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Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
pianoloverus #2969682 04/21/20 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
For memory type errors and easy solution is to use the score. I have not played anything from memory for over 50 years but have played many, many performances.

In 50 years you haven’t gone to a friend’s house where they asked you to play their piano? This may not be be an official ‘performance ‘ but it would be nice for all of us to be able to play something (or two)


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Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
Animisha #2969686 04/21/20 12:41 PM
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Great question; great answers!


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Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
Animisha #2969690 04/21/20 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Animisha
* Confusion errors. For instance, there is a repeated theme, and in the first half of the piece, it ends this way, and in the second half of the piece, it ends that way. I am in the second half of the piece, but I end the theme as in the first part. Or, for instance, the left hand plays a G major arpeggio as accompaniment, starting on B. The score continues with other arpeggios and then the G major arpeggio returns, starting on G. But sometimes I start the first arpeggio on G, and sometimes I start the second arpeggio on B.
I guess those errors may also come from practicing most difficult sections first or practicing sections in random order. I don't think it's a good way of practicing. I always practice sections in the proper order and as a result I almost never confuse sections.

Originally Posted by Animisha
* Random errors. I just play a note wrong, that I have played correctly so many times, and I just have no idea why.
Often I play pieces slower, pressing every key very distinctively, raising fingers higher. The tone becomes harsher during such practice but it improves precision greatly.

You may also need to pay more attention to the sensations of your fingertips when you play in order to minimize random errors.

Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
Animisha #2969695 04/21/20 01:00 PM
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Yes. Great answers by many here. My only addition is that I have trouble concentrating at times. I asked my teacher if she is 100% focused at all times when playing, of is she plays on “autopilot” as she has performed for decades. The answer surprised me - she is totally concentrating at all times. Thinking about where she is and what is coming next, visualizing where her hands will be with a chord change before she gets there, etc. This is something I will strive for. I think this would help the repeat error, for example. Complete concentration about where you are and where you are going. And Mortensen’s thoughts about always knowing what chord you’re on at all times.

It’s the next level up; I’m trying to get there.


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Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
Animisha #2969703 04/21/20 01:14 PM
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I'm not sure an error less performance is possible, or at least consistently every time. I'm not even sure that aiming for error free playing is sensible.

It is clear from your original comment, other than your confusion errors you are talking about random mistakes and I know these random errors well. We know not to practise mistakes, we know the places where our fingers stumble or timing is wrong can be fixed by practising slowly and bringing up to speed.

The only thing that helps me with the confusion errors is maintaining focus, but that is easier said than done. I remember losing focus once because I was mentally reminding myself to maintain focus to avoid the confusion error and of course I took the wrong exit and I was back at the beginning of the piece.

In relation to dealing with the random errors, knowing the score inside out, getting the piece memorised beyond muscle memory really helps. Not just to remove errors but to be able to recover from the error. Muscle memory works for what to play next if your fingers are in the right place prior, but if you've made a mistake getting yourself back on track is really hard, following the score doesn't always help when you are trying to record and you need to get quickly back on track for minimum disruption to the recording. This is where knowing the music inside out comes into its own.

One thing from my own experience is random errors are often not random. When they happen you might get the same error once every couple of hundred times you play. It can be hard to recognize that this error is not quite random, but once you do you can stop and focus on exactly what your fingers are doing, look for a way to simplify the movements to improve reliability. Also look at where your fingers need to be afterwards so that if you do stumble you know exactly what needs to happen next. With a random mistake I'll just go and repeat the section that contained the mistake and make sure I can play it repeatedly mistake free without much thought or analysis, but once I recognize a weakness that means my playing is not reliable that is when I'll stop to analyse what I am doing.

Beyond the less crucial mistakes like hitting a key too loud or soft or a short pause when there shouldn't be which my recordings have plenty of, I still do not have a recording with no mistakes. My piano teacher who plays in orchestras (not the piano) and has solo parts told me it is rare for her to play error free and mostly no one notices even though she is painfully aware of the mistakes. If someone complements her afterwards she has to stop herself from pointing out the mistakes. It seems being able to recover from a mistake when recording or playing live is as important as minimising mistakes.

Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
Animisha #2969705 04/21/20 01:18 PM
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You might want to read ‘the Perfect Wrong Nite’ by Willim Westney as he discusses errors and how to practice for them. You can buy it used


"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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Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
dogperson #2969714 04/21/20 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
You might want to read ‘the Perfect Wrong Nite’ by Willim Westney as he discusses errors and how to practice for them. You can buy it used

It does have good advise, but be aware, it is repetitive and very slow to make the main points. I wish I'd noted down the important points when I read the book because the idea of re-reading to remind myself of those important points is depressing. So much waffle to get through. It is a pity though because I remember them being revelatory, I just wish my forgetful brain would not forget stuff that is important.

If you do get it, read it with something you can take notes with the first time. You'll have many pages from which you will take no notes, but then other pages you'll take copious notes from.

Last edited by KevinM; 04/21/20 01:32 PM.
Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
KevinM #2969716 04/21/20 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by KevinM
I'm not sure an error less performance is possible, or at least consistently every time. I'm not even sure that aiming for error free playing is sensible.

I agree! My teacher says the same thing...hopefully not just because I stink. eek I have to remind myself frequently that I can never attain perfection with any piece, because it's certainly something I am prone to desire. I have not really got into recording myself yet...I'm sure that brings on a whole new level of frustration. Perhaps it's best if I keep putting that off, LOL.


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Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
JB_PW #2969737 04/21/20 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by JB_PW
Originally Posted by KevinM
I'm not sure an error less performance is possible, or at least consistently every time. I'm not even sure that aiming for error free playing is sensible.

I agree! My teacher says the same thing...hopefully not just because I stink. eek I have to remind myself frequently that I can never attain perfection with any piece, because it's certainly something I am prone to desire. I have not really got into recording myself yet...I'm sure that brings on a whole new level of frustration. Perhaps it's best if I keep putting that off, LOL.

I'd almost say the opposite. Get used to recording yourself, used to listening to your playing. It gives a different insight to what you hear when playing. The more you do it the easier it gets. You do have to work to avoid the perfectionism that you want to give every recording.

Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
Animisha #2969853 04/21/20 05:15 PM
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Just to repeat one of the most important points....

Practicing for performance is essential. Practicing performing is essential.

Now, what does this mean? A lot of us have talked about concentration, focus, controlling where your mind is... But another element (which has come up but maybe not be stressed enough I think) is playing expressively.

I think it's quite common during practice to focus on getting the notes, getting technical details and so on. Some of these technical details are connected to expressiveness.

But when we sit down to perform, all of a sudden, we're thinking about expression, the emotion, the dynamic shading etc. And I think where we trip up is that suddenly we're thinking differently than how we think during practice.

So, we have to practice this way, think just these very thoughts during practicing.... Then when we are performing, and thinking just those very thoughts, it's not new or distracting because we've been doing it all along.

That, I think, is what a true dress rehearsal is. So, we probably need more dress rehearsals before actually performing (or recording).

Re the book, the Perfect Wrong Note, I found it hard to read as KevinM said. Just get the Inner Game of Music, it's really, really helpful.

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Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
ShiroKuro #2969869 04/21/20 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
I think it's quite common during practice to focus on getting the notes, getting technical details and so on. Some of these technical details are connected to expressiveness.

But when we sit down to perform, all of a sudden, we're thinking about expression, the emotion, the dynamic shading etc. And I think where we trip up is that suddenly we're thinking differently than how we think during practice.
In the beginning of learning a piece one might focus more/mostly on solving technical problems, but fairly soon one should be focusing on expression, emotion, etc. I don't see how one could even consider doing that just "when we sit down to perform" or in only a few dress rehearsals. Not only does that make a good performance virtually impossible, it also makes practicing boring. I think it was Isaac Stern who said one should not think about "practicing" but "making music".

Last edited by pianoloverus; 04/21/20 06:19 PM.
Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
Animisha #2969914 04/21/20 08:18 PM
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I used to play a lot in my youth and I honestly can probably count on one hand the number of times I thought my performance (when it mattered, in front of an audience) of a difficult and long piece was "error free". If you are consistently challenging yourself and holding yourself to a high standard, I think error free performances are quite rare.
I hit this same issue when I was recording Pathetique 3 for the online recital: at some point it just felt like I was recording over and over and hitting my head against a wall. Finally, I just let it go and played it to the best of my ability, concentrating on the styling aspects rather than every correct note, and enjoyed it much better that way.
I do find that if I put a piece away for a couple of days and return to it, I tend to play better...probably just makes me feel less run down, in a way.
Also, once you think a piece you recorded is "error free", just go on Spotify and listen to a performing artist's recording of it. I always tend to rethink my analysis after that and it just becomes a vicious cycle of continuous learning laugh.

Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
Animisha #2969923 04/21/20 09:02 PM
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One should always practice like a professional, when preparing for a performance. Or even a recording:

An amateur practices something until he gets it right. A professional practices until he can't get it wrong.

Then, in performance, the amateur-professional should forget all that and just perform thumb.


"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."
Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
Animisha #2970039 04/22/20 08:51 AM
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Ben, Right as usual!

I identify practice as learn mode. Then i rehearse. This is prep for performance, or not learn mode but repetition.

The rub, is knowing how many reps? Start at 200. Yes, 200. Yes, if you can only play it twice a day, that's 100 days, prep work. Until one knows how much is enough. Don't fool yourself. This is not for free. It's tuff love, but if one can't commit, one is destin to suck.


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Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
Farmerjones #2970073 04/22/20 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Farmerjones
The rub, is knowing how many reps? Start at 200. Yes, 200. Yes, if you can only play it twice a day, that's 100 days, prep work. Until one knows how much is enough. Don't fool yourself. This is not for free. It's tuff love, but if one can't commit, one is destin to suck.
I can't imagine that any amateur or professional plays a piece from start to finish 200 times when practicing for a performance if that's what you mean. It's possible that the most difficult passages could be practiced that much but I even have doubts about that. Seems totally inappropriate to me.

Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
pianoloverus #2970246 04/22/20 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Farmerjones
The rub, is knowing how many reps? Start at 200. Yes, 200. Yes, if you can only play it twice a day, that's 100 days, prep work. Until one knows how much is enough. Don't fool yourself. This is not for free. It's tuff love, but if one can't commit, one is destin to suck.
I can't imagine that any amateur or professional plays a piece from start to finish 200 times when practicing for a performance if that's what you mean. It's possible that the most difficult passages could be practiced that much but I even have doubts about that. Seems totally inappropriate to me.
Are we memorizing or reading? I never step on a stage with paper. My point was good performance is not free. Go ahead pick a number. I bet 200 repetitions, unless one practices mistakes, is bound to be relatively free from errors.


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Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
Animisha #2970311 04/22/20 07:14 PM
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So many suggestions already, i will be brief. If you're an amateur, and you are nervous when you perform, (not everybody is, but most people), then you will probably never play a perfect performance. Your aim should be to give an acceptable performance. I often played something for my wife and afterwards i complained that i made so many mistakes and she often replied that she hadn't noticed it.
Having said that, a good method to ingrain a piece is to play it mentally. This is very very strenuous, and that's why i only use as a last resort. It takes a lot of concentration, but if you can play a piece in your mind without sitting at the piano, then it's very hard to make mistakes while playing at the instrument.

Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
Farmerjones #2970354 04/22/20 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Farmerjones
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Farmerjones
The rub, is knowing how many reps? Start at 200. Yes, 200. Yes, if you can only play it twice a day, that's 100 days, prep work. Until one knows how much is enough. Don't fool yourself. This is not for free. It's tuff love, but if one can't commit, one is destin to suck.
I can't imagine that any amateur or professional plays a piece from start to finish 200 times when practicing for a performance if that's what you mean. It's possible that the most difficult passages could be practiced that much but I even have doubts about that. Seems totally inappropriate to me.
Are we memorizing or reading? I never step on a stage with paper. My point was good performance is not free. Go ahead pick a number. I bet 200 repetitions, unless one practices mistakes, is bound to be relatively free from errors.
Of course, a good performance is not free but that does not mean your idea makes sense or that it is used by professionals to prepare for a performance. If one was playing just an sonata lasting 30 minutes that would mean that after one had completely solved all the technical and musical problems of the piece one would spend an additional 100 hours practicing it from beginning to the end. 'Do you really think that's how accomplished pianists practice?











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Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
Animisha #2970432 04/23/20 02:16 AM
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In the beginning, everybody including myself have gone through the first phase of the learning curve which is learning the notes and getting them correctly. It's like playing an early 17th or 18th century piece with no dynamics. All we focus on include learning the notes, counting properly and keeping a steady rhythm.

As you climb higher up the ladder, the other intricacies of playing including dynamics, phrasing, foot pedaling start to matter. The last piece I worked on I got the notes and the counting isn't too bad. After listening to a quick recording, the playing didn't use enough sustain pedal to give a good sound. Back to experimenting again.

Playing the right notes is the matter of space repetition. Just repeating a piece 50x continuously without giving your hands and your brain time to rest won't produce result. The current piece I'm working on is short. I started 4 days ago and on average 1-pg a day. Your brain can only absorb so much info at a time so perfect 1 section of a piece and connect the next section.

Maybe the pieces you're playing are above your technical level (too advanced). So work on easier pieces and perfect them first. Once I was at a party. There was a digital piano in the room. Several kids took turns trying to sight-read a piece (1 page). After an hour none of them came close to reproducing the song. It's obvious that they were not good at reading music and probably the piece was above their level. In the beginning I wasn't a good reader so I'd go through the whole score and write in the letters corresponding to the notes. Except for the repeated notes and places that are obvious, the page would be full of letters & fingerings. I still write in the fingerings for technical pieces. A lot of times I'd learn the fingerings than the actual notes.

Re: How to practise for errorless performance?
Animisha #2970447 04/23/20 03:28 AM
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To be realistic, i think to perform a piece comfortably you need to have a technical level well above that piece. That includes not only pure technical skills but also being used to play pieces end to end, being able to control your nervousness ... Typically when you know there are difficult spots which you have trouble to control, it puts you into stress and in return stress creates errors. Or if you are not sure you can play the piece till the end and you fear errors, that usually creates errors, no matter how well you practiced. When you get more experienced, and you know you can play the piece, even if you make some minor small errors, you play naturally in a more relaxed mode with no stress and in rerurn you make less errors.

It is like when i practice climbing in a training spot and when i actually go for a real climb on a wall out there. I would pick a wall and a route which is way below my technical level to reduce the risk, especially if i am on a solo climb with no belay. Even when i do have a belay, i would still pick a route that i know i can climb to account for unexpected events, wheather, fatigue, injury, whatever. In piano there are no risks but essentially it is the same concept.

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