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Joined: Jun 2017
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Hi Everyone,

This is more of a question out of just boredom and curiosity (and a way to share some of what we learned wink ). But what's the longest time you've ever spent learning a single piece? Right now, I'm learning the Chopin Scherzo 2, and I've been at it for nearly 2 months, and am currently on the Coda (at long last!). I thought it would take me much less time to learn it, but this really opened my eyes and made me face the reality that my strengths and weaknesses were not what I thought they would be.

However, the longest time I have spent learning a piece thus far is probably about 3 years now on the revolutionary etude, a piece that I learn, then take a hiatus from, and then come back to time and time again. The first time I learned it, I faced a similar scenario to the one that I faced with the Scherzo, but doing this piece repeatedly over time has really helped me to develop my left hand, as prior to when I started it, my left hand was severely lacking compared to my right (now not so much, but I still have lots to improve).

Let me know the longest time you've ever spent on a piece! I'm curious to also know how you changed after the experience vs. before it (unless you're still learning it of course, in which case let me know what you've learned thus far).

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It took me a year to be able to play Chopin's Ballade No. 4 in F minor and two years to learn it and three years to master it. The challenge was 100% worth while.

Steve


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I've been trying to play the Hammerklavier for a decade and I still can't. Admittedly, I don't practice.


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4 years for Franck’s Prelude, Chorale and Fugue. 1 year each for first two movements,2 for third. It was too hard for me but I managed to perform it anyway.

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Learning and practicing are pretty different. I've spent probably 700 hours on Chopin op.10 no.4 and 1000 on op.25 no.6, but I learned the notes in only a few days.

The most time I've spent learning the notes is for Rach 1. The first movement took me 7 months, working on it everyday. I'd say most of that was necessary just for memorization, though it could've gone a bit faster if my technique were better. By the time I worked on the third movement, my technique had improved, so it took I want to say around 4 months. So about 1 year, over an hour a day, just learning the notes.

I have a feeling the Medtner op.53 no.1 I'm working on now is going to beat that. I've given it probably a total of 1 month of solid practice, and I have maybe 5 pages memorized -_-

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Learning the piece or mastering it? For learning I think it would be Chopins etude op. 10 no. 1 which took me several months of hard work until I could play it with only a few missed arpeggios. To compare, the paganini rhapsody took me about two weeks to learn... (with an insane amount of practicing) Thats how hard that etude was for me.

For mastering a piece, I think that would probably be Beethoven's 31st piano sonata which after about 1 and a half years still doesn't feel close to being mastered.

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As things look from this perspective, a lifetime isn't going to be enough!

Cheers!


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Back in the day, I worked on the pieces for my university senior recital from September through May. My (memorized) program consisted of these works:

J.S. Bach Prelude & Fugue No. 5 in D Major (WTC Book 1)
Beethoven Sonata No. 18 Op. 31, No. 3
Chopin Grande Valse brillante Op. 18
Chopin Preludes Op. 28, Nos. 15, 17, 18
Liszt Valse oubliee No. 1
Debussy Reflets dans l'eau
Debussy Jardins sous la pluie

For a long time, that had been the longest (eight months) that I'd ever spent preparing any piece or group of pieces for performance, because after that, I didn't do any solo piano performing for something like 25 years.

Now that I'm back to performing -- at my more advanced age wink -- it takes me longer to prepare pieces from memory. (And sometimes I use music. I play in piano concerts with other local pianists about three times a year, and most don't memorize.)

But to get back to the original question about the longest time ever spent learning a piece, I just broke my old record of eight months from my university years by spending about ten months preparing to perform Schubert's Fantasie in F Minor, Op. 103 with my duet partner. I started working alone on the primo last June, and, with the exception of one meet-up with my partner last October, I spent about seven months in studying my own part, and then added in three months of sessions with my duet partner about once or twice a week from January to early April of this year.

We performed it (with music) on April 7, and got a standing ovation -- the first one either or both of us had ever gotten.

I would say the time we spent on it was worth it. smile We love the piece so much, we plan to perform it again in a recital next year.

How did that experience with the duet change me? Well, I'd say it helped me see the value of maintaining a work after a performance is finished, and using the work again in the future, rather than preparing for performance after performance, never to return to anything previously performed. There's value in keeping repertoire alive, or revisiting it for future performances, rather than starting over with something new each time one performs.


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