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How much practice is too much?
#2962632 04/01/20 03:02 PM
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Is there an ideal amount of time for you to practice daily or weekly? Do you think that too much practice is counterproductive?

Is there only X amount that a person can learn in a day? Is there only Y mount of ability that a person can achieve in a day?

My opinion varies on this.

Also, is there a distinction between practicing and playing? Playing is beneficial to your abilities, but that isn't the intent when I play. I see practice differently.. Do others look at their time on the piano that way?

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Re: How much practice is too much?
Jack Moody #2962649 04/01/20 03:27 PM
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The "ideal" amount of time depends upon the individual;
- upon length of time one can concentrate and thus practice efficiently and productively,
- upon length of time one can be physically comfortable sitting at the piano
- upon the length and number of breaks one can take to extend the above
- upon the number of external distractions

But yes, if one loses concentration, if one becomes physically uncomfortable or tired, continued practice can be counter-productive.

Regards,


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Re: How much practice is too much?
BruceD #2962654 04/01/20 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
The "ideal" amount of time depends upon the individual;
- upon length of time one can concentrate and thus practice efficiently and productively,
- upon length of time one can be physically comfortable sitting at the piano
- upon the length and number of breaks one can take to extend the above
- upon the number of external distractions

But yes, if one loses concentration, if one becomes physically uncomfortable or tired, continued practice can be counter-productive.

Regards,


Is it actually counterproductive, as in it moves you in a bad direction, or is it just not efficient?

What if you can just mindlessly play for hours? Cant it be good to play without concentration?

Re: How much practice is too much?
Jack Moody #2962655 04/01/20 03:37 PM
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I agree with BruceD and think that just playing the piano is different than practicing. For me I'm concentrating a lot more when I'm practicing. And just playing can be relaxing. But I don't do a whole lot of that because I seem to be always working on my lesson.

Re: How much practice is too much?
BruceD #2962657 04/01/20 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
The "ideal" amount of time depends upon the individual;
- upon length of time one can concentrate and thus practice efficiently and productively,
- upon length of time one can be physically comfortable sitting at the piano
- upon the length and number of breaks one can take to extend the above
- upon the number of external distractions

But yes, if one loses concentration, if one becomes physically uncomfortable or tired, continued practice can be counter-productive.

Regards,


Bruce,

Another thought, isnt physical discomfort at least as likely, if not more likely to be caused by "improper practice" rather than pure volume?

I guess that means that the volume of practice may be limited by the intensity.

Re: How much practice is too much?
Jack Moody #2962684 04/01/20 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Jack Moody
Originally Posted by BruceD
The "ideal" amount of time depends upon the individual;
- upon length of time one can concentrate and thus practice efficiently and productively,
- upon length of time one can be physically comfortable sitting at the piano
- upon the length and number of breaks one can take to extend the above
- upon the number of external distractions

But yes, if one loses concentration, if one becomes physically uncomfortable or tired, continued practice can be counter-productive.

Regards,


Is it actually counterproductive, as in it moves you in a bad direction, or is it just not efficient?

[...]


I think that the individual has to decide on productivity or lack of it during a practice session. If I am not concentrating,if I am making mistakes and ignoring them then I think my practice session becomes counter-productive because those ignored mistakes may tend to creep into my eventual playing of a given passage.

If I am practicing inefficiently, that is if I am not making any headway either in solving technical problems or in resolving interpretive issues, I don't see much point in continuing to practice until I have somehow refreshed myself physically and/or mentally.

In other words, I wouldn't dictate any prescriptive measures but would think about whether my time - at a given moment - might be better spent doing something else. Again, we all differ in our abilities to absorb, process and produce, so in answer to your original question (Is there an ideal amount of time for you to practice daily or weekly?) in light of what I have since written, my answer would be "it depends."

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: How much practice is too much?
Jack Moody #2962688 04/01/20 05:14 PM
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As my old pro musician and improv teach told us that being a musician is no different than any other job and you need to put in 40 hour per week. Now the 40 is splits between gigging, practicing, composing, study, and serious listening. Weird the thing most skimp or skip out on is SERIOUS listening, listening to music in deeper and deeper detail.

Just listening to music or noodling around on the piano isn't practice. Practice is being focused on a task and that much focus is draining so take a break every hour, step away from the piano, clear your head before doing another practice segment.

Re: How much practice is too much?
Jack Moody #2962690 04/01/20 05:20 PM
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I also believe there is not any fixed amount that can be set. It also depends if it is in a continuous block of time or if you can break it between several sessions.

The other main constraint is physical stress. The problem is that physical stress builds up and there is not necessarily warning signs like pain, until it is too late and you end up with an injury. If you practice too much every day, even if there is no pain, it could lead to injury. The problem is the too much is not the same for each person, and it depends on the intensity of the practice. So it is difficult to define a fixed amount of time.

Re: How much practice is too much?
Jack Moody #2962701 04/01/20 05:46 PM
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Adding mental stress. Getting enough sleep, health conditions...if you are not focusing any more and it becomes mindless playing/practice..time to stop. I always take a break after 20 minutes of solid practice. Some days I can practice for 2 hours plus, other days just 20 minutes.


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Re: How much practice is too much?
Pianoperformance #2962717 04/01/20 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Pianoperformance
Adding mental stress. Getting enough sleep, health conditions...if you are not focusing any more and it becomes mindless playing/practice..time to stop. I always take a break after 20 minutes of solid practice. Some days I can practice for 2 hours plus, other days just 20 minutes.


I have started to enjoy mindless or at least distracted playing. That's how I play while I watch shows on the tablet. I think that has allowed me to relax more when I practice or play.

I dont seem to get instant benefits from it, but benefits build slowly over time and before I realize it, I've taken another nice step forward. I will find that I am adding in new things without thought.

If I am working on something that seems very unnatural to me and requires a lot of effort, then it seems to be self limiting. I dont want to do those things for long.

Maybe my view is different than some because I am learning differently. I have no interest in sitting down and playing music exactly as it's written. That seems like such a slow and inefficient way to learn, in the beginning.

I wonder if a lot of new players practice and almost never play.

Re: How much practice is too much?
Jack Moody #2962725 04/01/20 06:39 PM
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jack Moody...not sure if you are taking any lessons or where you are on your journey. I have weekly lessons. I have been mindless with TV on, but I really wasn’t getting anywhere. So TV is off when in practice mode. I am still ‘practicing’ and playing is playing through current pieces once through to see how it hangs; but mainly practicing. Ordinary, I have one piece that I am working on the musicality, it’s as close to ‘playing’ for me right now.


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Re: How much practice is too much?
Jack Moody #2962743 04/01/20 08:45 PM
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I think how you practice may be more important than how much you practice. I have had a lot of in depth analytical stuff here which was over my head. Also many people appear to be interested in their progress or monitor their practice with goals. To be honest I never did this but have had to changed how I practice current coronavirus situation and lessons stopping. I was not able to concentrate on what I used to do. Rather than stop I have been playing only short and relatively straight forward music. I taught my invention 13 by bach this week. I do not play for a long time but it seems to be working. It is quite new to me to learn pieces myself. I also found a score with all the fingering suggestions all ready on as I could not even be bothered to concentrate on what fingers to play. I also cant concentrate to play my current harder pieces. I did for example start learning rach d major prelude with my teacher but and just cant concentrate at it all. I am able to play it slowly but I just have decided to not practice it. I honestly do not ever time myself or analyse my practice but I would not however just play mindlessly. I would find what is right for you. Good luck practicing !

Re: How much practice is too much?
Jack Moody #2962753 04/01/20 09:36 PM
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At the moment, my optimal daily practice session is between 45 and 60 minutes long. Sometimes if I’m in particularly good condition that day (I mean mentally/brain function), I can go for as long as 80 minutes. Ideally I aim to practice 7 days a week, but if I am not up to it on a particular day, I don’t push myself because pushing myself is a complete waste of time. I will not be productive and I will be frustrated. My fingers just will not listen.

Then, after a period of daily or almost daily practice I go on upto a week’s vacation, and I don’t practice at all to rest my brain, so that it can be as efficient and productive as possible when I start practicing again.

Doing this, I’ve noticed myself progressing, not amazingly fast or anything, but slowly and surely progressing.

How much practicing is enough or too much is so personal. Everyone will be different.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 04/01/20 09:36 PM.

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Re: How much practice is too much?
Jack Moody #2962786 04/02/20 12:34 AM
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It's possible to practice something until you hate it. There are some teachers who can be downright sadistic (not Bruce, of course). If built-up hostility or frustration becomes an obstacle, you either have to break through it, or go around it, or root it out of your life. Or give up (although to a real hope-to-die musician, I don't think that's really available).

This can happen to musicians who tour and give concerts where they have to play the songs their fans want to hear, over and over--- for years, even. They can get sick of it. James Taylor, appearing in concert with Carole King, commented that he could have made a whole career out of just one of her songs, "You've Got A Friend." If you look a little behind that, I think he's revealing something of a process that has helped him to have an emotionally healthy attitude to the realities of his professional work. Respect, gratitude, for one thing. Acknowledging the wonder of being present at a miracle, which is what a work like that song, is.

Personally, I don't see anything really wrong with watching TV on the tablet while you play. Jack is a grown man, not a kid goofing off; building up familiarity with the keyboard can be like speaking a language using total immersion, speaking nothing else... except that music is that unique thing: the universal language that speaks to everyone. Maybe he's making up a soundtrack as he watches, building up a skill. It could be fun; there could also be money in it, if he wants to go that way.

Other goals, other times; other methods.

I have to get out of my own way. One way is to have a regular time to practice; you do have to put in the hours if you want to see the results. And yes, it's possible to overdo it; injuries to the joints and tendons can be very unforgiving, and can we talk about a healthy posture--- you can kill your back. Don't do that! You can kill your hearing--- don't do that! You can kill your joy--- don't do that either; you don't have to. While you're working out pieces, working on skills, the mind, by its own power is learning, hooking up the physical mechanical visual actions into what the real music is. I think that is the real miracle of it. It is free, it is innate. Wow. Face the music; offer yourself to it; it happens by its own power.


Clef

Re: How much practice is too much?
Jack Moody #2962808 04/02/20 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Jack Moody
Is there only X amount that a person can learn in a day? Is there only Y mount of ability that a person can achieve in a day?

I'd answer yes and yes. There are physiological limits of stable neuron connections buildup a day.

Speaking about practice endurance I think it's most important to switch tasks often. I'd say no more than 30 minutes on one task without a break. I consider mindless playing a break, too.

Mindless playing is only good for very well learned repertoire where it can help polish some places and bring new ideas. But certainly it's a great pleasure.

A chair instead of a stool helps greatly for longer sessions.

Re: How much practice is too much?
Iaroslav Vasiliev #2962811 04/02/20 05:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by Jack Moody
Is there only X amount that a person can learn in a day? Is there only Y mount of ability that a person can achieve in a day?

I'd answer yes and yes. There are physiological limits of stable neuron connections buildup a day.

Speaking about practice endurance I think it's most important to switch tasks often. I'd say no more than 30 minutes on one task without a break. I consider mindless playing a break, too.

Mindless playing is only good for very well learned repertoire where it can help polish some places and bring new ideas. But certainly it's a great pleasure.

A chair instead of a stool helps greatly for longer sessions.

I would agree very much with everything except the last sentence. I used to use a chair but now use a stool. The chair was needed for bad back which in turn was due to bad posture. Cure that and it will also help with your playing. In my case it involved opening up my shoulders. In effect stopping crouching.


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Re: How much practice is too much?
Colin Miles #2962829 04/02/20 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by Jack Moody
Is there only X amount that a person can learn in a day? Is there only Y mount of ability that a person can achieve in a day?

I'd answer yes and yes. There are physiological limits of stable neuron connections buildup a day.

Speaking about practice endurance I think it's most important to switch tasks often. I'd say no more than 30 minutes on one task without a break. I consider mindless playing a break, too.

Mindless playing is only good for very well learned repertoire where it can help polish some places and bring new ideas. But certainly it's a great pleasure.

A chair instead of a stool helps greatly for longer sessions.

I would agree very much with everything except the last sentence. I used to use a chair but now use a stool. The chair was needed for bad back which in turn was due to bad posture. Cure that and it will also help with your playing. In my case it involved opening up my shoulders. In effect stopping crouching.

I'm afraid I can maintain a good back posture for no more than 1.5-2 hours, or shorter in the evening. After that my back muscles get tired and I start to crouch. I found that leaning on the back of a chair from time to time helps to prolong the period before the muscles get tired substantially.

But it may be that my sitting back posture still requires improvement. Could you please give me some advice? Or is there something to read or to watch that you could recommend on that subject?

Re: How much practice is too much?
Iaroslav Vasiliev #2962833 04/02/20 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev

I'm afraid I can maintain a good back posture for no more than 1.5-2 hours, or shorter in the evening. After that my back muscles get tired and I start to crouch. I found that leaning on the back of a chair from time to time helps to prolong the period before the muscles get tired substantially.

But it may be that my sitting back posture still requires improvement. Could you please give me some advice? Or is there something to read or to watch that you could recommend on that subject?

I attribute my original back problems to the years I spent as youngster on the piano and organ! As for improvement, anything which strengthens the back muscles will help. I find careful, and I stress the word careful, digging in the garden helps - doing quite a bit of this because of the lockdown. But I found the best way of opening up my shoulders was to simply tense them back with both arms behind my back. Or put one arm against the wall and press back against it. Doing these things constantly over a period of time gradually loosened them up and I now stand up straight as well. Takes time. Do things gradually and never in such a way as something starts to hurt.


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Re: How much practice is too much?
Jack Moody #2962836 04/02/20 07:27 AM
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By the way last month I got a very rare soviet book from 1930's about piano playing ergonomics and there it was written that one of the main factors that induces fatigue at the piano is the head tilt down, because according to research (but no exact reference was given) the head tilt down causes the accumulative congestion of blood in the head. It was recommended to tilt the head down as minimally as possible, to raise the music score on an upright higher and to tilt the head back shortly from time to time during the practice.

Re: How much practice is too much?
Colin Miles #2962837 04/02/20 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
I attribute my original back problems to the years I spent as youngster on the piano and organ! As for improvement, anything which strengthens the back muscles will help. I find careful, and I stress the word careful, digging in the garden helps - doing quite a bit of this because of the lockdown. But I found the best way of opening up my shoulders was to simply tense them back with both arms behind my back. Or put one arm against the wall and press back against it. Doing these things constantly over a period of time gradually loosened them up and I now stand up straight as well. Takes time. Do things gradually and never in such a way as something starts to hurt.

Thank you! I'll try it.

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