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Joined: Apr 2013
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Originally Posted by Sketches
I find I often get stuck on a few measures I can essentially play for ages though. Going through them again and again, trying to perfect them. I might be spending too much time getting small parts of the piece up to a standard I would perform for someone without moving forward. I always do polishing and re-interpretation once I have got to the end of course and I never play at performance speed until a lot of work after I have the piece 90% there.

This is a great way to learn pieces. It's the process I use myself and I work this way with students too. It means you learn pieces slower, but it takes much less time to polish them.
Originally Posted by Sketches
my problem is less with polishing the whole piece and more about progressing through it at a reasonable pace. For example, I have been starting Chopin Op 55 No 1 (my current stretch piece so I fully expect to spent many months overall) and I have basically been repeating the first few bars of LH only for a week as i am still not happy with the dynamics, tone and pacing. The RH is very simple here of course and I could totally play HT but I keep putting it off until I will be 100% happy with the LH. I think perhaps I should really be moving along in tandem to my obsessive practice on the LH.

What I have been doing sounds really stupid now I type it out laugh

To me, the process doesn't sound stupid at all. However, Chopin Op. 55 no. 1 may be so much of a stretch for someone who's only been studying less than a year, that it will take a very VERY long time to work through in a way that sounds good, and you may get bored or frustrated. (Those first 8 measures are the easiest part.)
Maybe try working in the same way with easier material for a while. You will probably find you get through pieces faster, and that your habitual caution helps them to sound good, so that you never have to go through a sloppy mistake-ridden stage with any piece.


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Originally Posted by Greener
Originally Posted by Polyphonist
Be familiar with the whole thing before beginning to work on it.


Agree, but if I do this with anything by Chopin I would not likely start on many of them. He seems to always want to throw in a couple of measures which are a few grade levels beyond the rest of the piece. I bet he had a smirk on his face when he wrote these measures ... lets see how well you deal with this part grin. With Chopin, I figure if I can get the first page or 2 sounding nice I should be able to get the entire thing sounding nice and I'll worry about the extra hurdles later. Of course, they will also take extra time but are not usually insurmountable. If they have the potential to destroy everything else that I worked so hard for, then I guess it is a piece for further down the road.


That's so true, my first Chopin piece was Op 28 No 6 and there is only one measure where the right hand takes over. I mean it is not massively harder than the rest but it threw me a wee bit.

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Originally Posted by Sketches
So what do you guys do? Measure by measure perfecting as you go before moving on?


Never measure by measure. You end up wasting time on the easy stuff.

Fix the hardest measure first, until it's easy. Then the second hardest. You'll find most of a piece is easy after you've learned the hardest parts first.

Caveat: if the whole piece is too hard for you this doesn't work.


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Originally Posted by Sketches


So what do you guys do? Measure by measure perfecting as you go before moving on? Sight read the whole piece first? Roughly learn it all then perfect?

I feel like I am missing a trick here which is hampering my progress.


I just chime in. I'm a beginner, started July 2014, never played the piano before.
You're aware that the mentioned music piece from Chopin is level 5. I wanted to play Pachelbel Canon in D , level three, so I totally understand. You want to love what you hear.

I really think you just have to listen to yourself plus a little disciplin. I practice daily for one hour and on most days I start with scales. To loosen up so to speak. I play C, G, F, D major quite well now and work on B and A. I remember how slow it was at the beginning and how I had to watch the fingering. Not necessary anymore. I also practice chord inversions. If I dont feel like it I only practice music pieces. I mean I do my duty on technical stuff and it does help a lot.
Pachelbel was challenging for me at the beginning although the arrangement is really easy. I started with the most difficult measures. Again and again and again HS of course. This is the phase where you just have to do it and not think, just do it. Then the next one, or two or three. Again and again. Repetition in the correct way. and the memorizing just happens without any extra effort. Sometimes I put a piece aside and forget about it for a while.
This method worked for me very well when my teacher gave me Schubert: Sentimental waltz. When I saw the sheet music, well I thought I will never be able to play this. That was April this year and it's level 6. I can play it now, very slowly, still struggling with some of the chords, but it feels easier than the Pachelbel. Crazy. Sometime I just repeat many times a series of fingering to get it smoother. And it works!
I would really like to hear what you did with all this advice from here and experience exchange. I know it will getter better and better. Good luck for you.

Last edited by Akino; 11/01/15 05:05 PM.
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I guess I'm in the same camp. I've been working on Mozart's Fantasie in D minor since basically June, and still haven't memorized the last page.

I can basically play it fluently until that page though. I think at some point I just get bored working on the same piece, and learning the score is still hard work for me frown Very sad state of affairs I guess. Effectively I have like 3-4 pieces in various state of incompleteness, because I keep switching to trying to learn something new.


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