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How do organize your practice?
#2997920 07/02/20 03:21 PM
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Hi All -

I would like to know what methods you use for practice routines? Such as,

Do you plan each day before you begin?
Do you plan further out than a day?
How strict and focused are you when you sit at the piano?
Do you stick the plan at hand?

Reason I ask is I have a handful of items I'm always working on but I feel like some get neglected or burn out, etc. Any strategies or methods you find useful please share. And the questions above are just some examples please feel free to add anything else. Thanks!

Last edited by Sebs; 07/02/20 03:21 PM.
Re: How do organize your practice?
Sebs #2997965 07/02/20 05:47 PM
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Here is what I do, but everybody is different.
Before I begin practicing, I set multiple goals that I will try to achieve by the end of the day, such as polishing, speeding up, or learning a section of a piece. I also set goals that I want to achieve by the end of the week, such as learning an entire piece or a long section of it.
Most of my practice sessions are short where I just work on one or two pieces and try to achieve the goal I set for them. Sometimes, I have longer practice sessions where I start with scales and arpeggios and then do a little or a lot of everything. If you feel that some things are being neglected or burned out, you should try doing shorter practice sessions, where you just focus on one piece. You can have multiple short practice sessions throughout the day.
In my opinion, having a goal is very important.

Re: How do organize your practice?
Sebs #2997989 07/02/20 06:27 PM
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At the moment, my practice is not organized. During the summer I usually spend time away from home to visit relatives. There is a time difference but this year I'm not traveling anywhere. I would practice late at night or early in the morning like my body is already adjusted to a different time zone.

I'm in adult group class (Fall & Spring sessions) that ended a month ago. The last piece we worked on was out of a book full of Jazz pieces. The last 2 pieces the class (connected with Zoom) worked on were "Stormy Weather" & "Summertime". I'm done with both and also finished "Over the Rainbow". I'm now working on another Jazzy piece on my own. The pieces I'm working on are not too long and usually 3-4 pages on sheet music. I usually manage to learn a piece sufficiently well in 3 weeks at most except for the Contrapunctus #1 (BWV1080) by Bach which is in 4 pages but much more difficult.

I do practice close to an hour each day. Some days the practice time will be longer because I stayed up past midnight so when the practice time during the day is added will be over an hour. I tend to hesitate learning new pieces and like to repeat sections of pieces I know well and made satisfactory recordings.

Re: How do organize your practice?
Sebs #2997999 07/02/20 06:55 PM
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I mark all the problem sections/measures in pieces with removable transparent flags and working through them is always the practice goal. I am very strict about this but allow some flexibility in choosing the piece or the section depending on time and mood. It just seems to balance out.

I do not set a weekly goal as some problems will be resolved... and some not. The flag is just removed when all is good.


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Re: How do organize your practice?
Sebs #2998009 07/02/20 07:14 PM
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Thanks for the replies.

I practice about an hour daily (usually 2-3 sessions) and since I have a bunch of items they just get little attention each day. As my teacher has me working on lots of technique, etudes, minuets, and one piece of my choosing. I really enjoy the lessons and love the material it just seems like a lot but maybe this expected? I was wondering if I should request to her that we work on less items overall? For example, 20min technique, 20min on minuets, 20min on my piece, etc. So it seems like I take forever to progress pieces but then when I look at total time spent on items for the month it's only about 8-10 hours total. I'm progressing for sure but just curious of what others think. Would you suggest I reduce total items and focus more time daily on those few items? And this is not a complaint or me not happy with progress I am just simply trying to gain knowledge as I know many of you have been down these roads and have deep knowledge.

Re: How do organize your practice?
Sebs #2998030 07/02/20 08:28 PM
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Sebs
Why don’t you discuss with your teacher how to allocate the time? Since we haven’t heard you play and don’t know your strengths and weaknesses, it is hard to give you a useful answer.

Remember that sometimes you can only recognize progress by not thinking about day to day but long-term


"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

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: How do organize your practice?
dogperson #2998039 07/02/20 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Sebs
Why don’t you discuss with your teacher how to allocate the time? Since we haven’t heard you play and don’t know your strengths and weaknesses, it is hard to give you a useful answer.

Remember that sometimes you can only recognize progress by not thinking about day to day but long-term

I often ask her for some rough ideas on time allocation such as, "Should I work on technique daily, should I work on music more, what percent of practice should be technique versus pieces" I usually get a reply like do "what feels good, maybe today no technique and maybe tomorrow almost all technique, etc" She leaves it up to me. I know there is no exact science but Im just wondering if I'm using my time well and properly.

Another example, as I discussed here before is the tons of time spent on a simple learning piece. For example, the minuet in G, I learned it polished it, played it well, she even said so but she still has me playing it. Can I ask the benefit of hammering a piece so much that I really don't care to memorized or play anymore? I even told her this and we still play it but maybe theres more value to get out of this process?

Re: How do organize your practice?
Sebs #2998050 07/02/20 09:13 PM
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Why don't you get a volume or two of suitable pieces for your level (e.g. Denes Agay's Easy Classics to Moderns - which has that Minuet in it, BTW) and ask your teacher if she'll teach you other pieces from it?

Show her you're interested in learning more pieces - but not ones completely out of your league like that pop arrangement you tried to learn recently.


"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 do organize your practice?
Sebs #2998117 07/03/20 04:43 AM
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Beginners often overthink this way too much. There are some general guidelines but it's much more important to be consistent over the long term and stay focused during your practice time. I would do some technique and some sight reading every day and use the remaining time to work on pieces. If you can't do serious work on every piece every day then rotate them every other day.

Always begin with a goal in mind like "today I'm going to work on dynamics" or "I'm going to make that left hand lighter".

Write down what you practiced and look at it the next day to decide what to do.

Rather than "routines" focus on practice techniques such as chaining, cycling, inserting gaps, practicing in rhythms, etc. If you don't know what these are take a look at Josh Wright and Graham Fitch videos.

Originally Posted by Sebs
Another example, as I discussed here before is the tons of time spent on a simple learning piece. For example, the minuet in G, I learned it polished it, played it well, she even said so but she still has me playing it. Can I ask the benefit of hammering a piece so much that I really don't care to memorized or play anymore? I even told her this and we still play it but maybe theres more value to get out of this process?

Did she tell you why she's keeping you on that piece? Did she mention specific things like articulation, dynamics, evenness that she wants you to work on? Often there are many things to be learned from a piece after you have learned the notes (the notes are just the beginning, in fact), but if your teacher can't formulate these things specifically and the answers are all wishy-washy I would change teachers.

Re: How do organize your practice?
Qazsedcft #2998189 07/03/20 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Beginners often overthink this way too much. There are some general guidelines but it's much more important to be consistent over the long term and stay focused during your practice time. I would do some technique and some sight reading every day and use the remaining time to work on pieces. If you can't do serious work on every piece every day then rotate them every other day.

Always begin with a goal in mind like "today I'm going to work on dynamics" or "I'm going to make that left hand lighter".

Write down what you practiced and look at it the next day to decide what to do.

Rather than "routines" focus on practice techniques such as chaining, cycling, inserting gaps, practicing in rhythms, etc. If you don't know what these are take a look at Josh Wright and Graham Fitch videos.

Originally Posted by Sebs
Another example, as I discussed here before is the tons of time spent on a simple learning piece. For example, the minuet in G, I learned it polished it, played it well, she even said so but she still has me playing it. Can I ask the benefit of hammering a piece so much that I really don't care to memorized or play anymore? I even told her this and we still play it but maybe theres more value to get out of this process?

Did she tell you why she's keeping you on that piece? Did she mention specific things like articulation, dynamics, evenness that she wants you to work on? Often there are many things to be learned from a piece after you have learned the notes (the notes are just the beginning, in fact), but if your teacher can't formulate these things specifically and the answers are all wishy-washy I would change teachers.


Definitely can overthink it here for sure. This very helpful and she has me doing all sorts of things with technique like you mentioned. It sounds like its very common to have a handful of items to work on when practicing. Thats what I was primarily wondering about. She never said why but I will ask what I am expected to gain from continued work on it. I think she wants me to enjoy the phase of knowing a piece and polishing it more and more.

Re: How do organize your practice?
Sebs #2998292 07/03/20 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Sebs
...It sounds like its very common to have a handful of items to work on when practicing. Thats what I was primarily wondering about. She never said why but I will ask what I am expected to gain from continued work on it.

I’ll second what bennevis said, if you don’t like a song, find one you do want to polish. My first song with a new teacher I initially liked, but it was really sad. She suggested we both bring potential new pieces the next week. I ended up picking out two pieces. One I brought, that was over my head, but thought she might know an easier version. She said, it might be fun to try it, but asked if I was ok that it might take 6months or more. I said sure, since I really wanted to learn it. And then we found an easier piece I’d be able to play to the end a lot sooner.

I had the same questions. When I first started, my teacher gave me lots of stuff to practice for a couple reasons. First, he said he thought if he gave me a lots of different things, I’d practice longer. Thinking I’d get bored with the same thing over and over. After a while he started asking if I wanted a little more or less near the end of the lesson.

I also asked him what to focus on too, like 10minutes on this or that should I follow like our lessons? He said in the beginning there is so much to learn, it didn’t really matter what I did every day. I needed to improve sight reading, technique, rhythm, my ear, etc. Tony said the same thing, work on what you want. He said something like right now any practice is good. The important thing is to get into a habit of practicing daily. It was more important to practice every day. After a few months I got a journal and kept track of what I was doing and he would tell me, where I needed to spend more time. He didn’t tell me to get a journal, I just did it and showed him. You could try that? He also said, “Don’t only practice the fun stuff, do the hard, too.”

Re: How do organize your practice?
Sebs #3006935 07/26/20 11:07 AM
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Hannon exercises for warmup
Scale(s)
Sight Reading
Learn/practice songs
Play something fun for cool down

Plan then modify based upon results. Work on difficult measures

Re: How do organize your practice?
Sebs #3007027 07/26/20 03:48 PM
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I normally have no organization except I won't play mindlessly going through the motions. If I have a recital coming up then I get very organized to secure it. Otherwise I just hang out next to or at the piano all day, and end up playing a lot. When friends come over, I still sit at the piano by habit. That's my station.

Re: How do organize your practice?
Sebs #3007091 07/26/20 07:13 PM
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I might have an overly simple way of looking at practicing, but I start with my newest piece or my worst piece, and then I start with the part of a piece I feel the least comfortable with, either note-wise or interpretation. I do a lot of slow practice. I also use the metronome a lot. I also work on memory from the very beginning. I never used to do that. I would just play and play until one day, hey, boom... I don't need music anymore! However, middle-age memory can act wonky, especially onstage. So I try to really LOOK at what I'm doing and commit what I see to memory, rather than just the sound and how it feels.


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Re: How do organize your practice?
Sebs #3007128 07/26/20 09:10 PM
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I’m going more and more towards doing what I enjoy and not stressing over I need to do X minutes of X and Y. I’m still a beginner but I’m learning that crafting practice sessions is a huge skill on its own. I do notice as time goes on my sessions are more focused and enjoyable.

Re: How do organize your practice?
Sebs #3007228 07/27/20 06:40 AM
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I have a teacher and had lessons before June when the teacher has her summer break. The routine starts with 1 exercise out of the Hanon 60 exercises book and 1 piece out of the Czerny Etudes book. Then a piece out of the Jazz or Classical selections book arranged for easy piano.

The past 2 weeks I've been learning and putting finishing touches to a piece to be submitted to the upcoming PW Recital #59. I do know the melody but had to practice the bass accompaniment that goes with it.

In the beginning most students including myself focused on early 18th century pieces that were played on a clavichord or harpsichord with no dynamics written in or require foot pedal use. When you start playing post-18th century pieces, you start to worry about dynamics & using sustain at appropriate times to enhance a piece.

Re: How do organize your practice?
thepianoplayer416 #3007253 07/27/20 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
In the beginning most students including myself focused on early 18th century pieces that were played on a clavichord or harpsichord with no dynamics written in or require foot pedal use. When you start playing post-18th century pieces, you start to worry about dynamics & using sustain at appropriate times to enhance a piece.

You must work out dynamics and sustain no matter what piece you play. And there are clear dynamic indications in all of Bach pieces for example, you just need to know how to read the score. You can choose to ignore the dynamics to make it easier but that does not mean that it is what should be done. BTW the clavichord has dynamic capabilities, even if limited compared to a piano, but more than an harpsichord and all the fortepiano of late 18th century have dynamic capability, so to say dynamics are important only for pieces post 18th century is musically incorrect.


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