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Re: Interleaved practice [Re: elenmirie] #2813137
02/10/19 04:04 PM
02/10/19 04:04 PM
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I would find this method counter productive and I would actiuslly find this kind of practice stressful. My own experience is that if you want to perform well you need to relax. To make yourself ‘very franktic’ in your words by forcing small fragments to time may make it worse. It would at least for me.

To help relax when playing Video recording is helpful and listening to it is the most helpful. It was suggested to me by my teacher but This is what helped me the most. Playing for others is also good. You get less stressed the more you do it. Playing and making mistakes is also good. Entering online recital here is a good option.

I tend to make many fewer mistames when relaxed. If you get very stressed when make mistakes then maybe download mindfulness. But in my opinion a practice method that makes you very stressed in practice is not that likely to be helpful.

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Re: Interleaved practice [Re: elenmirie] #2813147
02/10/19 04:36 PM
02/10/19 04:36 PM
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Moo, I think you mis-understand the concept, it’s not meant to stress you out while you practice. When you practice something over and over again you fall into a type of cruise control where you are not mentally fully engaged. You can do the repetitions, maybe even without mistakes and this seems like you are making progress but you are making much less progress than you think because your mind is not fully engaged.

As an example, if you wanted to learn the capital of all the 50 states and you started with Illinois and repeated that the capital is Springfield 50 times, this would be super easy because the the information is right at the forefront of your memory. But, your brain isn’t working very hard, it doesn’t need to, how hard is it to say Springfield is the capital of Illinois over and over again, and that’s the problem. With this type of repetition your mind doesn’t need to work very hard, it actually can work on autopilot and this prevents deep long term learning. It would be much more beneficial to repeat a few times and then move on to other states and then come back to Illinois. Doing this forces your brain to actually work to retrieve the information since it’s no longer at the forefront, and this work is what develops longer term, deeper learning. This is the idea behind interleaving.


It’s never too late to be what you might have been. -George Eliot
Re: Interleaved practice [Re: elenmirie] #2813154
02/10/19 04:56 PM
02/10/19 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by elenmirie
I have long believed, based on some considerable evidence, that the psychological aspects of music are the difference that makes the difference between a musician that is technically good and one that is compelling (technically good plus).
I think that musical understanding is the other part that that determine how great a pianist is. I see psychology as helping with things like the pressure of performing.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 02/10/19 04:59 PM.
Re: Interleaved practice [Re: zrtf90] #2813174
02/10/19 05:38 PM
02/10/19 05:38 PM
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How do you deal with virtuoso piece with significant technical demand?
Chopin etude 10.12 or Liszt mazeppa

Re: Interleaved practice [Re: John305] #2813209
02/10/19 06:57 PM
02/10/19 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by John305
[...] When you practice something over and over again you fall into a type of cruise control where you are not mentally fully engaged. You can do the repetitions, maybe even without mistakes and this seems like you are making progress but you are making much less progress than you think because your mind is not fully engaged.
[...]


I am not sure who the "you" is in this statement, but I don't think that all should be tarred with the same brush. Many of us are very conscious of the dangers of mindlessly repeating passages, so we don't; we find different ways of practicing a passage that keep our minds on the task at hand. Many of us are also very mindful of being focused and engaged, and we stop for a breather or a change of pace when that focus begins to falter.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Interleaved practice [Re: elenmirie] #2813216
02/10/19 07:10 PM
02/10/19 07:10 PM
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It would be quite tiresome to have to fill a post with caveats and disclaimers. Bruce I didn’t intend to “tar” anyone with a brush. Maybe this type of practice isn’t for everyone and I don’t claim to have come up with it, I’m simply trying to add to the conversation about interleaved practice. Maybe you won’t give my opinion any credibility but what about Noa Kageyama Ph.D. or the other professionals who have done research into this topic? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by your post, you are the self proclaimed curmudgeon after all.

Last edited by John305; 02/10/19 07:14 PM.

It’s never too late to be what you might have been. -George Eliot
Re: Interleaved practice [Re: John305] #2813226
02/10/19 07:40 PM
02/10/19 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by John305
Moo, I think you mis-understand the concept, it’s not meant to stress you out while you practice. When you practice something over and over again you fall into a type of cruise control where you are not mentally fully engaged. You can do the repetitions, maybe even without mistakes and this seems like you are making progress but you are making much less progress than you think because your mind is not fully engaged.

As an example, if you wanted to learn the capital of all the 50 states and you started with Illinois and repeated that the capital is Springfield 50 times, this would be super easy because the the information is right at the forefront of your memory. But, your brain isn’t working very hard, it doesn’t need to, how hard is it to say Springfield is the capital of Illinois over and over again, and that’s the problem. With this type of repetition your mind doesn’t need to work very hard, it actually can work on autopilot and this prevents deep long term learning. It would be much more beneficial to repeat a few times and then move on to other states and then come back to Illinois. Doing this forces your brain to actually work to retrieve the information since it’s no longer at the forefront, and this work is what develops longer term, deeper learning. This is the idea behind interleaving.


Ok but I thought the OP was having problems with anxiety about a performance and it sounded like a stressful method to practice. If you are talking that this technique is a more useful way to practice I'm not too sure myself. I don't think the analogy (memorising capitals) is similar to music which is more complex. I expect it would be a more useful technique if you are trying to memorise music . I'm not sure how someone would memorise music and have never tried to memorise music but I expect you need such tricks to be able to do this ! I agree mindless practice is not useful but I think there are many other methods to practice that is not mindless that we all use. I'm not sure why you'd resort to this interlacing technique over the standard ones. It seems a crude method to me.

Last edited by Moo :); 02/10/19 07:47 PM.
Re: Interleaved practice [Re: elenmirie] #2813241
02/10/19 07:56 PM
02/10/19 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by elenmirie
How many pieces do you usually have on your rack? How long are your practice sessions typically?
I have three or four new pieces, one is my piece of the week, which is much more reading than memorising with just a couple of spots taken slowly and carefully for the next day. My three main learning pieces are taken in phrases. I generally work on one phrase per piece and change it every two to five days depending on how easily it's memorised.

There will be three pieces that have been through the memorising process, phrase by phrase, and are being tackled in two to four phrase units.

I cycle through the last twelve pieces I've completed this process with and consolidate them three pieces a week over a four week period. I may only do one or two each day but I'll cover the three over the week.

I have one to three pieces that I've learned in the past and am revisiting and three current repertoire pieces that I'm investigating in small units.

There might be twelve to twenty pieces on the rack but only about a dozen are done each day, three to four cycles most days and I'm done in just over an hour that includes short breaks. (I might spend a few extra minutes playing favourite pieces.)
The first cycle takes between twenty and thirty minutes, then a short break, the second and third cycles take around ten minutes each, with breaks between. If there's a fourth cycle it'll be quick, new pieces only, maybe five minutes.

I do five days a week learning, and two days a week playing known material and reading collections like Grieg's Lyric pieces, Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words and such like. I take a week off every quarter to clear the head or plan my next season.


Richard
Re: Interleaved practice [Re: elenmirie] #2813245
02/10/19 08:03 PM
02/10/19 08:03 PM
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Here is a link to a few articles that speak about interleaved practice these articles are by people much more educated than I am with regard to this subject. It may not be a technique that everyone will like to use but discounting the subject out of hand without learning about it (like reading the articles I mentioned) seems counterproductive to having a meaningful conversation about this topic.


It’s never too late to be what you might have been. -George Eliot
Re: Interleaved practice [Re: elenmirie] #2813354
02/11/19 02:42 AM
02/11/19 02:42 AM
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I always thought that the interleaved practice theory is supposed to work on the small chunk or phrase level, so, according to this theory, instead of playing phrase 1 for 12 times, phrase 2 for 12 times and phrase 3 for 12 times, a student should play every phrase just 3 times, but repeat the set of phrases 4 times in a row. And IIRC the theory was proven to be efficient on small sets of motions.

It's the first time I hear that this theory should work on the piece level. I have doubts about that and I don't think it was proven to work that way.

Re: Interleaved practice [Re: Moo :)] #2814711
02/13/19 05:18 PM
02/13/19 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Moo :)

Ok but I thought the OP was having problems with anxiety about a performance and it sounded like a stressful method to practice. If you are talking that this technique is a more useful way to practice I'm not too sure myself. I don't think the analogy (memorising capitals) is similar to music which is more complex. I expect it would be a more useful technique if you are trying to memorise music . I'm not sure how someone would memorise music and have never tried to memorise music but I expect you need such tricks to be able to do this ! I agree mindless practice is not useful but I think there are many other methods to practice that is not mindless that we all use. I'm not sure why you'd resort to this interlacing technique over the standard ones. It seems a crude method to me.


The OP (me) was concerned about the fleetingness of learning by current practice methods, and the fact that if the OP's performance in a lesson deteriorates, then what will happen when more pressure gets put upon it, as it would in an actual performance. The OP (me) has chosen to follow some psychological research that indicates a more solid learning method. Right or wrong!

The OP (me) is also a bit tired of endless debate on whether or not this is worth doing. It's working for me. Throw rocks as much as you like, I'm on it.

Yes, I know: "It serves me right, I shouldn't have joined!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_28mmoBNEgY

I hope that gives someone a smile!


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Re: Interleaved practice [Re: elenmirie] #2814773
02/13/19 07:02 PM
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Re: Interleaved practice [Re: elenmirie] #2814827
02/13/19 09:27 PM
02/13/19 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by elenmirie
Originally Posted by Moo :)

Ok but I thought the OP was having problems with anxiety about a performance and it sounded like a stressful method to practice. If you are talking that this technique is a more useful way to practice I'm not too sure myself. I don't think the analogy (memorising capitals) is similar to music which is more complex. I expect it would be a more useful technique if you are trying to memorise music . I'm not sure how someone would memorise music and have never tried to memorise music but I expect you need such tricks to be able to do this ! I agree mindless practice is not useful but I think there are many other methods to practice that is not mindless that we all use. I'm not sure why you'd resort to this interlacing technique over the standard ones. It seems a crude method to me.


The OP (me) was concerned about the fleetingness of learning by current practice methods, and the fact that if the OP's performance in a lesson deteriorates, then what will happen when more pressure gets put upon it, as it would in an actual performance. The OP (me) has chosen to follow some psychological research that indicates a more solid learning method. Right or wrong!

The OP (me) is also a bit tired of endless debate on whether or not this is worth doing. It's working for me. Throw rocks as much as you like, I'm on it.

Yes, I know: "It serves me right, I shouldn't have joined!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_28mmoBNEgY

I hope that gives someone a smile!



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Re: Interleaved practice [Re: elenmirie] #2814829
02/13/19 09:33 PM
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Re: Interleaved practice [Re: elenmirie] #2816069
02/16/19 07:50 AM
02/16/19 07:50 AM
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For a bit more than a week, I have played ten minutes per section/piece per day, or per two days, and I didn't like it at all. For one thing, it got way too repetitive for my hands, and the thought that during these ten minutes I should achieve my two-day-progress stressed me.
Now I have changed to three minutes per section, and they can be repeated several times, and I like it a lot! I try to play very differently, for example first three minutes quick staccato, then three minutes legato, then left hand only, then right hand only. I feel much less stress, because it doesn't matter if there is no progress during the three minutes. Hopefully, there will be some progress during the next three minutes.
Also, instead of turning up the metronome during a three-minute session, I like to do it before a new session. So if I play a section with 80 bpm and it goes well, I do two or three other things, and the next time I practise that same section again, I start with 85 or 90 bpm.
I am quite surprised that I actually like practising in this way so much!


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
Re: Interleaved practice [Re: elenmirie] #2816090
02/16/19 10:23 AM
02/16/19 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Animisha
I am quite surprised that I actually like practising in this way so much!
Me too! smile

I think the three minutes might be too constrictive, not now, it seems, as you're enjoying it, but practise doesn't always go so smoothly for us. The idea is to just use a short time, say two to five minutes - without actually timing it - just enough to make some progress on a short snippet. It's best to work on a complete musical phrase, or a period (two phrases; one antecedent, one consequent) or, as the piece grows in familiarity, on a four bar section. If one phrase is comprised of several technical issues, the whole thing can be worked on in your practise session but as individual fragments.

Sometimes just making an effort is enough - not, perhaps, to show progress that day but enough for the mental connection to develop overnight.

When we speak we put individual emphasis on one syllable in most words, on one word or phrase in each sentence and one phrase or sentence in each paragraph, or its spoken equivalent. In music we have the same thing. Each figure in a phrase has its main accent, each phrase a climax and each section, typically four bars, its own climax and the piece as a whole that all the other climaxes build towards and then fall away from. When working on a phrase I build it to a note or group of notes that give it meaning as a whole.

When I'm putting phrases together I'm looking for the point of them and when I'm building a piece I want it to go somewhere before it comes home. In most pieces the main climax is in the dominant, often the highest accented note in the phrase, the third phrase in a section, and so on. Sometimes it happens differently so I always spend time looking, putting each unit into its musical context. When I'm doing this I'm less aware of battling against technical problems and more attentive to gearing the technical work towards a musical solution. It's less, 'o, this isn't working and I can't do it' and more 'how can I change what I'm doing to achieve my purpose'. It's creative problem solving instead of mechanical drudgery. It's absorbing rather than frustrating. And I'm much more likely to continue to work on it away from the piano.

At the start of a new piece, the first session that day, I'm barely playing a note but mentally understanding what the phrase is doing, in context, which helps me better understand what it should be saying and how. By the end of the week the first cycle in the session will be mostly a quick recap of where I've been with it, two or three plays though and a brief review of how it went. In the last cycle the phrase will get a couple of plays through, usually at different speeds, widening the dynamic range, exaggerating the accents and so on, all of which will make the phrase feel natural, but still with its proper intent, when played in situ. None of this takes very long, the more I do on the first day, the quicker it goes during the week. I don't time the work I do, I just know it's not long on each repeat. I'm relaxed, I'm not expecting much, I don't have pressure. I have things to work toward rather than targets to reach.

If you're enjoying what you do with the three minutes thing, there's nothing more to be said. But when you experiment again, as you did with the ten minute thing, try to work towards something rather than trying to achieve something and work till you think you've done enough for each individual slot, not always for that day, but for that cycle. If the work is hard, demanding or tricky you'll spend less time on it as the level of concentration creates more fatigue in a shorter time. When the passages are coming together for you the time passes quicker, you spend longer there as there's less fatigue, your volume of work rises and progress happens more measurably. You're more likely to finish the session wanting to go back the next day with renewed vigour rather than wanting to get away from the piano for a day or two.

It's not the time you spend at the instrument each day, but the quality of the effort between each night of sleep that matters most.

I'm glad you're enjoying it; that's what we're here for, and it's good that you're trying other things. Keep it up.


Richard
Re: Interleaved practice [Re: elenmirie] #2816184
02/16/19 02:32 PM
02/16/19 02:32 PM
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I'm coming late to this thread, and I've only read the first article referenced, but here are my thoughts thus far.

They're not comparing apples to apples. Interleaved vs mindless repetition of course interleaved will produce better results. But that article is based on a study of baseball players, and I'm fairly certain the kind of practice needed for that is different than for piano, where one must alter the music to assist in the learning process (changing rhythms, adding accents, blocking, etc.) - IOW, mindful practice that directly addresses the issues the player is having. So if you are practicing by just repeating, then yes, interleaved is better.

But let's assume that the study of baseball players is truly analogous to pianists. The reason why interleaved worked better was because of the repetition basically putting your mind to sleep, and so in interleaved, you keep it engaged because it changes quickly enough. So why are you practicing in such a way that your mind is not engaged?

Also, the author jumps to a conclusion saying that one should practice in rhythms *and* interleaved. Why do we know that this is more helpful than just being mindful and task-oriented and using rhythms and other tools alone?

Ideally, one would have 4 groups in a study:

Group 1 - The control group, who practices only by repeating passages for a set number of repetitions or time at the piano (i.e., 15 minutes of repeating A, 15 min of repeating B, 15 min of repeating C)

Group 2 - The Interleaved Only group, who practices the same kind of repetitions at Group 1, but randomizes the tasks (i.e., 5 min repeating A, 5 min repeating B, 5 min repeating C, 5 min A, 5 min B, 5 min C, etc., for the same total amount of time as Group 1)

Group 3 - The Focused Practice Group, who practice piece A for 15 minutes but utilize practice techniques such as rhythms or accents, whatever is required to address the problem with the passages, do the same for piece B 15 min and piece C 15 min.

Group 4 - The Interleaved & Focused Group, who combines the interleaved concept with focused practice techniques (i.e., doing one rhythmic variation for A for 5 min, then move on to something else for b, and c, and come back to A to do another rhythmic variation)

The reason I'm hesitant to jump on the bandwagon with this is simply the opening of the article speaks about a phenomenon of practicing and getting it to sound good one day and then the next day feeling as if you're starting all over again. I do not have this experience if I am practicing mindfully.

So while it may be a solution, I think that if you still need to do the mindful practice techniques, then does the interleaving part really help? I believe this is what pianoloverus is referring to, and I agree with him thus far. I'll take some time to read the other articles and see if there's more to it than that.


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Re: Interleaved practice [Re: elenmirie] #2816192
02/16/19 02:52 PM
02/16/19 02:52 PM
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I see an analogy in this thread about practicing to some/most of the courses students can take to prepare for the SAT. Most of the companies giving those courses try to appeal to students by saying they will teach them tricks to outsmart the test. But as a former teacher i think by far the best "trick" is to understand the material. Yes, some of the test taking tricks taught by those courses can be somewhat helpful, but they pale in comparison to understanding the material. But the ads for the courses appeal to many students and parents because they think learning these tricks will solve their problems with the test.

I don't think most of what's recommended in this thread, which to the best of my knowledge is not how almost all serious and advanced pianists practice, can make much difference in the final outcome. Musical and technical understanding gained from an excellent teacher and each pianist's personal discoveries along with the practice is what will make the biggest difference.

Re: Interleaved practice [Re: Animisha] #2816472
02/17/19 09:43 AM
02/17/19 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Animisha
For a bit more than a week, I have played ten minutes per section/piece per day, or per two days, and I didn't like it at all. For one thing, it got way too repetitive for my hands, and the thought that during these ten minutes I should achieve my two-day-progress stressed me.
Now I have changed to three minutes per section, and they can be repeated several times, and I like it a lot! I try to play very differently, for example first three minutes quick staccato, then three minutes legato, then left hand only, then right hand only. I feel much less stress, because it doesn't matter if there is no progress during the three minutes. Hopefully, there will be some progress during the next three minutes.
Also, instead of turning up the metronome during a three-minute session, I like to do it before a new session. So if I play a section with 80 bpm and it goes well, I do two or three other things, and the next time I practise that same section again, I start with 85 or 90 bpm.
I am quite surprised that I actually like practising in this way so much!

A question: were you doing the kind of practice like staccato/legato, hands separate, etc. prior to trying the interleaved? Or did you start incorporating those both in at the same time? Because it sounds to me more like you are using your time more wisely with good practice techniques other than blind repetition, and that may be where the bulk of the progress is coming from.

Honestly, I'm very curious about these things. I want to know what tools are worthwhile sharing with my students and what are not, so I'm not trying to poo-poo anyone's experience. But if by asking questions and investigating the results we can all learn what works most effectively, then everybody wins.

I read through some of the other articles, and I still am not convinced it's not just a matter of mindful practice vs. mindless repetition. What do you think?


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Re: Interleaved practice [Re: zrtf90] #2816484
02/17/19 10:23 AM
02/17/19 10:23 AM
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Sweden
Originally Posted by zrtf90
I'm glad you're enjoying it; that's what we're here for, and it's good that you're trying other things. Keep it up.

Thank you Richard! Easy to keep it keep it up when it's so enjoyable.

Originally Posted by zrtf90
When I'm putting phrases together I'm looking for the point of them and when I'm building a piece I want it to go somewhere before it comes home. In most pieces the main climax is in the dominant, often the highest accented note in the phrase, the third phrase in a section, and so on. Sometimes it happens differently so I always spend time looking, putting each unit into its musical context.

I found this really interesting! I will start looking for this.

Animisha


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
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