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How long to practice...

Posted By: Jitin

How long to practice... - 04/22/19 06:27 PM

I am just wondering in your practice routine how long do you keep practicing the same thing before moving to the next , i.e repeating the same hand movements...
I am curious, because I feel like there must be an optimum time, because to little you won't master it quick it enough, but to much of the same thing can hurt the hands
Posted By: cmb13

Re: How long to practice... - 04/22/19 06:30 PM

Good question. I might practice one measure, or phrase, about 5-10 times - which is only a few minutes, before moving to another section or a different piece. Then repeat daily until I’ve got it. Sometimes even a few times per day, I might return to it after a different section, then put them together. I feel like I’m a little of a slow learner, so it can take months before I really get a piece entirely, but it depends on the length and complexity, of course.
Posted By: cmb13

Re: How long to practice... - 04/22/19 06:30 PM

Would like to hear what the teachers say though.
Posted By: Learux

Re: How long to practice... - 04/22/19 06:38 PM

https://www.key-notes.com/blog/efficient-piano-practice
Posted By: cmb13

Re: How long to practice... - 04/22/19 06:57 PM

Great article, Learux
Posted By: Jitin

Re: How long to practice... - 04/22/19 07:26 PM

good article but doesn't really answer my specific question
Posted By: Cheshire Chris

Re: How long to practice... - 04/22/19 07:31 PM

I don't think the optimum time can be expressed as a number. For me it's however long I can maintain my full focus and concentration on that exercise, and that's different in each practice session. There comes a point at which I start making mistakes because I can't maintain my full concentration any longer, and that's when it's time to move on to something else.
Posted By: NobleHouse

Re: How long to practice... - 04/22/19 07:35 PM

Originally Posted by Cheshire Chris
I don't think the optimum time can be expressed as a number. For me it's however long I can maintain my full focus and concentration on that exercise, and that's different in each practice session. There comes a point at which I start making mistakes because I can't maintain my full concentration any longer, and that's when it's time to move on to something else.


Same here. Every day is quite different. Some days I pick up things fast and then there are those OTHER days...
Posted By: BruceD

Re: How long to practice... - 04/22/19 08:19 PM

As others have written: it depends:
- on what you plan to achieve
- on the complexity of the work/passage
- on how good your general attention span is
- on how good your general physical stamina is
- on your physical and emotional feeling on a particular day.

Since these are variables and apply differently to individuals, only you can know how much time, effort and concentration can produce good results. Anyone who prescribes a certain amount of time would not be considered much of an authority in my book.

Read the article linked by Learux; it has factors that are much more pertinent than a simply and arbitrarily determined amount of time to achieve anything at the piano.

Regards,
Posted By: Moo :)

Re: How long to practice... - 04/22/19 09:11 PM

Dont listen to the lies. The optimum time is 1 hour, 32 minutes, 30 seconds, 2 milliseconds and 5 microseconds per day. You dont have to be exact but a millisecond over or under then it is becomes sub-optimal and piano learning regresses.
Posted By: cmb13

Re: How long to practice... - 04/22/19 09:13 PM

@Moo:) rofl!
Posted By: Valencia

Re: How long to practice... - 04/22/19 10:19 PM

I believe that Heather, a piano teacher who posts on this site, once said she repeats something 10-20 times correctly before moving on.
Posted By: thepianoplayer416

Re: How long to practice... - 04/22/19 11:57 PM

A lot depends on the level of difficulty and the piece.

If you're just learning the notes, you may be able to get by with a slow tempo. If a piece is for a performance and the tempo is relatively fast, it would take longer to push your speed faster after learning the right notes.
Posted By: BigIslandGuy

Re: How long to practice... - 04/23/19 05:41 AM

Originally Posted by Cheshire Chris
I don't think the optimum time can be expressed as a number. For me it's however long I can maintain my full focus and concentration on that exercise, and that's different in each practice session. There comes a point at which I start making mistakes because I can't maintain my full concentration any longer, and that's when it's time to move on to something else.

+1. I've come to recognize when I'm in a rut and move on. Often, I'll circle back later and it's like being fresh all over again, but a little better than first time. This cycle may get repeated several times, depending on what I'm working on and where I'm at with a piece (just learning the notes, polishing it, etc).
Posted By: Animisha

Re: How long to practice... - 04/23/19 06:42 AM

Originally Posted by Jitin
I am just wondering in your practice routine how long do you keep practicing the same thing before moving to the next , i.e repeating the same hand movements...

Generally, about three minutes. Then I do something else, and then something else, and then come back and do three more minutes.

Of course, the three minutes only work for relatively short sections.
Posted By: Docbop

Re: How long to practice... - 04/23/19 07:29 AM

Just like a gig 45 minute practice and 15 minute break then repeat and repeat and repeat. Now like a gig sometimes I don't come back from the break and I have to go look for myself.

Now from a Jazz point of view Davie Liebman who played with Miles and everyone else and teaches at Berklee. In his DVD of a clinic he tells student if serious about becoming a Jazz musician the minimum practice is 3 hours. He said all good Jazz musicians at some point in their life they spend six months to a year or more practicing 10 to 12 hours a day. When I'm really in the serious mode I will practice a few hours a day on my instrument, then do mental practice when eating or at the gym doing cardio, constantly thinking and visualize playing. That will go on for months and then I will cut back for awhile.

Great guitarist Pat Metheny when in high school his grades went to crap because he was so focused on playing. His parents took his guitar away and said he couldn't have it back until he grades improved. Pat said he started mentally practicing guitar and that he probably was spent even more time mentally practicing than he did with the guitar. He did get his grades up enough to get his guitar back and the rest is history.
Posted By: zrtf90

Re: How long to practice... - 04/23/19 01:19 PM

Originally Posted by Jitin
I am curious, because I feel like there must be an optimum time...
The optimum time may or may not be the most efficient but should be the most successful for you over a period. Using the most efficient method and not enjoying it makes it too hard to maintain. It's a balance between what you can manage and how far you need to go, if that makes sense.

Originally Posted by Jitin
because to little you won't master it quick it enough...
Mastering the piano takes time. Putting a limit on the time needed to learn something adds stress. If piano is a recreation for you adding stress may be counter-productive. If it's working you don't need much practise of it but if a passage is taking longer than normal without an obvious reason it might be better to rethink how to tackle it than to keep repeating it without progress. So much of learning piano is best done away from the instrument - as the linked article reinforces.

Originally Posted by Jitin
but to much of the same thing can hurt the hands...
Good piano technique doesn't hurt the hands but allows them to be used for hours without damage. Too much of the same thing is more damaging to the learning process - we shouldn't be trying to play music without conscious involvement anymore than we want to recite poetry in a monotone. The intention is to have the body recreate the music as we imagine it in our minds not to reproduce it with muscle memory and without conscious involvement.

We have to slow down the choreography of what we're trying to achieve, either at the keyboard or away from it, and tackle each movement on its own and in combination with what comes before it and after it, find out what's impeding our progress and solve each problem in turn. It may be a mechanical issue, it may be a rhythmic, coordination or timing issue, or it may be not understanding why a particular note is being used - perhaps your expectation is for another note or perhaps your hand 'wants' to play a different sequence or chord shape.

It's about problem solving, finding the problem or restating the problem in such a way that a solution becomes more evident. Banging away at it repeatedly really doesn't help. We play piano more with our heads than with our fingers. Once the solution is found or we understand better what's required then the amount of repetition needed is much less.
Posted By: ghosthand

Re: How long to practice... - 04/23/19 01:57 PM



Good article as a whole, but I object to this:
"Mistakes cost far too much time to repair and only create uncertainty, whereas your practice ought to build security. Remember, your performance is a direct result of how you practice, and efficient piano practice means playing correctly. If you start making mistakes, it means either that you’re going too fast to learn the music or that your brain is tired. If that’s the case, it’s best to take a break and do something – anything – else."

Well, you HAVE to make mistakes. If you never make them, it basically means you are not making any progress, that you are only maintaining what you already master. Of course this maintenance work is also absolutely necessary, but when you try to develop as a pianist it is necessary to stretch your boundaries - get to the point where you make mistakes, that is, to see where you need to work more. I can assure that every ice skater EVER who can do a perfect triple Lutz has failed, stumbled and fallen a zillion times. They know that falling is a part of the learning process. A pianist also has to "fall" and it is easier for us, thank God, as we don't risk breaking a leg while we do it.

On the other hand, it is also, of course, correct that you should not just make a bunch of mistakes and ignore them, in the vague hope that they will be gone by themselves next time you play this section ... It is also correct that you shouldn't ignore the signals from you brain and body that enough is enough, that you need a break. But I get a bit worried when I read "never make mistakes" because that will lead to a very tense attitude towards mistakes. You WILL make them, and "not allowing yourself" to make them is like giving yourself a mental whiplash whenever it happens - oops, what must not happen just happened! D***! I have been there and I can tell you this road does not lead to happiness. So, let the mistakes happen, be happy for them, work with them until you have thoroughly identified WHY they happened, and then work out a solution.

Repetitions, how many? Depends on the length of the section, I would say. If you cannot nail a certain combination after, let's say, six or seven repetitions, you have too much to handle. Narrow it down.
Posted By: KevinM

Re: How long to practice... - 04/23/19 01:59 PM

Originally Posted by zrtf90
The optimum time may or may not be the most efficient but should be the most successful for you over a period. Using the most efficient method and not enjoying it makes it too hard to maintain. It's a balance between what you can manage and how far you need to go, if that makes sense.

Mastering the piano takes time. Putting a limit on the time needed to learn something adds stress. If piano is a recreation for you adding stress may be counter-productive. If it's working you don't need much practise of it but if a passage is taking longer than normal without an obvious reason it might be better to rethink how to tackle it than to keep repeating it without progress. So much of learning piano is best done away from the instrument - as the linked article reinforces.



So much good advice here relevant to me, and perhaps that is the thing, our motivations for learning to play vary widely so our approaches will vary depending on what we want from the experience.

Part of my reason for learning to play is to de-stress and to enjoy the experience of learning, practising and playing. As long as I continue to improve I'm not going to be too focussed on the most efficient way to improve. Keeping the experience of learning low stress and enjoyable is important to me.

This doesn't mean my practise sessions are unfocussed but they are certainly less disciplined than the descriptions of some I've seen here. But I'm enjoying them and my teacher is happy with my progress.
Posted By: barbaram

Re: How long to practice... - 04/23/19 03:43 PM

Originally Posted by KevinM
Originally Posted by zrtf90
The optimum time may or may not be the most efficient but should be the most successful for you over a period. Using the most efficient method and not enjoying it makes it too hard to maintain.

Part of my reason for learning to play is to de-stress and to enjoy the experience of learning, practising and playing. As long as I continue to improve I'm not going to be too focussed on the most efficient way to improve. Keeping the experience of learning low stress and enjoyable is important to me.


+1 to the above
I have fallen into the trap more than once of trying to be too "optimal", and I've ended up losing motivation.
My philosophy these days is much like Kevin's. I do work to improve, but enjoying the process is vital..
Posted By: KevinM

Re: How long to practice... - 04/23/19 04:12 PM

Originally Posted by barbaram


+1 to the above
I have fallen into the trap more than once of trying to be too "optimal", and I've ended up losing motivation.
My philosophy these days is much like Kevin's. I do work to improve, but enjoying the process is vital..


My biggest problem is when there has been that step change in improvement. I want to repeat that experience and start focusing on trying harder to improve. I then have to remind myself to step back and reflect. I need to remind myself to be mindful of why I am doing this and what will maintain my desire to practise and play.
Posted By: Stubbie

Re: How long to practice... - 04/23/19 06:27 PM

It never even occurred to me to use a set time period for my piano practice, other than a brief period when I did some practice before leaving for work and thus had a set time at which I had to stop and get myself to work. But that wasn't the question.....

Originally Posted by Jitin
I am just wondering in your practice routine how long do you keep practicing the same thing before moving to the next , i.e repeating the same hand movements...
I am curious, because I feel like there must be an optimum time, because to little you won't master it quick it enough, but to much of the same thing can hurt the hands
The amount of time I spend on a piece or task will vary widely, depending on the stage it's at. If the piece is brand new, I might spend half an hour on slowly reading through the piece and then going through hands separately to establish a starting point for fingering. The next day I might spend just as much time, perhaps picking out "chunks" and getting a start on one or two. Or if a piece is (relatively) mature, I might work on a phrase or on getting rid of a hesitation at some particular spot and that might only take five minutes. In the end, what sets the amount of time is when my attention and focus start to flag, it's time to take a short break and move on to something else.

I don't do endless repetitions of anything to the point of causing harm. Better to err on the side of taking a little longer to master the task than to overdo it and hurt yourself.
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