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Whenever I'm starting to learn a new piece of music my process is like that step by step:

1 - Right Hand Seperate Deciding Fingering ( Usually I use Urtext Edition but even those editions have bad fingering so I have to correct them )
2 - Left Hand Seperate Deciding Fingering
3 - Right Hand Seperate Learn Rhythm
4 - Left Hand Seperate Learn Rhythm
5 - Both Hands Play Together with Rhythm and Fingering Sheet Music in front of me until the end of piece one or two times.
6 - Dividing whole piece to the segments for memorizing
7 - Starting memorizing with both hands play together segment by segment until the end ( This is the hardest step takes so much time to memorize )
8 - Playing memorized piece dozen times until I feel very comfortable
9 - Adding Dynamics, pedalling, articulation and every other details etc.
10 - Polishing and review everything
11 - Ready to perform

This 11 step process is very exhausting sometimes I get bored very much and give up learning. I feel frustrated, angry and anxious. And I'm progressing very slow ( Maybe I'm too perfectionist ) Is there any way that is more practical and faster than this. Or what is your method of learning a new piece what are your steps ? Is learning hands seperate waste of time ? I'm an experienced pianist with 14 years of piano playing but still have problems in that subject and still use hands seperate method. So It's like learning 3 piece HS - HS - HT.

Currently learning those pieces with this process I'm sure my technique and musicality is enough for them but I progress very slow.

chopin ballade no 4
liszt gnomenreigen
beethoven op 2 no 1
beethoven appassionata

Last edited by Batuhan; 03/04/17 02:14 PM.


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I feel your pain! I find that slow learning time so frustrating, especially when I am studying a piece that is well within my skill level and I just have to get the darn thing into my fingers. Seems to take forever.

The best advice I have ever been given is to practice slowly. Really slowly. It seems counter-intuitive but it will significantly speed up your progress. I've heard four stories about professional pianists, (Rachmaninoff, Hess, Brendel and Perahia), who practice(d) extremely slowly! I've finally worked it into my routine and I find myself learning much faster.

I think it is not the best idea to deliberately learn a piece HS-HS-HT. I'd suggest learning the piece mostly HT. Save HS for difficult passages and to examine the melody line. Memorizing the left hand alone is also very helpful.

I wish there was a magic formula for quickly getting the music into my brain and down into my fingers but I haven't heard of one besides slow practice.


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Hi

Your English is very good!

From your post I assume that you are a 'classical' Pianist. Now first off I have to say that I am not primarily a 'classical' Pianist though I passed grade 6 several decades ago.

But I completely understand your frustration and would make the following suggestions:

1. Don't only concentrate on one piece at a time. Have a break from the main piece you are learning and go back to some previous ones, or have a 2nd easier piece on the go at the same time.

2. Try learning both hands together. Although I don't play that much classical (at the moment I'm in a Scott Joplin phase) I only practice sections with separate hands if I find it impossible to get it right with two hands.

3. If you are getting bored with the new piece, do something else. Practice some sight reading (both easy and very hard). Play some scales and arpeggios etc. Or if you're feeling really bold try playing something you wouldn't normally do (Jazz/popular..). Study some theory, learn about chords / harmony / structure.

4. Maybe you are trying to learn pieces that are too difficult? Try learning something a little easier. There is plenty of beautiful Piano music that isn't finger busting!

Sadly for us mere mortals the only way to achieve a very high standard is frequently by mind numbing repetition, which is a shame, but a sad reality.

I can't comment on the technical aspects of learning classical music as I don't really do it at all now!

Cheers

Simon

Last edited by Simon_b; 03/04/17 01:07 PM.

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Woops, double post!

Last edited by pianoloverus; 03/04/17 03:26 PM.
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1. I think you should consider not memorizing pieces. These days even top pros like Yuja Wang sometimes perform with the score. I think, for the overwhelming majority of amateurs, memorization is not a good idea, and your post shows one of the main reasons why. Not only are you getting bored and frustrated, you could be spending all that memorizing time learning other rep.

2. Consider finding editions with good fingering. I definitely think they exist, and by not using them you may be severely limiting the knowledge you need when forced to learn a piece that has no fingered editions. This can save a lot of time.

3. As others have stated, learning pieces hands separately is not necessarily a good idea and clearly more time-consuming. Most everyone learns/practices particularly difficult passages hands separately, but most don't do the entire piece like that except sometimes with Bach.

4. I think most people don't wait to add pedaling, articulation, and dynamics at the end. Those things affect fingering so one would have to use them while deciding on fingering. In addition, by avoiding those things until late in your learning you're not able to enjoy as much of the beautiful music you're learning while in the early stages.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 03/04/17 02:16 PM.
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I agree with just about everything that has so far been written. I would simply emphasize that learning every piece hands separately can be time wasted.

Yes, if there are difficult passages in one hand or the other, work them out separately until the fingering and feeling are both comfortable; otherwise, from the very beginning learn hands together. Practice hands together as slowly as you must without making mistakes. That should be your starting point and don't move ahead until you are comfortable and can play without mistakes at that tempo.

I also think it's a mistake to add dynamics, articulation and pedaling after everything else has been learned as if they were afterthoughts. You should have some sense of the piece from the very beginning and incorporate those technical and interpretive aspects into your practice from the outset. Certainly, as you get to know the piece better, you may very well change some of your approach, but these aspects are not add-ons, they are integral parts of the whole.

We may at times get frustrated with slow progress but boredom is something I never experience, fortunately. Perhaps it is in part because I am in the position of choosing the works that I want to play. I do focus on the journey as much as on the goal, and that journey is what gives me daily pleasure and satisfaction as I continue working towards the goal.

Regards,


BruceD
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Originally Posted by gooddog
I feel your pain! I find that slow learning time so frustrating, especially when I am studying a piece that is well within my skill level and I just have to get the darn thing into my fingers. Seems to take forever.

The best advice I have ever been given is to practice slowly. Really slowly. It seems counter-intuitive but it will significantly speed up your progress. I've heard four stories about professional pianists, (Rachmaninoff, Hess, Brendel and Perahia), who practice(d) extremely slowly! I've finally worked it into my routine and I find myself learning much faster.

I think it is not the best idea to deliberately learn a piece HS-HS-HT. I'd suggest learning the mostly piece HT. Save HS for difficult passages and to examine the melody line. Memorizing the left hand alone is also very helpful.

I wish there was a magic formula for quickly getting the music into my brain and down into my fingers but I haven't heard of one besides slow practice.


That seems to take forever feeling is a nightmare I feel like I will never able to perform the piece in front of the public.

I've heard that Rachmaninoff was practicing chopin op. 25 no. 6 extremely slow. I don't know about other stories.

Yes I will definitely try to learn HT from early on and only learn HS on hard passages. Thank you for your awesome suggestion.

Originally Posted by Simon_b
Hi

Your English is very good!

From your post I assume that you are a 'classical' Pianist. Now first off I have to say that I am not primarily a 'classical' Pianist though I passed grade 6 several decades ago.

But I completely understand your frustration and would make the following suggestions:

1. Don't only concentrate on one piece at a time. Have a break from the main piece you are learning and go back to some previous ones, or have a 2nd easier piece on the go at the same time.

2. Try learning both hands together. Although I don't play that much classical (at the moment I'm in a Scott Joplin phase) I only practice sections with separate hands if I find it impossible to get it right with two hands.

3. If you are getting bored with the new piece, do something else. Practice some sight reading (both easy and very hard). Play some scales and arpeggios etc. Or if you're feeling really bold try playing something you wouldn't normally do (Jazz/popular..). Study some theory, learn about chords / harmony / structure.

4. Maybe you are trying to learn pieces that are too difficult? Try learning something a little easier. There is plenty of beautiful Piano music that isn't finger busting!

Sadly for us mere mortals the only way to achieve a very high standard is frequently by mind numbing repetition, which is a shame, but a sad reality.

I can't comment on the technical aspects of learning classical music as I don't really do it at all now!

Cheers

Simon


I'm a huge fan of Jelly Roll Morton I have complete music of him and when I give a break I enjoy playing the crave, big fat ham etc. It's very relaxing. I don't think pieces are above my level I'm just progressing very slowly. Love theory and harmony aspect of music and learn about them as much as possible.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
1. I think you should consider not memorizing pieces. These days even top pros like Yuja Wang sometimes perform with the score. I think, for the overwhelming majority of amateurs, memorization is not a good idea, and your post shows one of the main reasons why. Not only are you getting bored and frustrated, you could be spending all that memorizing time learning other rep.

2. Consider finding editions with good fingering. I definitely think they exist, and by not using them you may be severely limiting the knowledge you need when forced to learn a piece that has no fingered editions. This can save a lot of time.

3. As others have stated, learning pieces hands separately is not necessarily a good idea and clearly more time-consuming. Most everyone learns/practices particularly difficult passages hands separately, but most don't do the entire piece like that except sometimes with Bach.

4. I think most people don't wait to add pedaling, articulation, and dynamics at the end. Those things affect fingering so one would have to use them while deciding on fingering. In addition, by avoiding those things until late in your learning you're not able to enjoy as much of the beautiful music you're learning while in the early stages.


I hate performing with sheet music in front of me because for me It's impossible to play at the fast tempo when you are looking at sheet music. Also performing with sheet music make me feel embrassed I don't know why.

Originally Posted by BruceD
I agree with just about everything that has so far been written. I would simply emphasize that learning every piece hands separately can be time wasted.

Yes, if there are difficult passages in one hand or the other, work them out separately until the fingering and feeling are both comfortable; otherwise, from the very beginning learn hands together. Practice hands together as slowly as you must without making mistakes. That should be your starting point and don't move ahead until you are comfortable and can play without mistakes at that tempo.

I also think it's a mistake to add dynamics, articulation and pedaling after everything else has been learned as if they were afterthoughts. You should have some sense of the piece from the very beginning and incorporate those technical and interpretive aspects into your practice from the outset. Certainly, as you get to know the piece better, you may very well change some of your approach, but these aspects are not add-ons, they are integral parts of the whole.

We may at times get frustrated with slow progress but boredom is something I never experience, fortunately. Perhaps it is in part because I am in the position of choosing the works that I want to play. I do focus on the journey as much as on the goal, and that journey is what gives me daily pleasure and satisfaction as I continue working towards the goal.

Regards,


From now on I will practice HT with dynamics pedalling and articulation and only practice HS on difficult passages and I think this will reduce my learning time dramatically.

Last edited by Batuhan; 03/04/17 02:47 PM.


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Perfect practice makes perfect. But, what are we pianists perfecting?

I think it helps to "study" a piece first: come to an initial understanding, then put it on the "back burner" for a while. Let it stew while working on other things. You can't really perfect what you don't understand yet, technically and musically--it's a new (to you) piece.

Then, I'll go back and suffer (try to perfect). 😀

This is hard for many people because there is so much emphasis on deadlines, a recital or exam in so many months with a certain program of pieces all begun at the same time. Juggling repertoire in many different states of "completeness" (whatever that is) takes cultivation.

Last edited by WhoDwaldi; 03/04/17 03:26 PM.

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Originally Posted by WhoDwaldi
Perfect practice makes perfect. But, what are we pianists perfecting?

I think it helps to "study" a piece first: come to an initial understanding, then put it on the "back burner" for a while. You can't really perfect what you don't understand yet, technically and musically--it's a new (to you) piece.

Then, I'll go back and suffer (try to perfect). 😀


What you mean by study you mean analyzing ? Understanding mean structure, harmony ?



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Originally Posted by Batuhan
Originally Posted by WhoDwaldi
Perfect practice makes perfect. But, what are we pianists perfecting?

I think it helps to "study" a piece first: come to an initial understanding, then put it on the "back burner" for a while. You can't really perfect what you don't understand yet, technically and musically--it's a new (to you) piece.

Then, I'll go back and suffer (try to perfect). 😀


What you mean by study you mean analyzing ? Understanding mean structure, harmony ?


Yes. Structure, harmony, interpretation, the mundane things of fingering, hand position. It's getting the piece to the point of what to "perfect" with repetition, speeding up.


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Originally Posted by WhoDwaldi
Originally Posted by Batuhan
Originally Posted by WhoDwaldi
Perfect practice makes perfect. But, what are we pianists perfecting?

I think it helps to "study" a piece first: come to an initial understanding, then put it on the "back burner" for a while. You can't really perfect what you don't understand yet, technically and musically--it's a new (to you) piece.

Then, I'll go back and suffer (try to perfect). 😀


What you mean by study you mean analyzing ? Understanding mean structure, harmony ?


Yes. Structure, harmony, interpretation, the mundane things of fingering, hand position. It's getting the piece to the point of what to "perfect" with repetition, speeding up.


So you make the process longer ? If I add harmony structure and other things too it would be impossible to learn the piece to a level of performing tired



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Originally Posted by Batuhan
Originally Posted by WhoDwaldi
Originally Posted by Batuhan
Originally Posted by WhoDwaldi
Perfect practice makes perfect. But, what are we pianists perfecting?

I think it helps to "study" a piece first: come to an initial understanding, then put it on the "back burner" for a while. You can't really perfect what you don't understand yet, technically and musically--it's a new (to you) piece.

Then, I'll go back and suffer (try to perfect). 😀


What you mean by study you mean analyzing ? Understanding mean structure, harmony ?


Yes. Structure, harmony, interpretation, the mundane things of fingering, hand position. It's getting the piece to the point of what to "perfect" with repetition, speeding up.


So you make the process longer ? If I add harmony structure and other things too it would be impossible to learn the piece to a level of performing tired


It doesn't have to be theory-class detailed, just whatever is helpful. 😀 (Although that statement would get me in trouble with some people. )


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I try to avoid hands separate practice, I only do it if a passage takes too much concentration to learn just one hand at a time, or to figure out fingering/hand position/distributing a line between 2 hands. Slowing down a lot but still playing with both hands is IMO more effective than practicing hands separate, because hands separate takes less focus and feels very different.

When I started learning piano my strategy would be to "automate" my left hand through practicing with that alone, then "adding" the right hand. This still bugs me to this day because I often still unconsciously treat the left hand as an automated sequence that plays itself while the right hand takes more of my mental focus no matter how simple. I have slightly more trouble playing melodic lines and things with rhythmic patterns in the left hand and slightly more difficulty playing "boring" things like arpeggios and scales in the right hand as a result (because it takes more mental attention). Practicing Chopin-Godowsky etudes is part of what I try to do to correct that subtle bias.

I have also had trouble with security of memory in the past, and I think the solution is to spend some time making a conscious effort to pay attention to some passages and try to think of the notes and chords in sequences and harmonic progressions. I used to do only "muscle memory" memorization which would cause problems if I had a slip, because my hand would know to move a relative distance on the keyboard, which would be wrong if I got the last note wrong.

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For someone learning such advanced pieces I do find your list a bit unusual. Seems like you would not need that many steps for every piece, even if there may be the occasional tricky spots. You seem to learn the "mechanics" of playing the notes first and then add "musicality". It's not how I was taught. I also don't "learn rhythm" separately, it's done while I do the slow reading of the piece and fingering. Or are you talking about getting the tempo up?

Besides feeling slow, is this actually working for you, are you satisfied with the results when you learn your pieces this way?
You also do not specify how long the process actually takes? Are you studying music and need to do it faster? Do you have a teacher and have you discussed your learning process with him?

Anyway most if the work I do is done hands together. For me it is easier and goes much faster. Hands separate is mostly needed later for improving the security of the left hand in pieces where it is used scarcely.

One thing I find time consuming as well is the memorization part, it can take ages. But it is not so much the initial memorization, I just need to practice the recall process a lot, especially with repetitive pieces. My brain goes off track very easily. But after that is done the piece is "finished". Except for me nothing ever is, there's always something that could be changed but that's another story...

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Originally Posted by Batuhan
Whenever I'm starting to learn a new piece of music my process is like that step by step:

1 - Right Hand Seperate Deciding Fingering ( Usually I use Urtext Edition but even those editions have bad fingering so I have to correct them )
2 - Left Hand Seperate Deciding Fingering
3 - Right Hand Seperate Learn Rhythm
4 - Left Hand Seperate Learn Rhythm
5 - Both Hands Play Together with Rhythm and Fingering Sheet Music in front of me until the end of piece one or two times.
6 - Dividing whole piece to the segments for memorizing
7 - Starting memorizing with both hands play together segment by segment until the end ( This is the hardest step takes so much time to memorize )
8 - Playing memorized piece dozen times until I feel very comfortable
9 - Adding Dynamics, pedalling, articulation and every other details etc.
10 - Polishing and review everything
11 - Ready to perform

This 11 step process is very exhausting sometimes I get bored very much and give up learning. I feel frustrated, angry and anxious. And I'm progressing very slow ( Maybe I'm too perfectionist ) Is there any way that is more practical and faster than this. Or what is your method of learning a new piece what are your steps ? Is learning hands seperate waste of time ? I'm an experienced pianist with 14 years of piano playing but still have problems in that subject and still use hands seperate method. So It's like learning 3 piece HS - HS - HT.

Currently learning those pieces with this process I'm sure my technique and musicality is enough for them but I progress very slow.

chopin ballade no 4
liszt gnomenreigen
beethoven op 2 no 1
beethoven appassionata

Hi Batuhan, The process is one thing and the sheer workload is another. Those are four big pieces, some multi-movement. Do you have at least half an hour of practice time per day per movement? Also, how well does this process work on easier pieces?


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Originally Posted by hreichgott
Originally Posted by Batuhan
Whenever I'm starting to learn a new piece of music my process is like that step by step:

1 - Right Hand Seperate Deciding Fingering ( Usually I use Urtext Edition but even those editions have bad fingering so I have to correct them )
2 - Left Hand Seperate Deciding Fingering
3 - Right Hand Seperate Learn Rhythm
4 - Left Hand Seperate Learn Rhythm
5 - Both Hands Play Together with Rhythm and Fingering Sheet Music in front of me until the end of piece one or two times.
6 - Dividing whole piece to the segments for memorizing
7 - Starting memorizing with both hands play together segment by segment until the end ( This is the hardest step takes so much time to memorize )
8 - Playing memorized piece dozen times until I feel very comfortable
9 - Adding Dynamics, pedalling, articulation and every other details etc.
10 - Polishing and review everything
11 - Ready to perform

This 11 step process is very exhausting sometimes I get bored very much and give up learning. I feel frustrated, angry and anxious. And I'm progressing very slow ( Maybe I'm too perfectionist ) Is there any way that is more practical and faster than this. Or what is your method of learning a new piece what are your steps ? Is learning hands seperate waste of time ? I'm an experienced pianist with 14 years of piano playing but still have problems in that subject and still use hands seperate method. So It's like learning 3 piece HS - HS - HT.

Currently learning those pieces with this process I'm sure my technique and musicality is enough for them but I progress very slow.

chopin ballade no 4
liszt gnomenreigen
beethoven op 2 no 1
beethoven appassionata

Hi Batuhan, The process is one thing and the sheer workload is another. Those are four big pieces, some multi-movement. Do you have at least half an hour of practice time per day per movement? Also, how well does this process work on easier pieces?


I sleep like 8 hours a day and other 16 hours I study piano with breaks among them.

Yeah this process work better on easier pieces because you have fewer pages of music to done also not much trouble.



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Originally Posted by outo
For someone learning such advanced pieces I do find your list a bit unusual. Seems like you would not need that many steps for every piece, even if there may be the occasional tricky spots. You seem to learn the "mechanics" of playing the notes first and then add "musicality". It's not how I was taught. I also don't "learn rhythm" separately, it's done while I do the slow reading of the piece and fingering. Or are you talking about getting the tempo up?

Besides feeling slow, is this actually working for you, are you satisfied with the results when you learn your pieces this way?
You also do not specify how long the process actually takes? Are you studying music and need to do it faster? Do you have a teacher and have you discussed your learning process with him?

Anyway most if the work I do is done hands together. For me it is easier and goes much faster. Hands separate is mostly needed later for improving the security of the left hand in pieces where it is used scarcely.

One thing I find time consuming as well is the memorization part, it can take ages. But it is not so much the initial memorization, I just need to practice the recall process a lot, especially with repetitive pieces. My brain goes off track very easily. But after that is done the piece is "finished". Except for me nothing ever is, there's always something that could be changed but that's another story...


I studied with so many teacher like ten different one each of them was taught me well. But now I don't study with any teacher because I feel like they're wasting my time for getting my money. My last teacher gave me chromatic fantasy and fugue by bach and he wanted me to finish it in 1 week to a performance level after that I decided to not study with teachers any more.

The result is very good when I going through this process but you know Its very overwhelming and impossible to cope with it.

I'm very fast learner if I can trust myself and get rid of my perfectionism. When I was little like 12-13 years old I remember learnt pathetique sonata compeletely in 5-6 days to a performance level. But now It would take months with giving attention to every detail.

Last edited by Batuhan; 03/05/17 11:45 AM.


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It seems almost inconceivable to me that someone learning pieces on the level of Chopin's 4th Ballade and the Beethoven Appassionata would learn every piece hands separately, learn the rhythm of each hand separately from the fingering, and add the dynamics, articulation, etc. only near the end of the learning process. Are you attempting pieces way beyond what you should be studying?

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Originally Posted by Batuhan

I'm very fast learner if I can trust myself and get rid of my perfectionism. When I was little like 12-13 years old I remember learnt pathetique sonata compeletely in 5-6 days to a performance level. But now It would take months with giving attention to every detail.


Are you sure it's not just that your idea of performance level was a bit misguided when you were 12? Because I find this strange...if you really were that good at that age and you have been studying all the time since, where did all that ability go?

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
It seems almost inconceivable to me that someone learning pieces on the level of Chopin's 4th Ballade and the Beethoven Appassionata would learn every piece hands separately, learn the rhythm of each hand separately from the fingering, and add the dynamics, articulation, etc. only near the end of the learning process. Are you attempting pieces way beyond what you should be studying?


I mean tempo when I mention rhythm sorry also my very last teacher shocked and said I'm shocked you're learning everything hand seperately at that level of technique he said you can easily graduate from any piano department of conservatory you have an adequate technique and musicality but having problems with learning also he emphasis that I'm giving too much attention to details thats why I'm struggle I think. Than he forced me to learn bach chromatic fantasy and fugue in 1 week to overcome my fears but I quit from piano lessons because I failed.

Last edited by Batuhan; 03/05/17 02:41 PM.


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Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
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Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
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