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How do you practise?
#3008951 07/31/20 11:24 PM
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As the title states. How do you practise?

When I first started playing I'd just play whatever and whenever I felt. As I've grown older (27) I now realise that I tend to play this game with myself that has now turned into my most effective routine yet.

I'm a person who like structure and lists. So, when I practise, I will start with ALL the major and minor scales followed by their arpeggio and broken chord. At a tempo that's not too fast or slow but always with a metronome. Ensuring each one is as clean and "musical" as possible. Then I'll play a few of Czerny's passage playing exercises. After that it's on to my weakest element of my piano playing... my sight reading, I find Paul Harris's books to be brilliant in my learning! I can see a huge improvement after a few months.

Then I move on to actual pieces. They go through my four stages of learning. Listening, Learning, Development, Playthough/Performance. Once one is chosen (after listening to it thoroughly whilst following along with the score) I'll try to learn 10/15 bars a day, more if it's not too hard for my level. I find that memorising it first is most important, then I'll work on the parts I'm weakest at (the development stage) this is tricky as it's tempting to play though the piece in it's entirety (which I do occasionally) but one HAS to focus on the weak parts. Repetition at slow tempos usually works for me. Now, it may take a while but once those weaknesses are ironed out I'll move the piece into the Playthrough stage. It may not be at performance tempo and have a few hiccups but at this point it's 90% there. Then after many repeated tries it goes into the performance stage, where I focus more on the piece as a whole. Trying to deliver it as emotionally varied as possible.

So far this method of learning has me highly motivated and learning more than ever before. Structure is key. I start at 6 every evening and finish at 9..... all week! Apart from weekends. I'm no concert pianist. But, I am a very confident player at a solid grade 7/8 level. With a push I tend to be able to play most pieces I set my mind to. Maybe it's the routine and the fear of missing my practise streak? Either way, It's getting me where I want to be (to be able to play my favourite pieces) Oh and one last thing...... I always keep a journal of my practises. Really helps you mark progress and actually SEE it as well as hear it.

I'd love to hear how you all do it?

All the best

Kirk


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Re: How do you practise?
Kgbow #3008971 08/01/20 01:37 AM
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Since we all are different and we therefore have different practice routines, I'll save cyberspace by not giving you my practice routine, but will comment on a couple of yours. That said, some of this will reflect some of what I do when practicing.

Originally Posted by Kgbow
As the title states. How do you practise?

[...]So, when I practise, I will start with ALL the major and minor scales followed by their arpeggio and broken chord. At a tempo that's not too fast or slow but always with a metronome. Ensuring each one is as clean and "musical" as possible. Then I'll play a few of Czerny's passage playing exercises.

All scales every day seems to me to be overkill. How long does it take you to do your scales? Why not have a rotating routine where you do a limited number of scales, arpeggios and broken chords and where you cover all keys in a reasonable number of days.

Originally Posted by Kgbow
Then I move on to actual pieces. They go through my four stages of learning. Listening, Learning, Development, Playthough/Performance. Once one is chosen (after listening to it thoroughly whilst following along with the score)

I've never been one to advocate listening extensively to others' performances of works that I am studying. I am one of those who advocate getting as much as I can from the score without relying on and inadvertently copying what others are doing.
Originally Posted by Kgbow
I'll try to learn 10/15 bars a day, more if it's not too hard for my level. I find that memorising it first is most important,

I think it more important to learn to be a good reader from the score while playing; memorization should come only for those works that I need to perform in public.

Originally Posted by Kgbow
then I'll work on the parts I'm weakest at (the development stage) this is tricky as it's tempting to play though the piece in it's entirety (which I do occasionally) but one HAS to focus on the weak parts. Repetition at slow tempos usually works for me. Now, it may take a while but once those weaknesses are ironed out I'll move the piece into the Playthrough stage. It may not be at performance tempo and have a few hiccups but at this point it's 90% there. Then after many repeated tries it goes into the performance stage, where I focus more on the piece as a whole. Trying to deliver it as emotionally varied as possible.
Most of this is good.

Originally Posted by Kgbow
So far this method of learning has me highly motivated and learning more than ever before. Structure is key. I start at 6 every evening and finish at 9..... all week!

This may be fine as long as the mind remains alert, attentive and active. On the other hand, a fixed daily routine of three hours at the piano can be counter-productive. Only do as much as you can without mental fatigue setting in which results in mechanical filling in of time which is not an efficient way to practice.
Originally Posted by Kgbow
[...] I always keep a journal of my practises. Really helps you mark progress and actually SEE it as well as hear it.

That's a personal thing; some people feel the need to keep a journal, some of us don't. If it helps, why not?

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: How do you practise?
Kgbow #3008988 08/01/20 04:25 AM
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I think it's a reasonable routine.
Just one thing caught my attention. Why do you play scales with a metronome?

And I'd probably add some 10 minutes of improvisation in the end.

Re: How do you practise?
BruceD #3009004 08/01/20 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by Kgbow
Then I move on to actual pieces. They go through my four stages of learning. Listening, Learning, Development, Playthough/Performance. Once one is chosen (after listening to it thoroughly whilst following along with the score)

I've never been one to advocate listening extensively to others' performances of works that I am studying. I am one of those who advocate getting as much as I can from the score without relying on and inadvertently copying what others are doing.
Originally Posted by Kgbow
I'll try to learn 10/15 bars a day, more if it's not too hard for my level. I find that memorising it first is most important,

I think it more important to learn to be a good reader from the score while playing; memorization should come only for those works that I need to perform in public.
I agree with BruceD.

Maybe we are dinosaurs compared to the generation who's going to save the planet, blah, blah (of whom the OP is undoubtedly one).......but whatever happened to learning by discovery (and discovery by learning)? And - yes, even by making mistakes? The sense of fulfilment & satisfaction when the score comes alive in your hands, and every interpretative decision is all yours, uninfluenced by others? Is the world all about learning by copying someone else now, and don't try anything that you don't know?

When I was a student, almost everything was new (even K331 Rondo and Pathétique sonata) before I looked at the score and tried it out, and the sense of discovery as the music starts to emerge as I sight-read it, then started learning it, and more and more of its riches emerge, was truly inspirational. Somewhat akin to the last uphill steps on the Inca Trail and then, Machu Picchu magically appears before your eyes as you crest the final rise to the Sun Gate. The reward is all the greater for having expended the time & effort over days to get there.

Even these days, when I've already heard all of the standard piano rep, I'd avoid listening to any recording before learning a new piece. But there's still nothing that can beat sight-reading through a completely unknown piece for the first time, which I still get to experience frequently (despite my immense knowledge & experience wink ) - for instance, Augusta Holmès's delightful Rêverie Tzigane which I just sight-read through, never having heard it before.

But I digress........


"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 you practise?
Kgbow #3009014 08/01/20 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Kgbow
As the title states. How do you practise?

When I first started playing I'd just play whatever and whenever I felt. As I've grown older (27) I now realise that I tend to play this game with myself that has now turned into my most effective routine yet.

I'm a person who like structure and lists. So, when I practise, I will start with ALL the major and minor scales followed by their arpeggio and broken chord. At a tempo that's not too fast or slow but always with a metronome. Ensuring each one is as clean and "musical" as possible. Then I'll play a few of Czerny's passage playing exercises. After that it's on to my weakest element of my piano playing... my sight reading, I find Paul Harris's books to be brilliant in my learning! I can see a huge improvement after a few months.

Then I move on to actual pieces. They go through my four stages of learning. Listening, Learning, Development, Playthough/Performance. Once one is chosen (after listening to it thoroughly whilst following along with the score) I'll try to learn 10/15 bars a day, more if it's not too hard for my level. I find that memorising it first is most important, then I'll work on the parts I'm weakest at (the development stage) this is tricky as it's tempting to play though the piece in it's entirety (which I do occasionally) but one HAS to focus on the weak parts. Repetition at slow tempos usually works for me. Now, it may take a while but once those weaknesses are ironed out I'll move the piece into the Playthrough stage. It may not be at performance tempo and have a few hiccups but at this point it's 90% there. Then after many repeated tries it goes into the performance stage, where I focus more on the piece as a whole. Trying to deliver it as emotionally varied as possible.

So far this method of learning has me highly motivated and learning more than ever before. Structure is key. I start at 6 every evening and finish at 9..... all week! Apart from weekends. I'm no concert pianist. But, I am a very confident player at a solid grade 7/8 level. With a push I tend to be able to play most pieces I set my mind to. Maybe it's the routine and the fear of missing my practise streak? Either way, It's getting me where I want to be (to be able to play my favourite pieces) Oh and one last thing...... I always keep a journal of my practises. Really helps you mark progress and actually SEE it as well as hear it.

I'd love to hear how you all do it?

All the best

Kirk

I swear I had to read this back to make sure I hadn't posted it many years ago. Whilst this all worked for me (And still largely does), what I found most difficult was having something to focus towards. I also found that, whilst this diligent and detailed method of practise worked for me, it was rather harder to implement on students!

Re: How do you practise?
Kgbow #3009017 08/01/20 06:47 AM
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In addition:

Bruce and Benn make some excellent points and certainly, for me, found this method of practise hard to maintain over a period of time (a bit like dieting!)

Tanker has an excellent suggested routine, which allows you to focus on various aspects of technique, freeing up time to focus your efforts elsewhere.

This was particularly good for me as I just couldn't find the time (largely through working) to spend so long playing over things I already knew (such as scales)

I also started to relook at my SR practise. Although the Paul Harris books are wonderful and structured, I came to realise that I'll never actually play those pieces in public. instead, I started to SR sections of pieces that I'd be more likely to play (largely MT rep) There's a heck of a lot of music out there and only so much time!

Of course, the drawback to this was, again, that loss of structure and something to aim for.

I've barely played at all since lockdown happened and my work stopped although I've played a little boogie woogie, inspired by the Jools Holland video in another thread.

Re: How do you practise?
Kgbow #3009086 08/01/20 10:37 AM
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My practices are almost always:

  • warm up
  • newest piece I'm learning (this is often very focused practice, looking at a particular section or even just a few measures)
  • piece(s) I'm trying to polish (this is often playing through an entire piece, often with a goal of performance, playing with friends and/or recording)


If I'm being "diligent," warm up starts with sightreading practice, and then either scales or something like Hanon or Dohnányi.

If I'm not being "diligent" I warm up by playing something in my repertoire, maybe 2-3 pieces.

These days, more often than not, I'm being diligent whome


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Re: How do you practise?
Kgbow #3009087 08/01/20 10:41 AM
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fatar, what is "MT rep"?

Re sightreading, I go back and forth between sightreading something like the Music for Millions books or something that's more like the music I play, both in terms of style and level of difficulty. When I sightread something that's right at my playing level, then I tend to only sightread like a page of it. I like switching back and forth, and since I started doing this, I feel like my overall sightreading has really improved.

Eventually I'd like to return to using the Bach Chorales book for sightreading, but it's a different kind of practice and I stopped using that book for sightreading practice because I felt like it was too hard...


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Re: How do you practise?
Kgbow #3009100 08/01/20 11:11 AM
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My pieces wind up in 3 categories: polishing, learning, keeping alive. Practice approach is different for each.
The last category I find most challenging as they are not always played regularly and I want to enjoy the piece while not developing bad habits. So, if anything starts to break I try to be disciplined to correct before moving on.

Re: How do you practise?
Kgbow #3009112 08/01/20 11:41 AM
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10-15 bars a day, how do you learn that many in 1 day? I wish I could learn 10-15 bars a day. I could probably play them each separately but then would take me weeks to play all 10-15 together with a pleasant sound.

Re: How do you practise?
Kgbow #3009128 08/01/20 12:18 PM
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Some great feed back here. In response to all the scales. It takes about 10 minutes of my practise to get from C to C. I work in 5ths. I find it rather hypnotic and focuses my mind going through them all BEFORE I go to play. It's also a great warm up.

The reason I'm personally stuck on not sight reading is 9 years of professional banjo playing in a bluegrass band, during that time I was actually nominated for UK Country musician of the year, twice! I came runner up twice too! laugh I learned to play by ear and improvise. During this time I played piano in a couple jazz and blues outfits. Mostly improvised and by ear. So I almost always played by ear. It may've given me one heck of nicely tuned ear but my sight reading suffered. It also gave me the ability to quite literally remember most things I play the first few times around.

Bennevis, I find your comments about "discovering" the score, amazing! That's long been a dream of mine. As a child I found the dots on paper so mystifying almost magical! But my younger (13) self was too impatient and I learnt by ear or midi instead. Now, I'm at a level where I can start to hear a piece as I look at the score. But, I'm still working hard at my reading.

As for my three hours... I actually could play more but I'm married and can't neglect my family for too long. Of course each one of us is different. I've often been told "You're slightly autistic" or "I think you have a touch of something" I honestly believe that we are all on the spectrum and each of us is made differently. Some can sight read brilliantly off the bat. Some can't. Some can remember 10/15 bars a day.. some a whole piece! Some only a few bars. It's different for all of us. Which is why I'm so interested in hearing how everyone else does it? smile


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Re: How do you practise?
ShiroKuro #3009187 08/01/20 03:22 PM
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I think how one practices is very much determined by long term goals and the amount of time you have to practice. Are you playing in a competition or public performance? Are you playing for a test or master class? Are you playing for pleasure. Do you have a full time job outside of music? Do you have a family? All this will effect the amount of time you practice and whether you spend time on scales and etudes. It also depends on what difficulty of music you are playing. If you are a beginner or intermediate player, scales and exercises are probably a good idea. If you are advanced, you might not need to spend time on them.

I play for pleasure and I play advanced music. Like ShiroKuro, I start with the newest piece I am working on and do focused, detailed practice of a particular section or measures. When my focus starts to slip, I may play the new piece from the beginning to see how my work is fitting in with the whole thing. If my brain is still working, I might play through pieces I am polishing or keeping fresh. That's it. No scales, no exercises. I practice until I'm tired or lose focus. This could be a half hour to an hour and half, then I step away and usually return several times that day.


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: How do you practise?
ShiroKuro #3009192 08/01/20 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
fatar, what is "MT rep"?

Musical Theatre rep. It's not what I'm drawn to, but it is what most of my work entails.

Re: How do you practise?
Kgbow #3009225 08/01/20 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Kgbow
[...]So, when I practise, I will start with ALL the major and minor scales followed by their arpeggio and broken chord. At a tempo that's not too fast or slow [...]
Originally Posted by Kgbow
Some great feed back here. In response to all the scales. It takes about 10 minutes of my practise to get from C to C. I work in 5ths. I find it rather hypnotic and focuses my mind going through them all BEFORE I go to play. It's also a great warm up.
[...]

It's just a matter of curiosity on my part: I wonder how you get through all the major and minor scales, their arpeggios and broken chords in ten minutes. Do your scales cover four octaves ascending and descending? Do your arpeggios for each scale (over four octaves?) include root position, 1st and 2nd inversions? That would be 24 scales, 72 arpeggios and at least 24 sets of broken chords.

On another note (pun intended), do you ever play your scales using what is often called the "formula pattern" which incorporates, over four octaves, parallel and contrary motion:

[Linked Image]

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: How do you practise?
Kgbow #3009231 08/01/20 05:18 PM
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I don't know why, but I always prefer scales in contrary motion, it's somehow more satisfying to play them that way...


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Re: How do you practise?
Kgbow #3009256 08/01/20 07:15 PM
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I do a lot of work with mental practise. I go through pieces in my head and jump back and forth between sections looking for weak spots. I only feel secure when I do that. I don't know if it's efficient, but I can do it anywhere. I'm actually going through a piece as I type this.

Re: How do you practise?
Kgbow #3009290 08/01/20 09:18 PM
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Day 1 session 1
Hanon no 1, up and down three times, speed depending on frame of mind.

2 octave white key scales in Major, Minor, harmonic and melodic.

Work on piece from Schaum method book.

May play one of the three pieces that I have memorised.

Day 1 session 2
Hanon no 1, up and down three times, speed depending on frame of mind.

Piano Marvel

Day 2 session 1
Hanon no 1, up and down three times, speed depending on frame of mind.

2 octave black key scales in Major and Minor (slowly adding harmonic and melodic, a couple per week)

Work on piece from Schaum method book.

May play one of the three pieces that I have memorised.

Day 2 session 2
Hanon no 1, up and down three times, speed depending on frame of mind.

Piano Marvel

Day 3 session 1
Hanon no 1, up and down three times, speed depending on frame of mind.

White keys 1 octave scales, I, IV, V, V7 chords and arpeggios in Major and Minor harmonic.

Work on piece from Schaum method book.

May play one of the three pieces that I have memorised.

Day 3 session 2
Hanon no 1, up and down three times, speed depending on frame of mind.

Piano Marvel.

Repeat.

Written out like that, it sounds very boring but I don’t find it boring at all.

Re: How do you practise?
Kgbow #3009293 08/01/20 09:39 PM
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I don't do any practice on the piano, as little as possible on the Virgil Practice Clavier and rarely scales or traditional exercises. I did when I was younger but in retrospect it's debatable how much good it did me. I like my music to evolve from day to day, always reaching out for new sounds and movements. Each to his own, but most of the routines described on forums would be a sure recipe to stifle what little creative impulse I have.


"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: How do you practise?
Kgbow #3009302 08/01/20 10:22 PM
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I only played scales for the piano exams so stopped them soon after. My practice now is very simple and just pieces. I normally have two at a time but shorter pieces I have thre. When I play to others or I finish the piece I move on and I don't practice them after that. I did a few czery exercise a few months ago but my teacher went through the book and chose one or two at a time that he said was useful. then was told to stopped when I learnt the skill. I have a trill exercise instead now he gave me that takes several minutes. I have always the rest of my time just picked up a lot of music and playing it. I used to try this soon after I first started. I'm not sure if it counts as practice. Ive never had this problem of not being able to read scores so I think this can help that. I have never memorise or learnt by ear anything so this I have noticed is a problem many have described who have learnt other ways to learn pieces. I seem to have only retained one piece in my memory. Unfortunately it is fur Elise !

Last edited by Moo :); 08/01/20 10:29 PM.
Re: How do you practise?
BruceD #3009482 08/02/20 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by Kgbow
[...]So, when I practise, I will start with ALL the major and minor scales followed by their arpeggio and broken chord. At a tempo that's not too fast or slow [...]
Originally Posted by Kgbow
Some great feed back here. In response to all the scales. It takes about 10 minutes of my practise to get from C to C. I work in 5ths. I find it rather hypnotic and focuses my mind going through them all BEFORE I go to play. It's also a great warm up.
[...]

It's just a matter of curiosity on my part: I wonder how you get through all the major and minor scales, their arpeggios and broken chords in ten minutes. Do your scales cover four octaves ascending and descending? Do your arpeggios for each scale (over four octaves?) include root position, 1st and 2nd inversions? That would be 24 scales, 72 arpeggios and at least 24 sets of broken chords.

On another note (pun intended), do you ever play your scales using what is often called the "formula pattern" which incorporates, over four octaves, parallel and contrary motion:

[Linked Image]

Regards,


I play similar motion 4 octaves, arpeggio and then its broken chord all HT. I then play the Harmonic minor and do the same. I'll pick two or three (at random to play contrary motion) then contrary motion chromatic. I'll only play each one once. Then move onto my Czerny. I find the whole process takes 10/15 minutes.

I've never heard of the formula method, I'd be interested to try it smile

My old college music teacher, once a concert pianist himself. Always started his practise with all his scales. He did play for 5 hours a day. I remember thinking, my god this guy is a tank. He could even still play then and he was in his 80's at that time. I think thats perhaps where I copied it from?


If your work speaks for itself, then perhaps don't interrupt it?
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