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What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
#2980006 05/16/20 04:40 PM
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A couple days ago I finished 7 consecutive days of piano practice. It was a very productive week and I learned and 'polished' a piece to about 80%. However, both yesterday and today I've been feeling like my brain is toast and I just can't concentrate on learning my next piece, regardless of how much I try to focus. I'm feeling a little guilty for taking two days off.

Would like to know what the piano practice schedule of other folks on this forum is like.


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Re: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
SLQ #2980008 05/16/20 04:51 PM
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I’m like you. After a few days of practice, my brain wants a couple days off. I’m in RCM 1 and currently my practice is about 1hr, 5-6 days a week. However, my schedule is not set in stone. It can be more or less, depending on how busy my work gets. My work requires a lot of brain power, so when I’m really exhausted from work, my piano practice suffers. I also never guilt myself about missing practice or practicing too little. I’m in no hurry and don’t have a timeline to finish things. I just go with the flow and enjoy the process.

For me, there definitely is an optimal time of practice after which there is no additional beneficial returns. I stop at that point and that point is different every day.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 05/16/20 04:53 PM.

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Re: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
SLQ #2980016 05/16/20 05:14 PM
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I can echo most everything WeakLeftHand said. I just finished a week-long rather heavy effort to get a Debussy prelude ready for the current ABF recital, and the day after handing it in, I did not touch the keys. There was simply no motivation for it in me at all.

I often have days away from the piano, and I never feel guilty about it. From my perspective, every stretch of activity needs rest at the end of it. I mean, when even God takes a day off ... smile


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Re: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
SLQ #2980017 05/16/20 05:16 PM
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Under the current circumstances, I practice twice a day.

The first practice will be a short finger warm up, some scales and chords followed by practicing a piece from the Schaum method books that I am following.
I would usually add some arpeggios but I've had a funny feeling in my wrist the last couple of days and decided to give them a rest for now.

The second practice will be carrying on with the ‘Piano Marvel' exercises.

Re: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
SLQ #2980030 05/16/20 05:50 PM
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I practice every day. Some days go better than others, but I always get something done regardless. I don't always practice the same thing every day, though I do try to spend several consecutive days on a piece I am just starting, so that I don't lose the progress I've made (i.e., it goes to long term memory).


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Re: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
SLQ #2980037 05/16/20 06:18 PM
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I've been thinking of various scheduling strategies such as: 5 days ON/2 days OFF or 3 days ON/1 day OFF/2 days ON/1 day off etc.

I'm very eager and have such a strong passion for lessons but then after a few days I just can't even look at another measure.

Thanks for your replies.


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Re: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
SLQ #2980039 05/16/20 06:27 PM
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You might factor in some time to just PLAY rather than practice... that is what I find to be energizing


"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: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
dogperson #2980051 05/16/20 07:04 PM
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I don't do any practice at all in the usual sense. The nearest thing to it would be ten minutes morning and night on the Virgil Practice Clavier to keep my physical technique.

Originally Posted by dogperson
You might factor in some time to just PLAY rather than practice... that is what I find to be energizing

Yes, at the piano all is music and creation for me. Anything else is a waste of both instrument and consciousness. It appals me how much time I wasted in my youth grinding away for hours at all the usual difficult pieces. The word "practice" implicitly suggests the existence of another state, the "real thing". I prefer the real thing all the time.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
SLQ #2980059 05/16/20 07:25 PM
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There is research that breaking studying or learning into 20 or 25 minute segments gets better results. I don't remember all the details, but you can read about the the pomodoro technique. I think it works - I'll practice something, start to feel tired, look at the watch, and it's been 25-30 minutes. Time for a break!

It either works, or I have trained myself to stop at about 25 minutes!

No need to get very detailed about it, I think. Work on something, rest a bit, work some more, rinse and repeat. I'm also a big fan of two-a-days. We used to practice sports that way 50 years ago when I was in high school. Once in the morning before school, then again after school. Now I practice piano early in the morning and then again in the evening. You can't recover without rest, and your mind will sometimes solve problems for you when you rest, sleep, or exercise.

Sam

Re: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
SLQ #2980094 05/16/20 09:21 PM
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When I do practice I set a timer so that I work in 15-minute periods. It works in my case - when I do go back to the keyboard I can play more evenly and smoothly. Three 15-minute sessions just on repertoire, about 5-10 minutes on ear training from the RCM website with an additional 5-10 minutes of work on my technical requirements for level 2.

I understand that taking a break is part of piano training since ideas and technique can be consolidated. Taking a day or two off is also important to recharge for the next sessions of learning... it's just that often I feel I need to strive for greater and greater efficiency with time. Sam S, taking about 5 minutes to review and play a piece just before hitting the haystack at night has been beneficial in my case.


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Re: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
SLQ #2980104 05/16/20 09:39 PM
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Pretty much every morning, after coffee and before anything else. Sometimes there are intervening activities between coffee and piano, but that is not my preference.


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Re: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
SLQ #2980128 05/17/20 12:33 AM
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I practice in the evenings while my husband cooks dinner, about 45 minutes, depending on what we're having. I'll start wih scales and chords, then split the rest of the time half for learning new pieces, and half for pieces I'm polishing.

Re: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
SLQ #2980146 05/17/20 03:34 AM
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I play almost every day, at the start I could probably only manage about ten minutes before fatigue set in but now an hour seems to slip away while I think I've been at the piano for less than half that.

I don't structure when I play, I play whenever there is some spare time and I'm not too tired, essentially when I feel like playing. This is for enjoyment after all.

I do like to play one piece I'm learning for half an hour or so, then go away, do something else and then come back to learning a second piece when I'm ready to do so - the brain seems to benefit from some 'processing time' between learning sessions.

Re: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
SLQ #2980150 05/17/20 04:02 AM
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I have exhaustion syndrom (burnout) and I cannot practise for long stretches of time. But I try to practise 15-20 minutes several times throughout the day. Often, only in the mornings, because I am too tired in the afternoons. First session is scales or arpeggios, and sight reading. Next sessions are the lessons I am working on.
If my brain is toast, I always, always stop practising. I would only learn mistakes anyway.


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Re: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
SLQ #2980210 05/17/20 09:03 AM
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Though I've been snowed under with my work (with the pandemic) until very recently, piano has been my relaxation time.

Even when I return home completely exhausted (mentally & physically), and think I just want a quick shower followed by bed, as soon as I sit down at the piano and start playing something - anything that's in my memory, from Bach to Beethoven to Brahms to Bartók - I forget about what's been happening around me, and the tiredness slip away as I throw myself into the music. The more busy my fingers and arms, the better to relieve the mental - and physical - fatigue.

In other words, while I'm not bothering with working on new pieces during these stressful times as I normally would, I'm still playing every day (though a lot less than before), but I don't have any pressure to prepare any new pieces (as my recitals have been put on hold).

Every pianist should be able to play piano just for 'relaxation', or for 'stress relief' (or whatever you want to call it) - whether it's a nice song you've learnt in the past, or sight-reading simple stuff with nice tunes, or just bashing through something loud and raucous (as I like to do wink )......

If piano playing is always mentally fatiguing (and you can't find anything stress-relieving about it), chances are, it's the first thing to go and you won't maintain it long term.


"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: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
SLQ #2980214 05/17/20 09:17 AM
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This is what one kid does on the piano to relieve stress (with the help of a friend) wink :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IPkNbuaSAg


"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: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
SLQ #2980248 05/17/20 10:26 AM
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I do practice everyday. Probably averaging 1.5 - 2 hrs. (That has been harder to do during the pandemic). I just don’t think I would make the progress I wanted if I didn’t. However, what I think may not be reality! Like many others I often practice in small sessions, and never more than 45 at a time. In fact I would say I probably do one really focused 45 min session a day, then maybe another 30 min session and the rest in small chunks.

I do often set timers. Sometimes to help myself focus on a challenging new piece I may feel intimidated by or maybe haven’t grown to love. And sometimes to keep my practice session moving forward and not get bogged down on just one thing. I can definitely over practice a measure that may just benefit better from some good sleep.

I know some people are advocating to sometimes just sit down to play and not practice. Which is great advice, but for me in the beginning stages it always felt like practice. And I really struggled wondering when it might sometime eventually feel like I could just play. It did finally happen, but it was about 5-6 months into lessons as an adult and I did have prior experience as a child.


Another thing that keeps me practicing everyday is guilt, which you mentioned too SLQ. It’s odd that I can easily take the day off practicing horn which I consider my main instrument and not feel guilty at all. I try to examine why I feel that guilt for piano. I assume for me and others it is a combination of things.

1. We spent our hard earned money on our instruments.
2. We are adults and just have less years left on the planet to learn.
3. We struggle being able to self identify as a pianist and feel the need to get better to be able to do that. Possibly this is a bit of imposter syndrome.
4. We worry if we take a day off we will slide into not playing ever again.


None of those things are true for me and horn and all of the are true for me and piano. I am curious if others may have other reasons for guilt.

Re: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
bennevis #2980274 05/17/20 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
This is what one kid does on the piano to relieve stress (with the help of a friend) wink :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IPkNbuaSAg
Now THAT looks like a lot of fun! What I saw in that video is playful interaction between two people who both love the piano. I would love to have that!


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Re: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
SLQ #2980275 05/17/20 11:38 AM
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I haven't practiced for about two weeks now, since I have no lessons, I have no deadline. But I play every day throughout the day, scales, octaves, sightreading, playing old pieces from memory, make up something. The piano cover is left open and I'd go to the piano probably some 15-20 times a day and play I don't know how long. I haven't learned anything new.

Re: What's Your Piano Practice Schedule?
J.Kennedy #2980295 05/17/20 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by J.Kennedy
...I am curious if others may have other reasons for guilt.
1. I may have worked hard at my job all week but if my Saturday and Sunday are free then I MUST practice piano because "one makes hay while the sun shines", right? If I don't then I'm being "lazy", "unmotivated", "unproductive" and "inefficient". If I'm inefficient then my value as a human drops.

2. Very goal oriented. I know I'm being petty but I want that piece of paper at the end of every level to prove that I did all this hard work. I envision a wall with framed RCM certificates from Preparatory A all the way to Level 10... and even, possibly, my ARCT. If I don't practice I'll never get that.

3. I need some form of beauty in my life and music fulfills that. Going to work to earn enough money to afford a rent so that I can have a place where I can sleep enough hours to get enough rest so that I can go back to work and make someone else rich is such drudgery, and at times seems a little pointless. Piano instead is both meaningful and beautiful.

… and the next one is a bit odd, I know (you're all welcome for the laugh :-D)...

4. I'm 47 years of age, I'm single, never been married, I have no children, I rent, I'm short, balding, bespectacled, socially awkward and never been very popular but at the very least some people who personally know me think that I'm smart. So basically the only thing I have control over is my brain. The more skilled I become at playing the piano the smarter I'll get and therefore become a better version of myself (whether this is true or not... ?) If I miss practice then I'll never become a "beautiful" human and won't be adding "worth" to myself.

So, there you go everyone. It's a bit of a heavier post, for sure! However, I like to be candid and honest and not hide who I really am.


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