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My technical shortcomings frustrate me more and more, and I'm ready to practice instead of "just playing".

Here is a random sample of my level: https://youtu.be/0-Ww_7atb0o (both hands from about 0:55 if you want to jump)

How do I best go at it, if I have maybe 30-60 minutes a day? I'll be thankful for any help, especially concrete suggestions.

(Happy to give any information in the thread if needed, or record any more samples if I have the sheet music somewhere.)

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I only have one simple tip. Slow down. It sounds like you basically know the piece in the video. But the stopping and starting destroys the rhythmic pulse of the music. Play it slowly enough so that you're able to play consistently without stopping and restarting. I'm sometimes guilty of this when I sight read certain Bach pieces. Sometimes I have to tell myself to slow down.

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Thanks.

Slowing down - you mean to make it more bearable for myself and innocent bystanders, or is this the best way to improve my playing as well?

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If you want to learn this piece properly, you need to practice the sections or bars in which you're stumbling over or not coordinating your hands. Take them out and practice them slowly by themselves (after making sure that your fingering works for you) until you get them right 100% of the time before gradually increasing speed back up to tempo and putting them back into the passages.

Practicing isn't just playing through the piece again and again and again.


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That sounds very right to me, for a given piece of music. (I had picked this impromptu because I had just heard a young boy purr it down without a wrong keystroke, while I still play it as badly as when I was a teenager myself.)

What about general improvement, though? Just practice single pieces until I don't make mistakes? I'm afraid that would mean I'll be stuck for a very long time, and then realise I'm simply not getting anywhere beond Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star at a fifth of the speed, but maybe I'm wrong there. Or some sort of systematic exercises of the Hanon/Czerny/Dohnanyi type? Or somehing else?

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Have you got a teacher?

Without one, you'll keep making the same mistakes without knowing why (ingrained technical problems, rhythm problems, coordination problems etc).

If you do want to play advanced classical pieces to a high standard, you cannot do that without a good teacher. Of course, if you just want to have fun playing what you like, you don't need one.


"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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Barly
You need to be working on music where you can play a fair portion of it correct with only a little work; then you can spend your time working only on the measures that are giving you a problem. Those need to be practiced VERY slowly (slower than slow. If it sounds good for someone else to hear, it is not slow enough.

Work out fingerings, write them in and use them consistently every time you practice.

In the bigger sense..... learn music when you are ready for it, not just because you like it. There is enough wonderful music out there that you could find music you would love to learn and are ready to learn in the same piece. If you skip around from one difficult piece to the other, you are not doing anything to improve your technique and will have little to show for it. This means build up to difficult music


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Here how you practice this piece: I am learning this piece too. At the beginning, I could not play fast and cleanly, until I practice as stated below :

1. Play slowly first.
2. Play with rhythm, but slowly.
3, Play all right notes stacatto, slowly then play faster and faster.
4. Play phrase by phrase until you can play fast, then combine two phrases.


The key to be able to play this piece fast is that your muscle needs to remember the movements because you have no time to think.

Good luck!

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Originally Posted by RonaldSteinway
Here how you practice this piece: I am learning this piece too. At the beginning, I could not play fast and cleanly, until I practice as stated below :

1. Play slowly first.
2. Play with rhythm, but slowly.
3, Play all right notes stacatto, slowly then play faster and faster.
4. Play phrase by phrase until you can play fast, then combine two phrases.


The key to be able to play this piece fast is that your muscle needs to remember the movements because you have no time to think.

Good luck!


The thing is, though, muscles have no memory. There is no structure in a muscle to store memories related to movement. When you practice, you’re encoding neurons in your brain which fire your muscles. The muscles themselves do not remember how they’ve been fired in the past. After you learn a sequence of muscle movements with your brain, you can play them back slowly, and then, with more practice, faster.

I believe the brain is doing forward planning of muscle firing based on previous practice sessions. I think this is similar to how we run races. Say, we’re running a 5k race and we’re standing on the start line. How does the brain know how fast to fire the muscles to complete the course? After all, we’ve never run that course. The brain does forward planning based on the distance, which it knows, and previous practice sessions, which were at a specific pace. With music, we know the course, and we’ve practiced the muscle movements at different speeds.


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Originally Posted by dogperson
In the bigger sense..... learn music when you are ready for it, not just because you like it. [...] This means build up to difficult music


This is not at all to dismiss your words, but independently: is it realistic that I'll get beyond Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star with one hand at 30 beats per minute? This might look like an exaggeration, but as you see from the sample, I can't play a simple scale in an even and clean way, and I'm not 15 anymore.

Originally Posted by bennevis
Have you got a teacher?

Without one, you'll keep making the same mistakes without knowing why (ingrained technical problems, rhythm problems, coordination problems etc).


No teacher for a long time. It wouldn't be easy to get that organized practically, but I'm also not sure how much it would help. I'm fine with matters of rhythm, expression (in theory - the problem is that my fingers are busy enough hitting the right key), all kinds of things that aren't plain dexterity. Of course I'm not arrogant enough to think a teacher couldn't help me at all, but I'm a bit afraid it might come out in paying somebody for telling me to sit straight, basically, and he or she could do that only during the lesson, not while I practice. Even for that, it would have to be a really good teacher, and exactly where it might help, there's some ideology involved, say in holding your hands flat or high.

Originally Posted by bennevis
If you do want to play advanced classical pieces to a high standard, you cannot do that without a good teacher. Of course, if you just want to have fun playing what you like, you don't need one.


Both, which is the problem. I don't plan to give public performances, but to have fun playing what I like, I need to be on a high standard. I'm not talking about winning a blindfold Bumble Bee competition, but you heard what I did to Schubert.

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Originally Posted by Barly

Originally Posted by bennevis
If you do want to play advanced classical pieces to a high standard, you cannot do that without a good teacher. Of course, if you just want to have fun playing what you like, you don't need one.


Both, which is the problem. I don't plan to give public performances, but to have fun playing what I like, I need to be on a high standard. I'm not talking about winning a blindfold Bumble Bee competition, but you heard what I did to Schubert.

That is basically your problem in a nutshell.

You perceive you have some technical problems but all I can see and hear is that you're playing the piece sloppily (and you admit you haven't actually been practicing it) so I have no idea whether you'll be able to play it properly if you spend a few weeks working on it in the way we've been advising here (- or whether you really do have ingrained technical problems which cannot be fixed by proper practicing, and which requires a complete technical overhaul by a good teacher who knows how to fix such problems). The sort of practicing every serious pianist has to do to get any piece to a high enough standard to perform for others, or for piano exams or auditions.

A good teacher will get you to play scales & arpeggios as well as pieces that you've already worked on, and observe your playing carefully to see what your problems are.

If you're looking for a quick diagnosis - and quick fix - of your problems, you won't find it from anyone here.....


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Yes you will get beyond Twinkle Twinkle by being methodical about how you learn. There are several here in the ABF that study independently but play impressively well by doing just that.

Learning to play well is a matter of discipline and patience.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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I wasn't looking for a quick fix - I hope that is believable from what I wrote above - nor even for a quick diagnosis, but for suggestions, "direction" if you will, so that the work and patience I'm willing to give won't be in vain. I'm honestly thankful for all replies yet.

If I'd hear somebody play like this, I might get the same impression, but "sloppily" doesn't sound quite right, that has elements of not giving a damn, playing down something casually, which wasn't the case. I intentionally didn't go back to re-record over and over again, but wanted to give a real sample. Within a certain range, this is simply how well I can play at the moment if I give it my full attention and commitment. I don't jump to the wrong bass key every second time because I don't consider it important, and in fact it bothers me more than most random listeners.

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Originally Posted by Barly
My technical shortcomings frustrate me more and more, and I'm ready to practice instead of "just playing".

Here is a random sample of my level: https://youtu.be/0-Ww_7atb0o (both hands from about 0:55 if you want to jump)

How do I best go at it, if I have maybe 30-60 minutes a day? I'll be thankful for any help, especially concrete suggestions.

(Happy to give any information in the thread if needed, or record any more samples if I have the sheet music somewhere.)


Could you tell us how long you have been learning piano ? and also specifically for this piece, for how long have you practiced it ? Is there a particular reason you choose the Schubert 2nd Impromptu ? You posted this video and you are saying it is reflective of your level, but it is difficult to evaluate since there are many stops and mistakes. Is that due to the fact that you lack practice on this piece or is it usually like this ? I am not sure you know, but this impromptu is around RCM level 10, so it is for advanced students already. So if you are trying to play such a piece but your real level is quite below that, there is no surprise that you struggle to play it.


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Of course. I started as a child, I think I was six, and had lessons until I was something like 13 or maybe 14, with quite a number of very diverse teachers, for external reasons. All standard classical piano. After that, I had no piano at home (and no lessons) and tried to play wherever I had the opportunity, that is planned opportunity. For example, I was allowed to drop by at my girlfriend's family's place from time to time and play a little when I was 18 and such things, all of that very irregular. (Planning also played a role because I can't play by heart, so unless there happened to be sheet music, I couldn't just sit down and play when there was a piano somewhere.)

When I was about 30, my wife and I bought a piano, and since then I've been playing more often again, but without formal lessons and without any systematic practice.

The impromptu (and the other impromtus) is something I already played as a teenager, when I still had lessons, so she probably deemed it to be at an appropriate level. It's a piece I've always liked, as Schubert in general, and the trigger to record i now was that I happened to hear a young boy play purr it down perfectly in a music shop where he tried out pianos with his mother. Of course, he may be the prodigy of the century and/or practice for six hours daily, but as I said, that was just the trigger.

By my level, I meant the playing, not the difficulty of the piece (I'm not familiar with the classification, will look it up.)

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Originally Posted by Barly
I wasn't looking for a quick fix - I hope that is believable from what I wrote above

If I'd hear somebody play like this, I might get the same impression, but "sloppily" doesn't sound quite right, that has elements of not giving a damn, playing down something casually, which wasn't the case.

I don't think you understand what we're getting at.

Have you actually worked on this Impromptu properly and endeavored to correct all those mistakes in the twists and turns that you're making in the RH passagework?

Because in the video, you sound like someone sight-reading, with frequent stumbles whenever there are changes of direction in the scales.

If you cannot be bothered to work on this piece properly in the manner we have suggested (isolating the problem sections and practicing them slowly until you get them correct etc), how can you - or I - tell whether you'll ever be able to play it correctly with assiduous practice?


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I practiced it, under tutelage, in my early teens. But this piece in particular was only an example.

There seems to be a misunderstanding: my whole point is I that do think playing like this will result in my abilities staying on this low level. At best actually, considering that at some point, eyes, muscles and bones don't tend to get better with age.

I am bothered a lot by this, and I never had the attitude that I can't be bothered to put in proper work and patience. This is why I asked here, not about quick fixes or to hear that it's fine if I just go on like that and I'll get better over time (which, as opposed to my wife, I think haven't in the last decade since I had an instrument again). I came here to be bothered.

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Originally Posted by Barly
I practiced it, under tutelage, in my early teens.

That's exactly what it sounds like. You haven't been practicing it, or even playing it recently, and it shows.



Quote
But this piece in particular was only an example.

An example of your sloppiness?

What's the point of presenting a piece you haven't practiced and asking us to comment on your technique?

If I was to play this piece now (which I haven't played for several years), and try to play it at your speed, I'd probably sound similar. Does that mean anything? NO.

Because I once performed it - perfectly - at a speed similar to Zimerman's. And I have no doubt that I can work it back up to performance standard within a week or two if I want to.


Quote
There seems to be a misunderstanding: my whole point is I that do think playing like this will result in my abilities staying on this low level. At best actually, considering that at some point, eyes, muscles and bones don't tend to get better with age.

I am bothered a lot by this, and I never had the attitude that I can't be bothered to put in proper work and patience. This is why I asked here, not about quick fixes or to hear that it's fine if I just go on like that and I'll get better over time (which, as opposed to my wife, I think haven't in the last decade since I had an instrument again). I came here to be bothered.

So - do you want to work at your pieces, or not?

You should, if you're bothered. And you won't get any better if you don't.

You keep persisting in insisting that you have some kind of "problem" unrelated to your practicing methods (which seem to be basically non-existent), when in fact, it could just be that you cannot be bothered to practice anything properly.

If there is a problem, the most likely one is that you don't have a proper (if any) method of practising your pieces.

If you want us to take you seriously, work on this piece properly for the next couple of months and then record yourself.


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Originally Posted by Barly
I wasn't looking for a quick fix - I hope that is believable from what I wrote above - nor even for a quick diagnosis, but for suggestions, "direction" if you will, so that the work and patience I'm willing to give won't be in vain. I'm honestly thankful for all replies yet.

If I'd hear somebody play like this, I might get the same impression, but "sloppily" doesn't sound quite right, that has elements of not giving a damn, playing down something casually, which wasn't the case. I intentionally didn't go back to re-record over and over again, but wanted to give a real sample. Within a certain range, this is simply how well I can play at the moment if I give it my full attention and commitment. I don't jump to the wrong bass key every second time because I don't consider it important, and in fact it bothers me more than most random listeners.


I am not sure I follow your line of thinking. If you just heard a boy playing this piece and you decided to jump back to it after a break of 10 years, do you really expect that you can play it well ? So if the point is indeed that you haven't practice the piece at all or very little, your recording doesnt show much of what you can really do. Do you have a piece that you do play well ?

The fact that you have taken lessons in your youth is an advantage, but after a long break, it takes (lots of) time to get back to it. Piano unlike other skills requires regular practice to keep at level.


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bennevis, I don't understand what you're answering to.

My current state is that I haven't practiced since I was a teenager, and since we bought a piano some years ago, I've just been playing whatever I liked - some things I played as a child, some new things. Doing this, I see that I don't play good enough to enjoy it, and also that mere playing doesn't improve it. So I resolved to change this and practice systematically. That part is settled, and I'm not looking for a cheap way, I'm looking for advice about effective ways, be it practicing passage by passage, practicing very slowly, or superfast, or with my hands crossed, or filming myself and running it through some NASA software for analysis.

The sample was really only that, a sample to show my current ability, with a piece that is probably pretty typical of what I tend to play. I didn't ask for concrete criticism of my technique - sorry if I hadn't made that clear. It was only to give everybody an idea of the bad quality of my playing in case it made a difference for any advice - some people may benefit more from slow scales and others more from Chopin etudes at double speed. That I played it ages ago isn't even so important, because I didn't play it better back then. I understand that the minimal difference between pieces I've played for a long time and pieces I see for the first time is exactly because I never practiced - not during the last years, and probably not well as a teenager. So it's not specifically about how to perfect this piece. If practicing a concrete piece, slowly and so on, is good advice, this is something to take seriously. That's why I'm asking the whole thing. Could as well have been that everybody tells me not to touch any "real" composition and first practice nothing but Hanon for two years.

I didn't imply a problem unrelated to practicing, and my practicing is indeed non-existent, which is exactly what I want to change.

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