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practicing in a public place
#2778123 11/04/18 04:46 PM
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Because I no longer have a piano of my own, I have been practicing at a piano store that has been kind enough to let me sit around and play for an hour or so each day when there aren't clients looking to play. But I feel like I get self-conscious about the people listening when I play. Has anyone else had this experience? (e.g., playing on a public piano in a college dorm's common room, playing at a store, playing at a street piano)

I feel like I worry about whether I am boring or irritating the audience if I practice in public, which makes me self-conscious about playing a phrase repeatedly for technique, or playing in unrecognizably slow tempos, or playing one piece for too long.

For example, I have been working on Chopin's Etude No. 1 in C (waterfall) for the last two months, and even though after a few minutes I get absorbed into the practicing and stop thinking about others, I've had some employees come up to me and ask me if I'm thinking of learning other pieces. And now, I can't help but think whether I need to vary what I play to make sure I don't annoy other people who have to listen to me. I feel torn between using the hour I have to practice the etude I'm focusing on (it's at a particularly annoying stage of development where it's no longer being played so slow that it sounds harmonically soothing, as if I'm playing Bach's C Major prelude, nor technically flawless enough to sound beautifully clear like those concert pianists who are able to play without fuddled notes at 176 bpm, and practice largely consists of repeating arpeggio patterns to improve accuracy and endurance, playing only a handful measures for most of the hour, and slowly ticking up a few bpms each day), and feeling self-conscious about whether I should be mixing in other pieces that are.... well, more crowdpleasing. My guess is that I still have a few months to go before the Etude is truly performance ready and up to speed (currently at 120 bpm), so I'd like to keep on working on it, but I feel sorry whenever people joke about me playing the same piece, day after day. (And yes, I guess I do really feel like a one-trick pony because I have a style of practice where I tend to work on one piece at a time, aside from a few quick sight-reading warmups.)

Anyone have any advice about how to practice in a public place? What would you do in my situation? Thanks for the advice!

Last edited by pianoincognito; 11/04/18 04:47 PM.

Currently Working On:
Liszt La Campanella, Bach Italian Concerto, Debussy Reflets dans L'Eau
Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

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Practice Journal of Progress & Performance: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_gFNyVrmKptZF0zf3_A1Jw/
Re: practicing in a public place
pianoincognito #2778144 11/04/18 05:20 PM
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I would definitely look for a private practice room where ever you might be able to find one, or a piano in a public space that is not being used when you need to practice. Such a venue might be a church hall or community centre. Are you in a city large enough to have space where you could rent practice time on a piano, a University music department, for example?

I think that most of us would become self-conscious about practicing in a public space which is quite different from pleasantly playing through pieces in such a venue. The risk of boring or annoying the staff of the store, resulting in becoming self-conscious about your practicing, will inevitably affect your technique and your practice in general

As generous as the store has been towards you, I would think that you might soon wear out your welcome and you might have to find another piano on which to practice. I would suggest you start looking now.

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Re: practicing in a public place
pianoincognito #2778156 11/04/18 05:38 PM
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I agree with Bruce as I don’t see how you can have good practices in this environment: can you repeat one measure super-slowly or in dotted rhythms multiple times? Can you practice HS when needed?

If not. you need a different environment long-term. I practice publicly When I am out of town, but I wouldn’t call it true practice. I just play what I’m working on all the way through without stopping and take mental notes of what I need to work out when I get home

I’m so impressed with what you are doing to play again!👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻


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Re: practicing in a public place
BruceD #2778170 11/04/18 06:05 PM
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Good advice... Yeah, it's definitely not ideal and it's always a fear of mine that they'll cut me off at some point!

I live in Bucharest. It's definitely a big city but I haven't had much success finding a more private place to play. I asked some professional musician friends about whether there is piano practice space for rent, and they confirmed that there really isn't something like that here, and that one even looked for a piano practice room for five years in the city without much luck.

When I used to live in the US, I'd rely on churches and community centers, but churches here tend to be orthodox, where music is sung without any instruments, and the smaller evangelical churches where they'd use musical instruments tend to be too small to have invested in something extravagant like a piano. (Some have portable keyboards.)

I guess my next hope would be trying a conservatory practice room, but I have heard that there are not enough pianos to go around even for the registered students to play more than a few hours a day, and sign-up lists are always full... So, I think my chances of fitting myself in are probably low.

Does anyone have an acquaintance in Bucharest who happens to have a piano at home?? :3

In any case, I will keep on playing with what I have for as long as I have, and whether it lasts a while or only for a bit, I am grateful for the chance to play again!


Currently Working On:
Liszt La Campanella, Bach Italian Concerto, Debussy Reflets dans L'Eau
Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

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Practice Journal of Progress & Performance: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_gFNyVrmKptZF0zf3_A1Jw/
Re: practicing in a public place
pianoincognito #2778176 11/04/18 06:15 PM
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Have you tried the music schools that predominantly teach children? You might be able to arrange a practice room during ‘school hours’ when they are unused

Re: practicing in a public place
pianoincognito #2778179 11/04/18 06:21 PM
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Thanks for the encouragement! laugh I do feel really grateful about the chance to play again. My kid-self never knew how good she had it when she skipped those days of practice, haha...

Hmm... I didn't think about reaching out to music schools for children... Surely some of them have some good pianos and wouldn't be as much of a crowded field as a conservatory somewhere. Thanks for this idea!

Last edited by pianoincognito; 11/04/18 06:22 PM. Reason: responding to a later comment

Currently Working On:
Liszt La Campanella, Bach Italian Concerto, Debussy Reflets dans L'Eau
Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hannachung01/
Practice Journal of Progress & Performance: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_gFNyVrmKptZF0zf3_A1Jw/
Re: practicing in a public place
pianoincognito #2778379 11/05/18 12:17 PM
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Like others have said, I wouldn’t keep playing the same piece for the whole hour, day after day when playing in public - whether in a showroom or anywhere else. At least if you have a few other pieces, your ‘audience’ might enjoy your practicing.

The last time I had such access to a ‘public’ piano 🎹 (two weeks on a cruise ship 🛳 on the bar piano), I didn’t play the same piece twice on the same day, and they were all pieces that were in my performing rep - I was conscious that even though the bar wasn’t officially open during the day, other passengers do pop in and listen, and I didn’t want to risk the staff’s goodwill in letting me play by a passenger making a snide comment about my ‘practicing’.


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Re: practicing in a public place
pianoincognito #2778403 11/05/18 01:44 PM
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Last year I was on a cruise for 10 days. I saw a piano and I asked the performer if it's OK for me to play. He said OK. I was traveling with a group so our group leader gathered a few members together. I played 2-3 pieces and it was well received. Later I ran into the entertainer and he said I could play more if I wanted to. Other passengers also asked me if I planed to play more because they enjoyed it very much. I did not do it again though - I was not going to do his job at his work hour while he was the one who got paid. Also, it was a little weird playing directly facing the people (like piano bar) when everyone was staring at me.

Lesson learned: Always have least 2-3 pieces ready to perform at any time. Have a few pieces that are audience friendly (I played Liszt Liebestraum) Chopin Nocturne 9-2 is another good one. I am learning Gershwin/Wild Embraceable you - that would be a good one too.

Re: practicing in a public place
pianoincognito #2778559 11/05/18 09:04 PM
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I would distinguish between practice and rehearsal.

Practice is no fun for anyone to listen to -- drilling the same phrase over and over, playing extremely slowly, etc.

Rehearsal is trying to play a piece exactly as you want to perform it. Only it won't be perfect, and you'll want to make note of the areas that need work. In rehearsal, you want to recover from your mistakes and keep going.

Rehearsal is fine to do in public. There'll be a few mistakes, but people will enjoy it. For practice, it would be better to get a digital and do it with headphones.


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Re: practicing in a public place
JohnSprung #2778693 11/06/18 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung
For practice, it would be better to get a digital and do it with headphones.

I realize the OP lives in Hungary, but are digital pianos too expensive there? I read through this thread wondering why it took so long for someone to suggest a digital.

Re: practicing in a public place
Steve Chandler #2778699 11/06/18 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve Chandler
Originally Posted by JohnSprung
For practice, it would be better to get a digital and do it with headphones.

I realize the OP lives in Hungary, but are digital pianos too expensive there? I read through this thread wondering why it took so long for someone to suggest a digital.


Her original ‘tell us about yourself post’ states she does not have room for an 88 key digital at home

Re: practicing in a public place
JohnSprung #2778873 11/06/18 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Midlife_Piano


Lesson learned: Always have least 2-3 pieces ready to perform at any time. Have a few pieces that are audience friendly (I played Liszt Liebestraum) Chopin Nocturne 9-2 is another good one. I am learning Gershwin/Wild Embraceable you - that would be a good one too.



Originally Posted by JohnSprung


Rehearsal is fine to do in public. There'll be a few mistakes, but people will enjoy it. For practice, it would be better to get a digital and do it with headphones.




Good suggestions... I guess for now, the employees have been awfully nice to let me "practice," but I guess I should go on the digital piano in the store in headphones and learn some pieces well enough to "rehearse." Because I've had a year of hiatus since starting up again, I've been trying to get some pieces to the point of being rehearsable. Thanks @Midlife_Piano for suggesting some audience-friendly pieces.

Working on Chopin's Etude #1 has been unpleasant for all, I'm sure, because it's a lot of playing the same stuff over and over again until my technique inches its way to what it's supposed to be. But at the same time, I have no other way of practicing that piece because the touch and tension on digital pianos isn't the same and that does seem to start making a difference at higher speeds for me.


Currently Working On:
Liszt La Campanella, Bach Italian Concerto, Debussy Reflets dans L'Eau
Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hannachung01/
Practice Journal of Progress & Performance: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_gFNyVrmKptZF0zf3_A1Jw/
Re: practicing in a public place
pianoincognito #2778875 11/06/18 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by Steve Chandler
Originally Posted by JohnSprung
For practice, it would be better to get a digital and do it with headphones.

I realize the OP lives in Hungary, but are digital pianos too expensive there? I read through this thread wondering why it took so long for someone to suggest a digital.


Her original ‘tell us about yourself post’ states she does not have room for an 88 key digital at home


I live in Romania, but yeah I share a pretty cramped apartment, and on my salary it'll be a while until I can afford a quality digital. But I guess that would be my backup plan if I run out of good graces at the piano store. :P


Currently Working On:
Liszt La Campanella, Bach Italian Concerto, Debussy Reflets dans L'Eau
Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hannachung01/
Practice Journal of Progress & Performance: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_gFNyVrmKptZF0zf3_A1Jw/
Re: practicing in a public place
pianoincognito #2778884 11/07/18 01:07 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoincognito
I share a pretty cramped apartment,

The nice thing about digitals is that they can be very portable. You could put it on an X-stand when playing and when done, just fold the stand and store the keyboard vertically in a closet. They really don't need to take space except when you are actively playing it, which is usually workable (unless your apartment is really cramped).


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Re: practicing in a public place
pianoincognito #2779012 11/07/18 04:25 PM
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Probably won't help you very much , but I have been to Bucharest recently on a business trip : there was a Piano shop on Calea Victoriei, that let me play for an hour or so - was called Muzic magazinul, or or something similar - don't remember precisely.

Of course, I don't go there to practice every day...

Re: practicing in a public place
pianoincognito #2779029 11/07/18 05:13 PM
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Off topic a bit - but is the Chopin Etude really the only piece you've been playing over the past two months? I can understand why the folks at the music store are getting a tad weary of it. Why not add a couple of easier contrasting pieces to the mix - to develop other aspects of your technique and interpretive skills and expand your repertoire? I bet by dong so you'll also start to make better progress on the Etude.


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Re: practicing in a public place
Carey #2779045 11/07/18 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by almo82
Probably won't help you very much , but I have been to Bucharest recently on a business trip : there was a Piano shop on Calea Victoriei, that let me play for an hour or so - was called Muzic magazinul, or or something similar - don't remember precisely.

Of course, I don't go there to practice every day...


Actually, I know that store, and I play at their sister site just down the street, which has more pianos. So, yeah, that's actually exactly what I do!

Originally Posted by Carey
Off topic a bit - but is the Chopin Etude really the only piece you've been playing over the past two months? I can understand why the folks at the music store are getting a tad weary of it. Why not add a couple of easier contrasting pieces to the mix - to develop other aspects of your technique and interpretive skills and expand your repertoire? I bet by dong so you'll also start to make better progress on the Etude.


Yeah, that's what I'm starting to do. I only have an hour to play each day for about three or four days out of the week, so I wanted to get as much practice of the etude in as I could, (i hate that feeling of losing the progress I made over the week on the days I can't play, or when an hour is barely enough to maintain the progress I've made)'but I guess practical considerations may have to win out here, as far as trying to stay on everyone's good side.

On that note, I'd love some suggestions on what pleasant easy pieces I could play. (I already asked the adult beginner forum and learned Satie's Nocturne 3.)


Currently Working On:
Liszt La Campanella, Bach Italian Concerto, Debussy Reflets dans L'Eau
Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hannachung01/
Practice Journal of Progress & Performance: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_gFNyVrmKptZF0zf3_A1Jw/
Re: practicing in a public place
pianoincognito #2779064 11/07/18 06:37 PM
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Yes - I know the other shop - they have a Bosendorfer concert grand near the Entrance - they even let me play it!

Re: practicing in a public place
pianoincognito #2779068 11/07/18 06:47 PM
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Since the other repertoire on your Youtube is much easier than this etude, my thought is that this piece is not a good pedagogical choice at this time. I think it's especially a mistake to devote so much time to it.

Re: practicing in a public place
pianoloverus #2781017 11/14/18 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Since the other repertoire on your Youtube is much easier than this etude, my thought is that this piece is not a good pedagogical choice at this time. I think it's especially a mistake to devote so much time to it.


Hey, thanks for the advice, but I play the other pieces for sightreading practice and just as a service for people who look for recordings of beginner pieces, so I don't consider them a reflection of my current ability.

I'm not playing it purely for a pedagogical choice, but to see how much I can push myself to getting a piece up to a quality level that I'm satisfied with. So, when I usually work on a "bigger" piece, I usually work on it for several months at a time. When I used to do competitions, I'd rarely work on a piece for less than 4 months, for example, so working on a piece for two or three months is normal for me. (Especially if I'm only practicing an hour or two a couple of time a week these days, instead of three to six hours a day as I used to do.)

Last edited by pianoincognito; 11/14/18 06:28 PM.

Currently Working On:
Liszt La Campanella, Bach Italian Concerto, Debussy Reflets dans L'Eau
Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hannachung01/
Practice Journal of Progress & Performance: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_gFNyVrmKptZF0zf3_A1Jw/
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