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Re: How to polish a piece [Re: lunobili] #2831636 03/26/19 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by lunobili

I am preparing for the ABRSM Grade 3, specifically the A2, B2 and C2 pieces from the 2019-2020 syllabus.

The speed I am aiming to is simply the one suggested in the ABRSM syllabus.

How are you doing with the technical stuff (scales & arpeggios) for Grade 3?


"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: How to polish a piece [Re: bennevis] #2831796 03/26/19 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by lunobili

I am preparing for the ABRSM Grade 3, specifically the A2, B2 and C2 pieces from the 2019-2020 syllabus.

The speed I am aiming to is simply the one suggested in the ABRSM syllabus.

How are you doing with the technical stuff (scales & arpeggios) for Grade 3?


I have not speed problem, but I definitely have memory problems. Basically I cannot get them right at the first attempt, but once I screw up the first couple of times I can play them at the required 80 BPM of even slightly above it.

Re: How to polish a piece [Re: lunobili] #2831797 03/26/19 11:13 PM
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LOL, Moo, thanks for that.

Let's say I am below average for being one that sticks with it, but I appreciate what you are doing.

;-)

Re: How to polish a piece [Re: Moo :)] #2831810 03/27/19 01:42 AM
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Iaroslav Vasiliev Offline
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Originally Posted by Moo :)
Out of the 10% remaining only a few will take their playing beyond learning a few scales and compositions and only 2% (out of the initial 100) will then proceed to intermediate concepts such as playing more advanced classical compositions or if the individual is a jazz player - basic improvisation.

I guess among thоse 2% of adult beginners, the majority have had lessons in childhood, so they know what piano training is about. It means that 99.7% quit as soon as they understand how long it takes to develop piano skills. From this perspective the remaining 0.3% should be considered real heroes.

Thank you, Moo, for interesting info.

Re: How to polish a piece [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2831814 03/27/19 01:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I guess among thоse 2% of adult beginners, the majority have had lessons in childhood, so they know what piano training is about.

Actually, the website says "complete beginners" - so those who have had lessons in childhood should be excluded.

However, this is a commercial website, and they want to sell piano lessons, and they can state Here are the true facts all they want, but unless they give me a source for their claim, I am not convinced. However nice it may feel to boost our ego's with this thought. whistle


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Re: How to polish a piece [Re: Moo :)] #2831818 03/27/19 02:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Moo :)
I read this the other day.
"Here are the true facts: 90% of complete beginners give up playing the piano after barely 4 months of learning.

If you're still playing after 4 months (from being a complete beginner), then you already belong to the top 10% of aspiring pianists.

Out of the 10% remaining only a few will take their playing beyond learning a few scales and compositions and only 2% (out of the initial 100) will then proceed to intermediate concepts such as playing more advanced classical compositions or if the individual is a jazz player - basic improvisation.

Very very few (less than 1%) will even get into playing Liszt's advanced classical pieces, Bach's preludes and fugues or as a jazz player to understand and easily be able to improvise over chord changes such as "All the things you are"."


You left out the two most important parts of this article. The title and the conclusion.

Title: SHOCKING FACT: You've got 90% chance of failure if you study with the wrong piano teacher

Conclusion: "Answer: It's not their talent or ability; It's the skill and competency level of their instructor and mentor. THAT is the key element."

Last edited by keystring; 03/27/19 02:39 AM.
Re: How to polish a piece [Re: jdw] #2831828 03/27/19 03:22 AM
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Originally Posted by jdw
Here is a practice technique that I find powerful for exposing weak points in a piece that is mostly learned. It's playing very slowly, but also with a deliberate attention at every point to the note that comes *after* the one you are about to play. This way you are training not just the right notes, but the momentum you need to get from one note to the next. You're working at a very slow tempo, because you don't play a note unless you know exactly where you're going after--but the motion from each note to the next place to play is quick. It can be a challenging mental exercise, but great IMO if you can do it.

This is especially good for leaps. If you wait till you've played the previous note and then are uncertain, it's already too late.

This reply has been burried under a bunch of others but I wanted to bring it out because it's exactly spot on.

There are two types of mistakes: technical and mental. The technical mistakes are things like finger slips or flubbing a trill and happen basically because your technique is not up to par yet. You just need to practice these in isolation.

However, what you describe - "random" mistakes in different places - are mental errors. They occur because your mind and your hands are not prepared for what is supposed to come next. That is where the above advice is great. Your mind has to be always one step ahead of what you're playing. When you play slowly don't just play slowly but focus on anticipating the next measure while playing the current one. Mental practice is a great tool for this although very difficult.

One of the common mistakes (I'm guilty of it too) is to leave your hands in the same place after playing a note, which results in not being prepared for the next thing and blundering. If your hand needs to move to a different place then you need to move it to prepare for the next thing immediately after playing the current note. It takes a bit of practice, especially if your other hand is doing something else at the same time. But being mentally prepared is the first thing. If you consciously know what comes next then you prepare ahead of time. As you speed up the movements become more automatic but the mental anticipation window needs to become larger so that you can prepare in time.


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Re: How to polish a piece [Re: lunobili] #2831847 03/27/19 05:00 AM
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+1 on the post above...sound advice and it kind of ties in with practicing and playing with mindfulness.

It's very easy, once a piece is committed to muscle memory, to go into a semi-conscious auto-pilot when practicing/playing it (leading us down a mindless state) and if/when a piece has that slight leap or precise fingering to be applied the hands and mind are just not in unison anymore...so anticipation by being mindful on what comes next is very important.

In conjunction, with landing on wrong notes etc. your eyes should not be looking at what you are playing but should be a step ahead and look at where they should be landing before hand...take for example the opening bars in Musette in D (ABRSM - grade 2), you need to jump to the two F#'s from the D2 and the A6 and then back again...this cannot be left to luck in the belief that eventually the hands will adjust and land correctly. Instead one should see the the D2 and then quickly the A6 and the fingers now have a reference point...one good exercise for this, was ghosting the move (you make the leap but only hover over the note and only play it if you landed on the correct notes).

Hope that helps.

J

Last edited by jamiecw; 03/27/19 05:01 AM.
Re: How to polish a piece [Re: lunobili] #2831880 03/27/19 07:55 AM
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Thank you jdw, Qazsedcft, and jamiecw, for highlighting this aspect. I practice anticipating the next measure, when I’m trying to memorise a piece. It helps me in finding the chinks in my real memory (whatever that means!) as opposed to muscle memory. I then work on those areas separately. Also helps a lot with hesitations. I still make some mistakes at higher speeds though, but knowing where you are, and what comes next, helps a lot with recovering after a mistake.

However, it does take a lot of intense focus. I tend to get complacent after something is learnt. And slowly but surely, mistakes start cropping up again.

Would I be correct in assuming that constant “thinking ahead” is the only safe way of playing from memory? Not just when learning it first, but always (even during random play throughs for entertainment). Just like reading ahead.. The ones I’ve memorised are max 2 pages long. Does this strategy change for more advanced pieces? (All this is not exactly about polishing, but still…)

Re: How to polish a piece [Re: Tech-key] #2831911 03/27/19 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Tech-key

Would I be correct in assuming that constant “thinking ahead” is the only safe way of playing from memory? Not just when learning it first, but always (even during random play throughs for entertainment). Just like reading ahead.. The ones I’ve memorised are max 2 pages long. Does this strategy change for more advanced pieces? (All this is not exactly about polishing, but still…)


IMO until you reach a state of "unconscious competence" this is the safest way to play from memory and not make mistakes...check this YouTube video about the four stages of learning.

That's the difference between beginners/intermediate/advanced learners (stages 1-3) and concert pianists (stage 4)...

Re: How to polish a piece [Re: lunobili] #2831913 03/27/19 09:50 AM
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Great tips in this thread!


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Re: How to polish a piece [Re: Qazsedcft] #2831948 03/27/19 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
There are two types of mistakes: technical and mental. The technical mistakes are things like finger slips or flubbing a trill and happen basically because your technique is not up to par yet. You just need to practice these in isolation.

I would argue that all mistakes are mental in fact.

Re: How to polish a piece [Re: jamiecw] #2831950 03/27/19 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by jamiecw
Originally Posted by Tech-key

Would I be correct in assuming that constant “thinking ahead” is the only safe way of playing from memory? Not just when learning it first, but always (even during random play throughs for entertainment). Just like reading ahead.. The ones I’ve memorised are max 2 pages long. Does this strategy change for more advanced pieces? (All this is not exactly about polishing, but still…)


IMO until you reach a state of "unconscious competence" this is the safest way to play from memory and not make mistakes...check this YouTube video about the four stages of learning.

That's the difference between beginners/intermediate/advanced learners (stages 1-3) and concert pianists (stage 4)...

Thank you for answering.. and the video thumb


Think Twice, Play Once
Re: How to polish a piece [Re: lunobili] #2831995 03/27/19 11:59 AM
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Thank you for the video, it was very interesting.

The quote I posted, I'm not sure how valid it is, but I do think the majority do quit within a few months. I think that is very true !


I think also that most important aspect of a piece is its musicalness (whatever it means!) and not difficulty of pieces.

I have seen many amazing interpretations of pieces from adult leaners and I find it very impressive.

I can sometimes hear in a piece the tone and colours which is very interesting.

But I have noticed that most people tend to listen to difficulty of pieces, rather than musicalness.

Difficulty with musicalness is something I have rarely seen.

I tend to perform better when I focused more on muscalness rather than difficulty.


But I've yet to find the secret of how to polish a piece. I don't think there is any secret to be honest.

The best advice is from a teacher.

The advice online is a bit generic and may not really apply to your difficulty in a piece.

If you would like better advice maybe ask a query about a specific part of a piece you are struggling on.

In my experience its mostly persistent and time (with teaching!) that is key.



Bon courage !

smile

x





Last edited by Moo :); 03/27/19 12:04 PM.
Re: How to polish a piece [Re: lunobili] #2859136 06/16/19 10:36 AM
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All the slow practice and effort you put into your piece prior to the polishing stage {which really means continuing, or repeating, the same work after you have learned the piece (and probably memorized it), which is kind of the end of the beginning, but playing it all the way through, with a LOT of focus {a key word, and theme, here and the most important thing you can do to avoid random mistakes), instead of measure by measure, line by line, and section by section (unless you are making consistent mistakes in same places)} will really {REALLY} come into its own. It takes time, is not quickly apparent to you, and you have to wait on that effort to see the piece appreciate and to feel it as you play it. And, do not get frustrated or discouraged because it’s taking so long {ignore that}, IT WILL HAPPEN! You simply have to believe in that aspect of studying a piece. This is easier said than done {trust me, I (and many others) know…}.

Re: How to polish a piece [Re: lunobili] #2859282 06/16/19 04:22 PM
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Great thread. Polish is subjective.
I mean, there is no real road map for original interpretation of a 200 year old piece right?

After you learn the notes, after you understand or interpret the different sections to the best of your ability, after you know the piece inside out and can play it in your sleep - then I can begin the polishing process. It may take weeks to get there.

Polish is all mental confidence to me.
To me polish means I am mentally comfortable to approach the composition, to portray the piece from my point of view flawlessly without elevating my blood pressure or getting that tightness in my gut - like second nature or breathing.

Everyone is different but for me polish is confidence and it puts me in a certain mindset that allows me to own the piece and deliver an elevated understanding and performance I would not be able to achieve without it.

Re: How to polish a piece [Re: lunobili] #2859365 06/16/19 08:43 PM
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Thank you for reviving this thread.

I can say that the suggestion posted a few answers above about practicing slowly and be deliberate about reading ahead was very useful. I am trying to do it, but I feel I should be more constant about it.

In the end I do not feel I really polished the pieces I was referring to in my initial post, but I got them to an acceptable level. Those pieces were for my ABRSM Grade 3 exam. I had a very noticeable stumble in two out of three pieces, but the examiner was very generous and graded them higher than I would have.

Now that the exam is over I am working on Beethoven's minuet in G and I am in the polishing phase. Reading this thread again was a good reminder of what I should be doing.

Thanks again,
Luca

Last edited by lunobili; 06/16/19 08:44 PM.
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