are lots of good ideas here. I'm feeling much better about adapting the 40 Piece Challenge to my own situation.

MDropout, Welcome to Piano World. I don't post very much and maybe have only started a handful of threads--but I've certainly learned a lot by reading. Ralphiano says it very well.

I took a second look at this phrase "my brain is really drawn to the graded piano repertoire." Yes there is SO much piano literature and resources on levels and particular skills associated with individual pieces---one can really get lost in them.

OT I just started learning classical guitar (even though didn't want to dilute my piano time, got drawn into it) and am having the experience of the "clean slate." I have so much baggage with with piano years of not-so-good teachers that I'm curious to see what happens with a new instrument. Would be curious to hear some comparisons of the experiences of learning piano and learning guitar.


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Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
gingko2 #2694438 12/05/17 10:34 AM
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I really like the idea of the 40 piece challenge. I'm not sure if I'm going to make it this year. My progress on the list came to a screeching halt for two months while I prepared for an exam, and I've gotten off to a very slow start on grade 4, since life has been hectic. But I think the idea of playing a wider range of music is a very good one.

Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
sara elizabeth #2694453 12/05/17 11:16 AM
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I've been in the challenge for 3 years now. Starting at the mid to late Elementary level and progressing into Intermediate, this has been one of the motivating factors to keep me moving ahead. The issue I have now is that not only will I be "graduating" from the entire Faber Piano Adventures series, but the pieces I am now learning take at least several weeks to learn, and sometimes many more weeks to polish to the satisfaction of my teacher.

There is no way I will be able to properly learn basically one piece a week going into 2018, so this year will be my last.

I personally have benefited from this challenge, and for some folks it really be of great help.


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Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
gingko2 #2694468 12/05/17 11:56 AM
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I agree that the 40 piece challenge becomes much more difficult as you get into more advanced material. I have completed two years of the challenge, but this year it is a struggle. Like earlomar, I am doing graded exams. I am preparing for ABRSM 8 currently, and the practice required for sight reading, aural, technical work as well as pieces does not leave of time for bringing many other pieces to performance level. I have finally decided I need to stop beating myself up that I am not getting the challenge pieces recorded. I don't really want to do recordings that are not the best that I can do, but I do not have the time to do them well. So the 40 piece challenge has become a frustration for me. I see the value in it, especially at the beginning. I would do better with a 20 piece challenge, because even the pieces two grades below grade 8 require a good bit of work to bring them to performance level.

Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
gingko2 #2694469 12/05/17 11:57 AM
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I'm still in, tho I'm not going to make 40 this year.

But I used the 40 piece challenge creatively to meet my needs. One year I just went thru the index of a 1956 community songbook, and if I knew the title and could play the melody to the tune by ear on the piano then I figured out the chords by ear and either did a block chord backing or a simple backing of some kind and that was one piece. For learning more about hearing a tune and finding it on the piano it was invaluable.

I did something similar, but I don't remember what, the second year.

This year i decided to count a tune if it was in my repertoire but I had re-worked it some way - added a verse and not just the chorus, added runs or fills in the bass or treble, learned to play it with a little more improvisation on the fly, whatever. I won't make 40 this year for other reasons, but it's been a good deal for me.

I realize that if you're playing classical and can't change the notes it might be harder. But one could also reapproach a piece, or a piece of a piece, and re-do the dynamics, or the phrasing, or the tempo, or learn it by heart, or learn to look around and smile at the audience while playing, or any other piece of technique that could be improved.

For me, the idea is to use what I've learned or know in lots of different pieces so that it becomes more familiar in lots of different contexts, and to become more "at home" with the keyboard in lots of different contexts, which I suspect underlies the idea of 40 pieces in the first place.

So I'll probably do 40 pieces again next year, with some other small goal that will help my overall progress, and maybe the actual 40 will filter out as a by-product laugh I already have more than 40 pieces in my active repertoire (again, short old big band, turn of the last century, ragtime, etc - but that's what I play for the memory care/assisted living folks) so I have plenty to work on, but I'd love to have more and be able to take requests (that's what the by-ear is for). So it's useful for me. I suspect variations as I guessed above might be useful for classical players.

Maybe there's an in-between method-books and more experienced players for which the desire to polish, oh say, 12-pieces a year is more impelling. In fact, I'm sure there is, and that too is quite useful and desirable.

But I think the 40 piece challenge is pretty flexible and can be useful for a long time in to the future.

But I'll be following the 12-pieces thread to see how it goes! I tried that at one time, but I didn't ever make it laugh


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Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
gingko2 #2694514 12/05/17 03:04 PM
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Thanks so much for everyone's comments. They're really helpful.

This thread wasn't started to criticize the 40 Piece Challenge. The "Club" thread is just terrific with the accountability and sharing. I'd agree with all of you--Medved, sara elizabeth, BrianDX, SwissMs, jotur and others --who point to lots of benefits to the challenge: exposure to new music, loosening up and improving practice strategies, motivation etc. It's been helpful to get the exposure to all the new pieces in the last 3 years. And it's really impressive just how many members of the Club posted their recordings. It makes the thread a great resource.

For me, it's time for a change, though. I'm coming from a background where I feel former teachers let me play too many pieces badly. Now I'm interested in playing everything as well as I can. The last two years in my lessons I've found out how much is involved in playing "simple" pieces well. Lots more than I thought. I am thinking, once I feel more secure in technique (how many years?), there will be the time to look at learning lots of pieces and gaining some fluency. (Don't think I could ever have your fluency, Jotur--and you play in public!)

I like the spirit of the Challenge, and so I'll schedule general "reading" into my daily practice. I won't bother to write down the titles of pieces I just read. But then to get more pieces in my repertoire, at least to family and friends "performance" standard, I'll do 12 a year and see how that works (thanks cmb13).


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Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
gingko2 #2694520 12/05/17 03:24 PM
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I read how quite a lot of people quit the challenge once they get to an intermediate+ level, saying that it simply takes too long to learn pieces at that point. However, I thought the entire point of this challenge was to find and learn music that you could learn in a relatively short amount of time. If you're an early intermediate student, what's wrong with learning some grade 2 material? If you can't sight read it at tempo, there's probably something you can learn from it.


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

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Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
Keselo #2694533 12/05/17 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Keselo
I I thought the entire point of this challenge was to find and learn music that you could learn in a relatively short amount of time. If you're an early intermediate student, what's wrong with learning some grade 2 material? If you can't sight read it at tempo, there's probably something you can learn from it.

+1


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Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
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Originally Posted by Keselo
I I thought the entire point of this challenge was to find and learn music that you could learn in a relatively short amount of time. If you're an early intermediate student, what's wrong with learning some grade 2 material? If you can't sight read it at tempo, there's probably something you can learn from it.



You'll learn even more from it if you spend a month rather than a week.

For me, one month is a short period of time. We're all trying to find what works for us personally.


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Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
gingko2 #2694572 12/05/17 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by gingko2
Originally Posted by Keselo
I I thought the entire point of this challenge was to find and learn music that you could learn in a relatively short amount of time. If you're an early intermediate student, what's wrong with learning some grade 2 material? If you can't sight read it at tempo, there's probably something you can learn from it.



You'll learn even more from it if you spend a month rather than a week.

For me, one month is a short period of time.

I think you might be missing the point of the 40 piece challenge. The 40 piece challenge is not suppose to consume all of your time. And in some cases, spending too much time on one piece, whatever level, is counterproductive. This challenge is intended to get players to work with many pieces in a short amount of time. Hopefully, the end result is improved sight-reading and comfort at the piano.

I envision that someone should be able to take on the "40 piece challenge", the "one a month challenge", and the "one a quarter challenge" or the "recital challenge" without too much difficulty. Theoretically that is exactly what I was doing with my teacher. In fact, that may be a good goal for 2018. Maybe we start a new challenge, the "Chord Challenge" where you have to work toward all three challenges. Just thinking out loud here.


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Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
scorpio #2694608 12/05/17 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by scorpio

I think you might be missing the point of the 40 piece challenge. The 40 piece challenge is not suppose to consume all of your time. And in some cases, spending too much time on one piece, whatever level, is counterproductive. This challenge is intended to get players to work with many pieces in a short amount of time. Hopefully, the end result is improved sight-reading and comfort at the piano.

I envision that someone should be able to take on the "40 piece challenge", the "one a month challenge", and the "one a quarter challenge" or the "recital challenge" without too much difficulty. Theoretically that is exactly what I was doing with my teacher. In fact, that may be a good goal for 2018. Maybe we start a new challenge, the "Chord Challenge" where you have to work toward all three challenges. Just thinking out loud here.


I'm thinking the challenge should take up 10 minutes or so a day--really only a small part of regular daily practice. There's still the normal lesson tech stuff, etudes, and repertoire which fill out the time.

scorpio, do you really feel it's counterproductive to spend a long time on a select number of pieces? I think we can really learn a lot about musicality from putting in the months and hearing a piece lots of different ways. I'd agree it might be counterproductive or limited to ONLY do pieces that way. I think that's the point of the original 40 Piece a Year Challenge. Elissa Milne (https://elissamilne.wordpress.com/2015/09/27/40-piece-challenge-updates/) is actually pretty flexible about the number of pieces in the Challenge. Some people may want to do 20 or 60 or 100 pieces a year--it depends on their level and the selections of pieces.

I wrote before that I'd like to separate

1) sight-reading and reading new material and
2) working up a selection (12 to 20?) of new, simpler pieces.

I want to be quicker and less perfectionist (sloppier?) with reading and maybe read even more than 40 pieces in a year. At the same time work a little harder on monthly pieces to get them recordable. Right now I spend 6 months to a year on rep pieces--so one month is really a dash...

I think it's great to start other types of challenges. Mix it up, because it's impossible (at least for me) to do it all. I'd love to learn to play by ear a little and play chords from a fake book some time. They're not my top priorities but they're valuable skills. So much music....so little time.

Appreciate your comments and your work managing the 40 Piece Club thread. It's a great activity.


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Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
gingko2 #2694652 12/06/17 04:20 AM
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I think everyone has different goals with the 40 piece challenge. For me, it is not about sight reading at all. I do 15 minutes of pima vista sight reading at the required level for ABRSM grade 8 everyday. Those are not the pieces that I try to prepare for the 40 piece challenge. My original understanding of the challenge, was to spend 15-20 minutes on a piece each day for a week. At the end of the week, that piece is done. In reality, that did not work for me. I chose pieces 1-2 grades below my current grade and I had four challenge pieces going at a time, starting one each week. Some took the full month, some took a week. Simultaneously, I have four teacher assigned grade 8 pieces. As a result I have felt like I have not done as well with polishing the 40 piece challenge pieces. Yet, I have believed from the beginning that the 40 piece challenge is one of the best things that I do, because it exposes me to many different styles of music and different rhythm patterns. I am just feeling spread too thin right now..

The limitation for me, is recording the pieces. I do not like to put anything out there that does not sounds polished, and I cannot do that at my current level within a week. It takes time for a piece to settle in. I have done far more than 40 pieces this year, but a third of them were not "done" to my satisfaction. I did gain something from every piece I played though. So I like the idea of multiple "challenges". The quarterly recitals are great, the piece a month is a good idea, and I believe the 40 piece challenge also has its place. For me, I am going to take the focus off of recording, and still take part in the 40 piece challenge.

Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
gingko2 #2694658 12/06/17 05:19 AM
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Bringing all 40 pieces to performance level and get good recordings of each of them would be too much for me - especially because, as we all know, the polishing phase might take much longer than the actual learning. I tried to record at least half of the pieces in the first two years of the challenge, even if they weren't completely polished, but this year I have only recorded a few long-term pieces. I am aware that I should record myself more, but not in view of sharing or keeping these performances, only for myself, to identify problems and mistakes that might otherwise go unnoticed. If a decent recording comes out of these sessions, good; if not, I won't beat myself up about it.

There are still so many things that I need to learn, that I can't stop for too long on a single issue. I have to be confident that with time I will get better at many different skills and techniques. If the goal of an etude is to practice RH sixths, I might very well let it go as soon as I feel that that technique is learned, even if I can't play the entire piece fluently with both hands. Most tempos in the RCM books are so crazy that I would need to memorise the piece to be able to bring it up to tempo, but why would I do that for a throw-away etude? I feel that there's only so much room in my brain at any given time!

So I think it's right that everyone adapts the challenge to their own needs and goals. The idea of learning a lot of pieces at many different levels remains excellent.

Re: Your thoughts on "40 Pieces a Year" Challenge?
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Originally Posted by keselo
I thought the entire point of this challenge was to find and learn music that you could learn in a relatively short amount of time.
Yes, it's the same for me. I read about the 40 piece challenge shortly after Elissa Milne and Hal Leonard published it and was using a version of it before it became popular in the ABF. My weekly fodder seldom consumes as much as five minutes a day. I have found, since adopting this initiative, that the first week with a new piece is no longer such a demanding process and I believe I learn all my pieces more quickly as a result.

I find the first week of learning a new piece the hardest. It requires reading, fingering, usually some analysis, defining the phrasing, finding patterns, becoming familiar with the music and getting to the point where my memory begins to take over from much of the detailed reading. It used to take more than a week to get comfortable with new pieces but now I find the bases are covered and most of the pennies have dropped by day three.

These skills aren't exercised with pieces that are practised week after week and if they aren't used frequently they deteriorate. Starting new material every week or so is an important part of my ongoing development.

My experience tells me how much I can take on in a week and get it to a reasonable level in only five or ten days. Most of the sonatinas I tackle are done up to the repeat bar in the first week and from the repeat bar the next. I don't get many of them to a finished level, as finishing, for me, means repeatability and things that need time to settle so I only get them to a point where I can play them reasonably competently from the score.

If I want to take them further I can add them as a second piece over subsequent weeks. They only need another two minutes a day after the first week (or they've not been well chosen) so spending a month on each piece is only an extra six minutes a day. Most of the pieces I choose don't deserve the extra time away from bigger things. I have recital and repertoire pieces queued up that will exercise my finishing skills.

I have also added some gems to my repertoire, typically three to seven grades below my current level, that I would never have looked at had it not been for this initiative.

40 pieces a year is four pieces at three months each, ten to thirty minutes a day, twelve pieces at one month each, five to twenty minutes a day, and 24 smaller pieces, absenting a week each for Christmas and Easter or a summer holiday away, done one per fortnight, two to ten minutes a day.


Richard
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