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Famous pianists' daily practice routine
#504105 07/23/08 11:17 PM
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I wonder what famous pianists practice everyday. One of the pianists said he goes through Carl Tausig's Daily Exercises once everyday. Horowitz said he only practices for two hours a day...I think he's just lying to come off cool. Volodos said also no more than three hours a day. Any ideas on what they practice everyday for technique?

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#504106 07/23/08 11:55 PM
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I know Rubinstein did Hanon. I've been reading his autobiography and it seems he was lazy and avoided practice much of his youth, with sporadic times of intense practice.

But then again, when you can sight read pretty much anything, you only need a few hours a day working out details i suppose.


"I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well."

J.S. Bach
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#504107 07/24/08 12:54 AM
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Archive.org has one or two Harriette Brower books. She went around Europe in the early 1900's interviewing famous pianists about stuff like that.

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#504108 07/24/08 11:08 AM
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Liszt had a huge collection of repetitious exercises he'd made up for himself. He did those a couple of hours every day in addition to learning and perfecting repertoire. He's alleged to have kept a novel or a newspaper on his music desk to relieve the monotony.

Chopin polished his chops with Bach before a performance. He told one of his students how he shut himself up in his room with Bach for two weeks before a concert. "I don't practice my own works."


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#504109 07/24/08 12:49 PM
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There's a funny story about Paderewski - he said: if I don't practice for one day, I know it; if I don't practice for two days, my friends know it. If I don't practice for three days, EVERYBODY knows it...

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#504110 07/24/08 01:09 PM
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You can find the Liszt exercises on Sheetmusicplus.com



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#504111 07/24/08 01:22 PM
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I know many concert pianists albeit none extremely famous to be a household name that practice around 3-4 hours a day. They say it's not the quantity of practice but the quality of it as many of you already know.

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#504112 07/24/08 02:19 PM
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I am currently doing the Liszt exercises, the Kullak Octave Technique book, and Carl Tausig exercises. Hanon and Czerny dont appeal to me because they are too basic.

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#504113 07/24/08 03:58 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Classicalist:
I know many concert pianists albeit none extremely famous to be a household name that practice around 3-4 hours a day.
And I know one moderately famous one who apparently doesn't practice at all. confused


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#504114 07/24/08 04:27 PM
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Sometimes when I miss a day or two, my playing seems better, refreshed, more relaxed. Has anyone else noticed this?


Best regards,

Deborah
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#504115 07/24/08 06:03 PM
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Originally posted by gooddog:
Sometimes when I miss a day or two, my playing seems better, refreshed, more relaxed. Has anyone else noticed this?
I haven't skipped a day in about three years but I do tend to alternate the pieces I practice and yes, I have noticed this effect, that sometimes giving a piece a day's rest allows the gains of the previous day's practice to solidify.


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#504116 07/24/08 10:52 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by gooddog:
Sometimes when I miss a day or two, my playing seems better, refreshed, more relaxed. Has anyone else noticed this?
Absolutely, I have experienced the same thing. I think it`s because I forgot my frustration and shortcomings because after an hour of playing all my problems came back. I want to know how to maintain that ability without missing a day again.


Will
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#504117 07/24/08 11:09 PM
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I've had some teachers that suggested (When I had a significant amount of time before performing said piece) that I let the piece 'rest' for a day or two. Just to take my mind (frustration) out of it. It helps to also listen to some recordings of it so you have a better idea what to work towards when you come back to it.

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#504118 09/12/08 06:08 PM
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I certainly noticed myself too playing easier, after giving it a miss for 1-2 days...
It is unfortunately evidence of poor cooling-down & relaxing rituals (if at all!)
Ideally, we shall mix relaxing exercices inside daily practice, and always repeating relaxing exercices at the end.
I believe further that regular physical exercise to the hands will develop all muscles equally, thus reversing what Cortot was suggesting on his 'Principes de technique pianistique'.

cheers
ak

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#504119 09/13/08 12:32 AM
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Originally posted by Αντώνης Κυριαζής:
I believe further that regular physical exercise to the hands will develop all muscles equally,
That will only create insensitive muscle control which is not of much use. You need to feel the action as your finger sinks into to the key.

and welcome to PW!

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#504120 09/13/08 12:30 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by gooddog:
Sometimes when I miss a day or two, my playing seems better, refreshed, more relaxed. Has anyone else noticed this?
Yes, indeed... quite right! It's my excuse when I miss a practice or two! <g>
Cheers,
Roger


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#504121 09/13/08 12:47 PM
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If you feel more at ease with a piece after leaving it for a day or two, it can also mean that the incorrectly used muscles have had a chance to recoup.

Consider: if you use your body as it was designed to be used, i.e., don't work against yourself, the piece should always feel "in the fingers".

Re: Physical exercise. What a pity so many teachers/students are misled into thinking that pianists need to train the way athletes do, that is, develop physical strength. It actually takes very little strength to play the piano (small children can do it). We train for refined movements, physical coordination. Lifting, pulling, stretching and mindless repetition are a waste of valuable time and are potentially harmful.

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#504122 09/13/08 02:25 PM
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I have a theory that a lot of the pianists who say they only practice 1-4 hours a day had a much different regimen earlier in life.

I think there was a period of time - probably in their teens and early 20's - when they spent more like 7-10 hours a day.

People are always quick to ask what great pianists do now. I find what they did when they were young to be a far more interesting question.

Quote
Originally posted by Classicalist:
I know many concert pianists albeit none extremely famous to be a household name that practice around 3-4 hours a day. They say it's not the quantity of practice but the quality of it as many of you already know.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: Famous pianists' daily practice routine
#504123 09/14/08 03:16 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:
I have a theory that a lot of the pianists who say they only practice 1-4 hours a day had a much different regimen earlier in life.

I think there was a period of time - probably in their teens and early 20's - when they spent more like 7-10 hours a day.

People are always quick to ask what great pianists do now. I find what they did when they were young to be a far more interesting question.

Amen to that. Maintaining a technique is different that developing it. Many years ago, I once knew a pianist with very good technique who, to warm up a bit in the morning before really settling in to practice whatever it was for the next concert, would rattle off a few scales in double sixths. I was simply agog that anyone could rattle off scales in double sixths at all, much less first thing of the day while still cold. But this person's technique was already totally solid and, basically, technical work was not part of the picture any more other than to get the hands moving in the morning. And that lasted for maybe five minutes, max.

Also, I think some famous pianists have, because of their particular image, had a tendency to downplay or deny how hard they worked even after they had a developed technique. It is as if they thought that admitting they actually had to work at anything was some sort of flaw. Although I'm not a big fan of his, I was always sort of charmed by Lipatti going in the opposite direction, and saying it took him a minimum of three years of hard work to learn a new concerto.

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#504124 09/15/08 07:11 AM
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Also, I think some famous pianists have, because of their particular image, had a tendency to downplay or deny how hard they worked even after they had a developed technique. It is as if they thought that admitting they actually had to work at anything was some sort of flaw. Although I'm not a big fan of his, I was always sort of charmed by Lipatti going in the opposite direction, and saying it took him a minimum of three years of hard work to learn a new concerto. [/QB]
I'm not so sure this is true.
I have a friend, a "jobbing pianist" like myself who sight reads fluently (he once stepped in and sight-read Rach.2 when the engaged soloist fell ill on the day of the concert), has an enormous repertoire (all the Beethoven and Mozart Sonatas and concertos for starters) and who rarely sits down to practise...but then, there's not much time left for doing so in between playing flute, oboe, bassoon, viola and cello in various orchestras and groups as well as composing educational music, playing tennis and umpiring at Wimbledon!
Sometimes I play duet recitals with him and feel sure that he would rather watch TV or chat than practise for the event if I, lacking his confidence, didn't insist on it.
I don't know how hard he practised in his youth, but I don't think you develop this sort of facility by sitting down in front of a piano for ten hours a day.
My point is that if someone like my friend, who is hardly a household name even where he lives, has this sort of natural facility then it would come as no surprise to me to learn that many well-known concert artists also possess it.

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