About practice hours and stuffs

Posted by: Basil Joseph

About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 08:39 AM

Hai to all smile

I am new here and this is my first post. Now i am here for a help.I dedicated all my ambitions to learn piano seriously.I am a beginner aged 22.Playing my second grade lessons.i decided to devote this year -from this november to next november- ENTIRELY to learn piano and take 5th grade.

I can practice 12 hours everyday and i have the mind too.But here comes the actual question for me."What to practice?"
In my piano class i am learning two little pieces per week. It is really nice. But to gain full advantage of my practice hours i think experinced people can suggest a TIME TABLE.really i mean a TIME TABLE.

Wat stuffs to practice to gain the maximum benefit? Regarding fingering excercises, Scale and chord excercises, how to start the day, wat for improving various skills etc etc.I am really confused and really wish somebody help me.

I want to know if you have 12 hours a day to practice piano how u are going to use it?

i hope u understood and having a mind to help me.As teachers i am sure your suggestions are highly valuable.please help me.

Much much thanks in advance heart
Posted by: rada

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 09:05 AM

I have never heard of a person spending 12 hours a day to learn something. Horowitz said he practiced 4 hours a day so maybe it depends on your concentration and your ability to apply yourself. I read that is takes 10,000 hours to become a master.
Good luck!
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 09:19 AM

While I admire your ambition, I do not think it will go anywhere. The reason being is that sleep is a very important part of the learning process. Once you learn something, you must sleep on it to solidify it, then repeat the next day, then sleep, etc.

Practicing 12 hours a day can also be damaging. There really are not short-cuts to piano. As rada says, it takes 10,000 hours to master something, but even if you did 10 hours a day for 1,000 days, that's still 2.74 years - much longer than your self-imposed time table.

That is not to say you cannot improve quite a bit from this November to the next, but 12 hours a day won't do it. As a beginner I would not spend more than 1-2 hours per day at the piano, with only doing one hour at a time then take a break. You can certainly work on more than 2 songs, however. There are scales, chords and arpeggios, technical exercises such as Hanon (if you like that sort of thing), and you could ask your teacher to give you more of this kind of material so that you can fill up that hour. Improvising and ear training are great skills to develop as well.

Now you can certainly spend time off the piano bench doing other things that are music related that will help you to progress such as theory and history.
Posted by: keystring

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 09:22 AM

I am wondering whether it would be good to share this ambition with the private teacher. I'm guessing that teacher might guide practicing and would a teacher tend to gear lessons toward such goals if they're known? (question to teachers)
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 09:23 AM

There's no formula, and a big part of playing the piano is coming up with your own time table. You need to figure out what works for you, and it will probably take some time and experimentation to figure it out.

The Grades are meant to take about a year of study, and while accelerating the process is certainly possible, there's no prescribed way of going about it.
Posted by: Basil Joseph

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 10:04 AM

I am really really thankful to all the replys smile

I hope u understood that i want to use the hours effectively which now i am using less effective.Today i spend 10 hours infront of my keyboard. But effective hours, i am afraid its less than 5!!.studied two pieces. But when it comes to execrcises i am struggling.what excercises to do? Thats the thing i want to know. I heard about arppegios, fingering excercises, hearing excercises..downloaded a lot..but cant select one.

In these days only i found a piano teacher.Till this self teaching only.Saturday is my class.Sure i will ask him.

12 hours, i know it looks like an exaggeration.But certainly not.I quit my job and staying away from my home to learn the instrument.I am aged 22 also.So i think i ve to spend a lot of time.(i dont know if there is any accomplished pianists who started the studies at the age of 22)

I am not thinking that i can master the instrument by one year.My goals are to get 5th grade and learn piano so that i can start earning and living through it.

i believe there are good exercies and a good syllabus for a music student which can fill atleast 10 hours of his practice.infact there are lot of my friends who practices for such a long hours.But all are studying indian music.And about hours 10000 is enough for a person who used all the hours effectively smile

really hope something these discussions can add to my pursuit.:)
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 01:26 PM

Originally Posted By: rada
I have never heard of a person spending 12 hours a day to learn something. Horowitz said he practiced 4 hours a day so maybe it depends on your concentration and your ability to apply yourself. I read that is takes 10,000 hours to become a master.
Good luck!

Practicing 4 - 5 hrs a day, maximum, if you know what you're doing. You don't, and this could be more destructive than helpful.

Research indicates that it takes 1,500 to 1,800 hrs to get to grade 5, but that's not "self taught" but with lessons every 4 - 5 hours of practice. Can you get this?
Posted by: keystring

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 01:35 PM

... if you know what you're doing. You don't, and this could be more destructive than helpful.

I asked about informing the teacher of the goals and ambitions, for that reason, because I imagine guidance will be needed. We can injure ourselves as well as entrench unwanted things quite firmly. I understand that having the right studies and exercises are only good if we know how to do them. Should the teacher be told of the goals? Can it make a difference?
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 01:38 PM

Simply because you *can* and *want* to do something doesn't mean it is *beneficial* to do so. 12 hours of practice a day is not beneficial, so to do it would not be wise to insist on doing so. I am talking about classical piano training, and not indian music (of which I admittedly know nothing. Perhaps 10 hours a day is great for that).
Posted by: keystring

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 02:10 PM

Misunderstanding, Morodiene. "Goal and ambition" to me means "I would like to learn to play piano very well, possibly to a professional level." For me, practising x hours a day and certain studies are a means to a goal, and not a goal. But those means are chosen by a teacher. So my thoughts were that the teacher should be informed of the goal as I defined it. Otherwise there might be a more casual path geared toward hobby-playing. From there the teacher would devise a program and also guide the student's practicing. The questions asked here would be answered.

That was my thinking.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 03:36 PM

Of course, the teacher should be aware of the goals, but the student should also understand what is realistic and beneficial. I have had many highly motivated adult students come to me without really understanding the kind of work involved. No one does, really, until they get knee-deep in it, but sometimes adults are so frustrated or disappointed when they find this out because their expectations of themselves were unreasonable to begin with.
Posted by: saerra

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 05:34 PM

Basil Joseph,

I'm not a teacher... but I wanted to throw my 2 cents in. One of the things that you should be aware of, and concerned with, is that trying to practice for that many hours - especially as a beginner - can increase your chance of an injury (for example: repetitive stress, tendonitis, etc.)

If you get injured, you may have to take months off - with no practice at all.

(I went through something like that when I first started, and I was not doing anything near 12 hours a day on the piano. I was forced to take a month break, unpaid from work, and was told by my doctor to not even think about touching the computer or piano at all during that month. After that, it was several more months before I could start playing - a little at a time, very carefully - at all. Even a year after that my teacher was very nervous about me doing anything repetitive, such as scales, or with my force, such as staccatos or forte. So it is not a small set back in learning!)

I think your drive and enthusiasm is great, but as others have mentioned, chaining yourself to the piano for 12 hours at a time is not an effective way to meet your goals.

The best thing to do is talk to your teacher, explain to him/her how serious you are, and that you would like to put in as much time as you can - ask him/her the best way for you to learn.

Also, ask for advice on practicing. If you can learn something in 1 hour, why spend 3 doing it less efficiently? Let your teacher guide you, then you save those 2 extra hours to get even further with your studies!

And finally - my understanding is that piano just plain takes time, even when you do everything right and study hard and practice for hours every day. There's a physical process involved and I think someone wrote previously, you're actually "rewiring" your brain to do something new. It takes *time* to make these connections, not just "hours of practice" - but time for it all to sink in and work.

Good luck with your studies!
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 05:55 PM

Just as an factoid on the subject of practice, a study was done at the Berlinerhochschule fuer Musik on their violin students.

They broke matriculating students into 3 groups, potential artists; potential top orchestral players; potential teachers (classroom).

This is what they discovered about each group: At age 18, they had cumulative practice average of 7,410 hrs; 5,301 hrs; and 3,420 hrs.

You can draw from this data what you want!
Posted by: keystring

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 06:32 PM

John, I know you're stressing the fact of practising, but I'd like to go off on a tangent. Being a soloist ("artist"), orchestral player, and teacher are three different activities and lifestyles as well as choices. I can imagine someone with the potential for being a soloist nonetheless choosing to be in an ensemble or teaching. The "potential" throws me a bit, because it seems to assume a hierarchy of ability rather than different tasks and choices. Surely ensemble vs. solo vs. teaching is also a matter of character, lifestyle, and other abilities.

Also, could the requirements of the task determine the amount of practising? You may not need to practice for as long if you are preparing for orchestra work than for solo work. If focusing on teaching part of your efforts will go toward other skills. So do those hours determine what the people have achieved or are the hours determined by what they are aiming for?

Just to throw in a bit of mischief.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 07:09 PM

We're talking about the ability to play an instrument and how well you can play it. Mechanically and artistically. Not what you intend to do with your skills.

These were entering students, and the faculty selected students who played at various levels and projected where they would probably end up. That's subjective. However, when the researchers started in on detailed analysis of the students developmental history, they were stunned at the difference in basic preparation.

The students when they entered the academy probably all had ideas of being soloists, playing with quartets, sitting first chair in an orchestra, etc.. Over the next five years, reality set in.

This should not be interpreted to suggest that the students at the top were twice as good; just better. Think pianos. You can purchase a 6 ft Essex for $20k, a 6 ft Boston for $35k and a 6 ft Steinway for $50k. They each are wonderful, but you wouldn't concertize with an Essex would you? And a Steinway isn't 2 1/2 times better than an Essex. Just noticeably better.

In other words, you get incremental improvements, but it takes inordinate amounts of additional practice to get it.

BTW, Colvin argues, rather convincingly, that with "potential" and $2, you can get a cup of Starbucks. He contends that anyone growing up in the Woods household would have been a major talent; anyone growing up in the Mozart household would have been a signicant musical force. Why? Because the parents were teaching the kids for hours a day, from the time they could waddle. By the time Mozart was 5, he probably had 5,000+ hours of keyboard study under his belt.

I'm not saying Colvin is right or wrong, just that he makes a strong case for his position.
Posted by: keystring

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 07:37 PM

Sorry, John, I deliberately went off on a tangent. However obviously they were talking about a hierarchy of abilities rather than personality-based career assessments. And that's what you were stressing in terms of those practice statistics.

Originally, in view of this newcomer to piano wanting to do 12 hours, you warned that quality or nature of practice is important. Father Mozart was a professional musician so the children received proper guidance and probably also had decent instruments. That talent was also directed, and the hours spent put to good use. I think that getting a list of things to practice isn't sufficient - the private teacher's guidance is needed in terms of the OP here.

In regards to your statistics, from the information that was brought home a few years ago, 3 hours of practice would not have been regarded sufficient at the university level for that instrument and 5 hours, barely. Is it also an indication of seriousness? I imagine that at that school all the students would have had proper instruction so there is no question of not knowing how to practise effectively.
Posted by: Betty Patnude

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/05/09 10:48 PM

I think the best people for Basil to speak with about his plans are the piano teachers in his country.

Egypt has many, many choices of native instruments and I wonder if he has explored any other instruments or or voice study before.

Basil makes me wonder what has inspired him to become a student of piano? What has made him give up his job to want to spend 12 hours a day learning beginner music. First of all, I think he is unrealistic in his decision making. I don't know his exposure to music or his abilities to learn, play and teach. In the long run musicians work with their natural talents and work to acquire skills needed for proficiency in their instruments.

I would encourage anyone to follow their desires to be music makers, but all the other expectations that Basil has seems to me to be the cart before the horse. His journey will most likely not be as he expects it to be and I would caution anyone to keep an open mind about what they encounter and to be realistic in how the "doors" will open to their intentions.

As in life, first be are new borns, we become toddlers and and develop all during our lives which are all ways of becoming - most of our growth has been through the daily process of living, breathing, physically and mentally and educationally developing, and discovery of the self is taking place during all of that time. We must be patient with ourselves as our lives unfold. Opportunities present themselves in due time and with proper preparation.

I would always caution any young person to be putting money away for the rainy days of life - it is important to be self supporting and building toward one's future. Our efforts primarily are consumed by earning a living and providing for our immediate needs as well as our future needs. We must be grounded to "terra firma" while doing our dreaming for the future.
Posted by: keystring

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/06/09 08:59 AM

Reference was made to the home culture of Basil, who is from India. A clear explanation as well as comparison was made by an ambassador who tried to bridge the separate heritages, and is interesting reading. R. Shankar on Indian Classical Music It is not light reading, but also not incomprehensible since Shankar also had classical Western training and can write in the language of the Western classical musician.

I understand, however, that the OP is looking to Western musical training with the piano, in his question.

Addendum: Among those who studied with Shankar are Yehudi Menuhin and Philip Glass.
Posted by: Basil Joseph

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/06/09 02:17 PM

I am really thankful to all the persons who found time to write for me. I am understanding well that it is unrealistic and not useful to spend lot of hours ineffectively. To Keystring its true getting things for practice cant be sufficient smile

I am going through a decision making process. Tommorw i can discuss it with my piano teacher. I found my teacher by the way.
Ok, betty, i am new to piano. Know only some basics and covered 75% of "The wright pianoforte tutor". I studied indian classical (carnatic) flute before and by profession i am an audio engineer. But the think is that Piano is fascinating me, infact for all of us it is.

And about injury, if something like that can happen saerra? Yes mentally i agree. but how come physically?. u can think that i dint say to sit 12 hours continuously. Natuarally i wil eat, drink and relax. Ok anyway i left that case. I got some really valuable suggestions about sleep and spacing between my practice time.

You are really helpful and truthful.heart
Posted by: frida11

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/06/09 05:26 PM

Knowing that the poster is from India sheds some light on his attitudes about practice and accomplishment in music. In India, music disciples often dedicate their entire waking hours to the discipline. On some instruments, and with some teachers, the student will be required to work for months or years before even touching the instrument. Indian musicians are physically able to sit playing the sitar (for instance) for 6 or 8 hours at a stretch. This young man may be coming to piano with an attitude that is hard for many of us to grasp.

However, Basil Joseph, if you don't have a personal teacher or tutor who can help you effectively use those hours, you may want to consider a program more along Western lines.

One thing you could add to your studies is some music theory. For this, you wouldn't necessarily be sitting at the piano. You could also add to your studies by listening to various great pianists, or watching them play on youtube. You can make a timetable for yourself that includes 1-2 hours for each discipline, as in music theory, sightreading, listening, practicing scales, arpeggios and exercises, etc.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/06/09 06:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Basil Joseph
And about injury, if something like that can happen saerra? Yes mentally i agree. but how come physically?. u can think that i dint say to sit 12 hours continuously.

Yes, physical damage can occur. Playing the piano is not at all like playing a lap held instrument. Even though your fingers are acting as some support, try holding your arms straight out for a while. You'll begin to get an idea.

More importantly, using your fine motor muscles correctly is necessary to prevent injury, internal nerve and muscle injury.

Secondly, there is the law of diminishing returns. Of course, it is possible to sit at the piano for half a day, but as each hour passes, your learning curve sinks.

Let's say you learn at a rate of 100 units for the first hour. The second hour might be something like 80 units more learning. The third hour, it might drop to 50 units. The fourth hour, it drops again to 30. These are hypothetical to explain the drop off in learning. No one, no matter how disciplined, can learn at 100% efficiency hour after hour.

What you gain in the fifth hour of practice and beyond becomes less and less. Part of this is your brain, and part of this is muscle fatigue. You'd actually learn more working in bursts, say of 90 minutes, with several hours break in between. Then you might get six very good hours of learning in a day.

But, the bottom line is, without a teacher or mentor to guide you, you do not know what to practice. Playing the correct notes at the correct time is just scratching the surface.

Best of luck to you.
Posted by: edt

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/13/09 02:22 PM

basil, I was reading "The Groundwork of the Leschetizky Method" by Malwine Bree and remembered your post here. From the book:

Pratice at the piano should bot be an unreflective rattling-off of exercises by the hour or by the number of repetitions. To bear fruit, it must be the simultaneous training of head and hand. The simplest finger-exercise demands, for untrained fingers, the undivided attention of the student. He must see whether the hand is held right and the fingers move correctly ; he must listen to each tone he strikes, and exercise thought in all. After the fingers have been controlled by thought, rightly applied, for only a few weeks, you will be convinced that they are at last growing independent and trustworthy. Then, for the study of pieces, most attention may be directed to the mental side.

Thinking is rendered easier by practicing at first very slowly, not playing faster until you are sure of your ground. If progress is not rapid at the beginning, do not fancy that you can improve matters by sitting at the piano from morning till evening ; that is harmful to the health, and it is impossible, besides, to pay close and careful attention for so long. Four hours of sensible practice are quite enough.
Posted by: Tim Stinnett

Re: About practice hours and stuffs - 11/16/09 11:13 AM

Practice only as long as you can concentrate 100%. When that flags, stop practicing immediately. Go for a walk. Read. Rest. If I were you, I would use a large chunk of time sight reading. Ask your teacher for music appropriate for your level to sight read... lots of it. Do not practice the same thing over and over again.

Stop practicing at the slightest sign of stress or fatigue in your hands. The risk of physical injury, especially for a beginner without someone monitoring your technique, is very real and very great. Avoid injury by NEVER practicing in discomfort or pain.

Use your time to listen to music. Learning to play the piano is as much about training your ears and learning to listen carefully to yourself. Real listening requires intense concentration. Few students are able to listen to themselves well. Use your time listening to music to learn how to focus your concentration. This will carry over into actual keyboard work, where it is absolutely essential to listen to yourself with 100% concentration. Stop working when your attention flags.

How much can you really expect to achieve in one year? I don't know. I would advise against setting expectations. Go for the journey and learn as much as you can and progress at the pace you find comfortable. But enjoy the journey, and may your musical abilities increase and flourish this year!