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Practice - a word to the wise for beginners

Posted By: MovementCode9

Practice - a word to the wise for beginners - 11/18/09 05:55 AM

Practice is certainly the most important aspect of learning to play the piano. Listening to and watching accomplished or advancing players is also a necessity. However, I don't think this is a good thing to do right before you practice. For example, if you listen to or watch someone like Arthur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz or a contemporary like Valentina Lisitsa, or any of the vastly talented players who upload their accomplishments to this forum and then 5 minutes later go to your practice routine, it could be distastrous to the Psyche. As an adult beginner, I am certainly not an expert, and can be easily overwhelmed by the talent a few steps or miles ahead of me. When you practice, listen to youself only and judge your own progress, period.
Posted By: marimorimo

Re: Practice - a word to the wise for beginners - 11/18/09 09:40 AM

^Personally, as an adult beginner I don't suffer from the "disaster to the Psyche" from listening to accomplished performers right before practicing. If anything, I get inspired by them and they make me raise the bar higher for myself. There is certain pianist on Youtube that I admire. One day...I'm going to be able to play like that! Is what I tell myself.

One thing I do practice, though, is not listening to a recording of a piece I am about to play. It's also encouraged by my teacher. Not listening to recordings helps me rely on my own music reading skills and come up with my own interpretation. I don't want records to be a crutch (i.e. not being able to play a piece without first having heard it) and not relying on them develops my rhythm and reading skills. But I still listen to recordings, but only after I have the piece more or less put together to compare with my own version.
Posted By: Morodiene

Re: Practice - a word to the wise for beginners - 11/18/09 03:43 PM

Something to keep in mind, especially for the adult beginner: at any given point in time, there will always be someone better than you, and always someone worse. Worrying about where you are on that line of "good and bad" is really irrelevant. It is best to compare apples to apples, after all. Where are you in regards to where you were 6 months ago? A year ago? This is what matters most.

If you are not happy with your progress when you compare yourself to yourself 6 months ago, then what must you do? Practice more? Practice smarter? Get guidance form a good teacher? These are the important things an adult beginner should be reflecting on.

Listening to great artists should not make you jealous, it should be inspirational. I'm pretty sure they're not doing what they do to rub it in your face or to show off. They are doing it because they love music and they want to share it with others. When I listen to a great artist perform, especially a piece I'm working on, they give me glimpses of what I'd like to do, and perhaps some things I would not do personally. It helps me define who I am as an artist, and perhaps help me expand my views.
Posted By: Rickster

Re: Practice - a word to the wise for beginners - 11/18/09 05:47 PM

I enjoy getting complements on my playing, especially when I know I have long way to go!

Of course, the listeners who complement me on my playing are much appreciated!! (That’s good for the psyche too!) grin

Posted By: thumper49

Re: Practice - a word to the wise for beginners - 11/18/09 06:10 PM

One of the (in my opinion) delightful changes in the music education scene since I quit lessons back in the 60s is the inclusion in many music collections and method books of a CD with each piece performed by a competent musician. I don't always agree with the interpretations of the pieces, but it gives me something to think about.

I'm working with a Suzuki method teacher (just finishing up book 2), and the recordings are a cornerstone of that program. One of my favourite things, once I think I have the piece learned, is to try to play along with the recording. It really shows me where my own expression and tempo varies from the model. My version is not necessarily "wrong" (well, some of the notes I hit are) but the contrast helps me to focus on how I'm doing it and to be able to explain why I think my way is better. I don't get bummed out if I can't keep up. A few months later, I notice improvements in my own performance compared to the model.

Still and all, different strokes for different folks. What makes me happy won't necessarily work for you.
Posted By: melwig

Re: Practice - a word to the wise for beginners - 11/18/09 08:47 PM

I find listening to other players to be inspiring and motivating. The only down side is my want to learn how to play music list grows way too fast.
Posted By: Little_Blue_Engine

Re: Practice - a word to the wise for beginners - 11/18/09 11:22 PM

I don't do it very often, but once I have the notes memorized I find listening to a song before I play it helps me to kind of internalize the tempo.
Posted By: Devrie

Re: Practice - a word to the wise for beginners - 11/18/12 01:49 AM

I started learning piano in a keyboarding class that my high school offered in the late 90's. As an adult going back to piano, I WISH I had realized the advice you are giving. I always listened to the pieces first, and I never focused on my reading skills.

Had I spent more time practicing reading, I would have had much more interest back then. I've stagnated, and now, all these years later, I'm playing less than a handful of piano pieces at the level I dropped off at in high school. I'm reading music from the library of Easy Classics and The Easiest Book of Classics!

It feels really good to be able to pick up a piece of music and see what it sounds like from just reading it, but I have a very long way to go.

So, great advice!
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