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40 pieces a yr? #2742664
06/06/18 08:01 PM
06/06/18 08:01 PM
Joined: Oct 2017
Posts: 68
Charleston SC
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NuggetSC Offline OP

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NuggetSC  Offline OP

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Charleston SC
Hello guys,

My tipical piano routine is the traditional approach of working on 2 pieces at a time until the songs are fairly polished. These takes me about 3-4 weeks. At this rate, i would probably do 12-15 songs at my lv in 40 weeks.

The main problem with this is that after 5 days or so, i stop sight reading and muscle memory starts taking completely over, so out of those weeks, a short period of time i am actually sight reading.

I was reading about the 40 pieces a yr challenge. That works out to about 1 piece a week minus holydays and so on. This probably keeps you sight reading all along since you dont give your muscle memory a chance to interfere.

I am interested in hearing your opinion with regard to sight reading improvements relative to the traditional routine and overall feedback of the challenge.

Thanks

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Re: 40 pieces a yr? [Re: NuggetSC] #2742674
06/06/18 08:31 PM
06/06/18 08:31 PM
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bennevis Online content
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The term 'sight-reading' only applies to the first time you read through a piece. Not any subsequent times, even if you couldn't play a note of it again without the score.

All subsequent readings are not sight-reading: you will have remembered a few aspects of the piece, even if only the rhythmic quirks here & there, or the last chord.

Therefore, if you are playing 40 pieces a year and nothing else, you're sight-reading forty times only in one year.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: 40 pieces a yr? [Re: NuggetSC] #2742680
06/06/18 08:50 PM
06/06/18 08:50 PM
Joined: Oct 2017
Posts: 68
Charleston SC
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NuggetSC Offline OP

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NuggetSC  Offline OP

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Charleston SC
Yes of course but throughout the first 3-5 days or so you force to read the notes for 90% of the score so you are praticing significantly a lot more sight reading. You are forced to read the notes with exemption that you might remember subtle details here and there.

Re: 40 pieces a yr? [Re: NuggetSC] #2742681
06/06/18 08:59 PM
06/06/18 08:59 PM
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bennevis Online content
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Originally Posted by NuggetSC
Yes of course but throughout the first 3-5 days or so you force to read the notes for 90% of the score so you are praticing significantly a lot more sight reading.

You're cementing the association between the notes in the score and the keys you play, but you're not sight-reading anymore.

You're reading from the score, and getting more of the notes into your muscle memory. So, you're still helping your reading skills until the time when you're so familiar with the music that you're only using the score as an aide-mémoir.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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Re: 40 pieces a yr? [Re: NuggetSC] #2742684
06/06/18 09:21 PM
06/06/18 09:21 PM
Joined: Jul 2017
Posts: 439
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Moo :) Offline
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I think having two pieces at a time is good, I sometimes have three, is a very good way to progress.

Generally my 'sight reading' skills is mostly gained from picking through books and try to play it. A lot of my time is playing like this.

I'm not really a fan of playing loads of pieces mediocre so I would not recommend trying to play loads of pieces, especially as said it is not really 'sight reading' skills that you are improving.

Re: 40 pieces a yr? [Re: NuggetSC] #2742787
06/07/18 10:50 AM
06/07/18 10:50 AM
Joined: Aug 2016
Posts: 39
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paxel Offline
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The 40 pieces/year challenge needs at least 3 pieces at the same time and/ore more weeks. (Unless they are very short or easy, but in this case the "challenge" is not taken).
You may consider the 30 pieces challenge, it seems to me more common nowadays. These "challenges" are very good to improve, but sight reading will be only a side effect. Google: piano 30 pieces challenge
For sight reading you may consider specific books.

Re: 40 pieces a yr? [Re: NuggetSC] #2742819
06/07/18 12:43 PM
06/07/18 12:43 PM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 1,414
Florida
cmb13 Offline
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cmb13  Offline
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Posts: 1,414
Florida
While it may not be sight reading after the first time, it certainly helps in learning to read as bennevis said, until the point is reached where you're not relying on the score much. I'm sure the 40 piece challenge will improve your reading; I don't do it b/c of time constraints. I only have so much time, and I'd prefer to learn some pieces that I love well then many pieces not as well.

While I'd love to be a better sight reader, or at least a better reader, my method is helping those goals somewhat while helping me build up a repertoire appropriate for my level, so it works for me. I had proposed a "piece a month" a while back, and tried to stick with it, but it's more like 6 / year. To supplement that, I just picked up the Bergmuller opus (beginner to intermediate) to play through on some free time, just as a little supplement.


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Re: 40 pieces a yr? [Re: NuggetSC] #2742828
06/07/18 01:21 PM
06/07/18 01:21 PM
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 3,671
Ireland (ex England)
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zrtf90 Offline
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Joined: Feb 2012
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Ireland (ex England)
There are a few ideas behind the quantity approach and one of them is that starting more pieces improves reading, expands horizons, speeds up the learning process and increases the enjoyment.

It may be that after 5 days you're no longer reading the music but even after one time you are no longer processing it - translating it mentally from score to sound in your head. When you've heard it, even just once, the translation process comes to a close. Prima vista sight-reading is concerned with the first time only. Reading after that tends to be just following the score a few times, no longer looking at each individual note, and soon thereafter to just using the score as a series of waypoints and taking in perhaps one or more phrases at a time.

There are other things going on when you first start a new piece, too. Getting to know the music as sound, sorting out the fingering, shaping the phrases, once most of this work is done the rest of your practise of it is largely repetition and repetitious. While polishing is important, it's doing precious little for your musicianship if there's nothing else going on.

The number of pieces is arbitrary and reflects an average of one piece a week over an academic year. The process is more important. I use SMART practise:
Sight-reading and quick studies
Memorising
Aural work
Repertoire
Technique

You might include one or two new lines each day to work on just for that day. Analyse it, audiate it, sight-read it, scan and check it again then play it through slowly following the full text.

For quick studies, the bulk of the 40-piece challenge, take a piece, passage or page that will take you a week or two and spend a few minutes on it every day doing analysis, audiation, fingering, phrasing, memorising, technical work and so on as best you can in the time then move on. It shouldn't take more than two or three minutes per piece and you can interleave them with your main repertoire in addition to, or instead of, scales and such. You only have to take the pieces to a point where you solved the problems and are only leaving repetitive work trying to develop facility and consistency.

Try to include some aural work such as audiation, playing by ear, improvising - freestyle or variations, harmonising or composition.

Then get to one or two non-contiguous sections from each of your current repertoire pieces and do your regular daily stint at them, maybe five or ten minutes each.

Choose one piece that you've already completed and play it through as a performance, perhaps recording it.

Finally, take a look at some exercises or studies to improve weak areas in your playing that won't be as demanding mentally.

Before you finish the session, briefly go over once again the passages from your current repertoire pieces that you worked on that day and, if practical, do that again before you go to bed.


Richard
Re: 40 pieces a yr? [Re: NuggetSC] #2742855
06/07/18 03:38 PM
06/07/18 03:38 PM
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 1,543
Warsaw, Poland
Qazsedcft Offline
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Warsaw, Poland
One piece a week is an average. You can overlap them so that each piece takes, e.g. 3 weeks but you finish one every week and pick a new one in its place. Of course, that means you have several pieces at the same time but they are supposed to be much easier than your current repertoire. The "challenge" is not in the difficulty of the pieces but in the difficulty of keeping up a fast pace of learning. It's about focusing on solving the problems and moving on as Richard pointed out above.

And now, for those who think this is a new fad here is a quote from Czerny about his student Franz Liszt:

"Since I made him learn each piece very rapidly he finally became such an expert sight reader that he was capable of sight reading compositions of considerable difficulty and so perfectly as though he had been studying them for a long time."


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Re: 40 pieces a yr? [Re: NuggetSC] #2742966
06/08/18 07:00 AM
06/08/18 07:00 AM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 3,264
Australia
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earlofmar Offline
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Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 3,264
Australia
I took the forty piece challenge for close to three years, at which point I quit to start working on a few issues and start taking exams. I don't think it improved my sight reading, (still quite poor in that area), but do not regret the time spent. I had only been playing for just over a year when I started and was taken aback by how an apparently simple piece could be so difficult to learn. So the main benefit was an exposure to lots of pieces and being able to concentrate on technical developement but leave the piece as soon as the required lesson was learned.

I daresay that such a challenge will benefit people for different reasons at all stages of their journey, and may well be a great sight reading device for some.


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

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Re: 40 pieces a yr? [Re: NuggetSC] #2742975
06/08/18 08:18 AM
06/08/18 08:18 AM
Joined: Feb 2016
Posts: 1,512
Orange County, California
bSharp(C)yclist Offline
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Orange County, California
I like the 40 piece challenge because it helps me to read a wide variety of music, instead of polishing a handful a year. There is plenty of easy music to use for this purpose. My reading is certainly better than what it used to be and I can learn pieces faster, but I'll never be put into a situation where someone will hand me a piece of music and I'm expected to play it perfectly the first time. So I don't practice for that purpose. I have plenty of music lying around, so I'll find random 4 bar sets or logical phrases and see if I can play just that. I look at the music and think about what it will sound like in my head, and then try to play it. I think this is a good way to start your practice session, before diving into your repertoire work.


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Re: 40 pieces a yr? [Re: NuggetSC] #2744244
06/13/18 09:12 PM
06/13/18 09:12 PM
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 38
Ontario, Canada
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lizzie3 Offline
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I started the 40 a year this year and at my pace I will likely learn 40-45 by the end of the year. It takes me 2-3 weeks to learn a piece and typically I start 1 piece per week. I find keeping a running tally of my finished pieces is very motivating and gives me something to be proud of. I do see an improvement in my sight reading skills, in particular when I have a large jump and have to identify the note without the help of an interval. I still have a long way to go in this area but one step at a time.


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