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Hi,

here's a thought (and I'm aware I'm not the first one to think of that)
I'm playing mvt 1 of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and of course my eyes are set on the 3rd mvt for mid-2040 wink

So I looked at the score, the first 6 bars to be precise, and I thought to myself: this makes for good warm up and possibly practice. Which is nice since it's also very catchy even though I do not intend to play it as a whole.

My question is thus:
Do any of you also do this? If so which are memorable sections of other famous pieces you would try?

Ideally they sound great and are not too varied or too long and emphasize a specific technique?

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A piece that is nothing but repeating the same beat pattern from top to bottom is the Prelude in C from the Bach “Well-Tempered Clavier”. People ever performed it in recitals. The focus is on note accuracy & sight reading if you’re not playing from memory.

My teacher got her students into playing Czerny Etudes. They are used as exercise pieces but can be student performance pieces as well.

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Warmup: I play sections of older repertoire that I either really enjoy playing or needs to be kept current in order to prevent lengthy work later to keep it at performance level.

Exercises: I don’t look for exercises in other music. I develop exercises from the problem sections of music I am currently learning. Therefore I know the exercise fits the technique I am working on... and not just something random.


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Originally Posted by dogperson
Exercises: I don’t look for exercises in other music. I develop exercises from the problem sections of music I am currently learning. Therefore I know the exercise fits the technique I am working on... and not just something random.
I think this is the most logical and commonly used approach.

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Not only can you use sections of music as an exercise, but you can also rearrange sections and turn them into sections. In fact, that's a way of practising. For example, an arpeggiated section can be turned into block chords, notes can be taken out and put back in, rhythms changed etc. Yesterday I reviewed part of a piece I'd done before. There was a series of chords in 2nd inversion - I played them in root position which made some patterns more obvious. There was a sequence - I had one played it in a bunch of different keys (found the practice recording).

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I vote for a set of exercises with slow, gradually increasing difficulty.

I'm afraid playing 3rd movement now will be a complete waste of time for you. In order to understand how the right hand must move when playing 3rd movement, you firstly need to learn to play many much simpler patterns. You can't learn complex motions before you master simple ones. I'd recommend to focus on exercises of appropriate difficulty for now.

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Always best to learn to play music by playing music. So you have section of something you having difficulty with then isolate it and turn it into a exercise. Have a technique issue you want to work on find some music that requires that technique and work on it. Learn music by playing music.

Over on Facebook and some YouTube Chick Corea for a year or so was posting videos of his practice sessions. Chick has been doing some classical concerts along with his legendary Jazz shows. You can see even with classical pieces he has an issue, stops, tried again, still not right then isolate that section and working in then start trying to fit it back into the whole piece. Let music teach you music.

From playing other instruments I discovered that how I position and use my hands differs when playing exercises, than when doing similar actions playing a song. Also on something tough problem I will make a video of my hands playing it so I can study what I'm doing and make changes. Videoing ourselves is a great teacher. As the old wise ones say.... nobody can teach you anything they can only point you in the right direction, you have to seek out the knowledge teach yourself. Video yourself to point you in the right direction to look for the answer.

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Originally Posted by MrShed
As the old wise ones say.... nobody can teach you anything they can only point you in the right direction, you have to seek out the knowledge teach yourself. Video yourself to point you in the right direction to look for the answer.
Not very wise IMO. What does "point you in the right direction" mean? I've learned tons of very specific things from my teachers, live master classes, online videos, etc. I just posted an instructional video by Denis Zhdanov that I think all but the most advanced PW members will find incredibly instructive and valuable. And that's just one 20 minute video.

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A great question. I would discuss with your teacher if you wish to do this to ensure to practice something useful. Unless this skill is only from an advanced piece I would think it is better to do this from pieces within your ability as you can also get the benefit of learning a piece. My teacher recommended Bach invention 12 to get agility in the fingers. If you want to skip the piece at 1:50 I show you what I was taught to do. The idea is to play the 3-4 notes at speed and he highlighted parts to practice and why they were useful (rapid changes in fingers , awkward hand positions). Now I got that try and do larger groups 4-5 notes etc. I am still working on this but only a small amount of time, was told 5 mins max, is proving helpful.


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This one is my favourite one. I only play the first two pages very slowly as it is very difficult and not a piece I would ever learn in lessons.



I dont think I ever intentionally picked a section from an advance piece to be learnt in lessons. I am sure it is possible. I frequently have piece sections to try, its is not a bad thing and can be fun. I think I was told the trick for the first few bars of the moonlight 3 is to collect the thumb whilst going up. I think you really can take any part play it in rhythms, chords and in various ways if you really seriously want to get it secure and this to me is standard practice techniques.

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Originally Posted by MrShed
Learn music by playing music.
This something only the most talented people can do. And all the rest of us require exercises.

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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by MrShed
Learn music by playing music.
This something only the most talented people can do. And all the rest of us require exercises.

Yes, we need exercises but the exercises can be developed from the music you are learning.


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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by MrShed
Learn music by playing music.
This something only the most talented people can do. And all the rest of us require exercises.

This is not a well thought out statement.

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Originally Posted by Keybender
If so which are memorable sections of other famous pieces you would try?
Personally, I play some famous scales and according arpeggios to warm up laugh


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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I vote for a set of exercises with slow, gradually increasing difficulty.

I'm afraid playing 3rd movement now will be a complete waste of time for you. In order to understand how the right hand must move when playing 3rd movement, you firstly need to learn to play many much simpler patterns. You can't learn complex motions before you master simple ones. I'd recommend to focus on exercises of appropriate difficulty for now.


I am not trying to. The first couple of bars aren't actually that hard. I also honestly fail to see how they are even a complex motion. Probably easier than bachs invention 13. For it to be a good exercise, it does not have to be at full speed either.

I sometimes forget that the standard answer around here is "ask your teacher otherwise its worthless" - I find that to be a rather sad attitude to be frank and also not really related to the question and I have not yet learned to just ignore that. When I was at university, studying, we had exercises which were incredibly important but some of the most valuable insight was gained from coming up with hard problems ourselves and bashing our heads against them unsuccessfully.

Anyway, developing exercises from sections is a good thought, I am somewhat afraid of being creative with music myself.

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I reckon simple pieces can also make for good exercises . . .but yeah; it'd be darned good to play some o' those crescendos one hears, and even the little runs casual pianists do so cheesily.
A negleted part o' my musical training . . .


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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by MrShed
Learn music by playing music.
This something only the most talented people can do. And all the rest of us require exercises.

Yes, we need exercises but the exercises can be developed from the music you are learning.
Right, I guess most exercises were really developed from music. I'd just like to stress the word "developed" here. It's important. So an exercise is not just a difficult subsection of a piece, but a meaningfully isolated and simplified short fragment, that in most cases focuses on just one skill at a time. That's what exercises are all about. Unless a student is so talented that he or she can effectively learn many skills simultaneously, an exercise is what helps us to learn one small skill by another small skill, which must only then be combined in playing music.


Certainly I don't mean "exercises" like those of Brahms, so extremely popular in Russia, those exercises are actually etudes and they are called exercises inappropriately.

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Originally Posted by Keybender
Anyway, developing exercises from sections is a good thought, I am somewhat afraid of being creative with music myself.

Nahre Sol is one of my favorite "YouTubers" and she does this often. I can't remember a specific video to point to right now. She even developed an entire technique 'course' with exercises based on some Chopin etudes. She'll choose a particular challenging pattern, then mimic that in an exercise that gets transposed multiple times. Of course everything she does sounds beautiful and much more creative that I could ever come up with. But personally I think this idea can be very useful.


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Originally Posted by Keybender
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I vote for a set of exercises with slow, gradually increasing difficulty.

I'm afraid playing 3rd movement now will be a complete waste of time for you. In order to understand how the right hand must move when playing 3rd movement, you firstly need to learn to play many much simpler patterns. You can't learn complex motions before you master simple ones. I'd recommend to focus on exercises of appropriate difficulty for now.


I am not trying to. The first couple of bars aren't actually that hard. I also honestly fail to see how they are even a complex motion. Probably easier than bachs invention 13. For it to be a good exercise, it does not have to be at full speed either.

I sometimes forget that the standard answer around here is "ask your teacher otherwise its worthless" - I find that to be a rather sad attitude to be frank and also not really related to the question and I have not yet learned to just ignore that. When I was at university, studying, we had exercises which were incredibly important but some of the most valuable insight was gained from coming up with hard problems ourselves and bashing our heads against them unsuccessfully.

Anyway, developing exercises from sections is a good thought, I am somewhat afraid of being creative with music myself.
I think it is a very good way for many people to learn in particular adults who need positive reinforcement that they are making progress. I've learned simply by learning progressively more difficult pieces and rarely if ever did exercises unless they were exercises that were relevant to the piece that I was playing at the time. Not that exercises are a bad thing (in fact they are often a vital part including scales, arpeggios amongst other things for children), but the motions adult players will need to learn are already IN the music. You just have to be wise on how to choose pieces that will make you a better player. For example, pieces that have scale passages, arpeggios, counterpoint etc... for exposure to these elements. I've always believed that pushing one level above where you actually are is a good way to advance but it's not for everyone. If you are impatient or easily frustrated this might not be a good way for you to learn.

I do believe however whether you learn with or without exercises or just with the music a qualified talented teacher is a critical component to making real progress. You can learn bad habits and technique learning with a lot exercises as you would from playing pieces incorrectly. Teachers are there primarily to teach you how to do things correctly. Just make sure you are both on the same page on your learning style.

Last edited by Jethro; 01/25/21 10:26 AM.

Working on:

Bach/Busoni Chaconne in D minor BWV 1004
Preludio: Bach/Rachmaninoff E Major Sonata for Violin
Chopin: G Minor Ballade


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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by MrShed
Learn music by playing music.
This something only the most talented people can do. And all the rest of us require exercises.

Yes, we need exercises but the exercises can be developed from the music you are learning.
Right, I guess most exercises were really developed from music. I'd just like to stress the word "developed" here. It's important. So an exercise is not just a difficult subsection of a piece, but a meaningfully isolated and simplified short fragment, that in most cases focuses on just one skill at a time. That's what exercises are all about. Unless a student is so talented that he or she can effectively learn many skills simultaneously, an exercise is what helps us to learn one small skill by another small skill, which must only then be combined in playing music.


Certainly I don't mean "exercises" like those of Brahms, so extremely popular in Russia, those exercises are actually etudes and they are called exercises inappropriately.
Yes I agree that exercises were developed from the music not the other way around. Music was not generated by stringing together a bunch of exercises. Exercises, as Vasiliev says were designed to isolate difficult sections in the music more accessible and for some can be a good teaching tool to simplify the learning process, but it might not be necessary for everyone.


Working on:

Bach/Busoni Chaconne in D minor BWV 1004
Preludio: Bach/Rachmaninoff E Major Sonata for Violin
Chopin: G Minor Ballade


Shigeru Kawai SK2
Kawai VPC-1
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