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I don't really believe in practice routines, and I've tried to outline my reasoning over here:

https://blizzardpiano.wordpress.com/2021/05/17/day-17-on-practice-routines/

Let me know what you think! I think that opinions are sort of divided on these things, and I have heard many pianists say that they feel like they could have gotten more accomplished in less time while they were young or doing their degree if they practiced like they do as an adult. I've always wondered if it was possible to start out with very effective practice strategies rather than adopt them down the line.

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Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the post and the video. I like her style as she comes off very humble and genuine. I would have never guessed that a concert pianist practices all over the place like that. I thought it would have been 90 min drilling part A then 40 min on part B, etc.

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I love Tiffany's vlogs. I really enjoy when she comments on her practices. Not sure if it is relevant to her practice style, but she is a Columbia University graduate, majoring in philosophy.

She obviously knows what she needs practice with.

I do have a routine, but I'm not beyond changing it up. I get bored easily with same old. This is especially true when I haven't gotten a piece far enough along but I'm getting tired of it.

Thanks for the post.


SunnyKeys - from Florida but not the Keys. Learning for 2 years.
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Originally Posted by SunnyKeys
I love Tiffany's vlogs. I really enjoy when she comments on her practices. Not sure if it is relevant to her practice style, but she is a Columbia University graduate, majoring in philosophy.
It's been a few years since she graduated. Thanks for reading!

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Originally Posted by Sebs
Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the post and the video. I like her style as she comes off very humble and genuine. I would have never guessed that a concert pianist practices all over the place like that. I thought it would have been 90 min drilling part A then 40 min on part B, etc.
Yes, precisely. That is what society usually expects, but I think that practicing like Tiffany does would be quite common for actual high-level pianists. Her argument that having a strict routine is robotic which then affects the music, makes a lot of sense to me. I would expect that most of their concerns would be directed towards expressive considerations.

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I suggest you read this blog from the Bullet Proof Musician on top practice tips

Practice tips- bullet proof musician


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Originally Posted by Sebs
Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the post and the video. I like her style as she comes off very humble and genuine. I would have never guessed that a concert pianist practices all over the place like that. I thought it would have been 90 min drilling part A then 40 min on part B, etc.
She does have a practice routine but it's not what a less advanced pianist might call a routine. It's not something like 10 minutes on scales, 40 minutes on new pieces, and 10 minutes on sight reading. She needs to prepare pieces for upcoming performances in the near and not so near future and she knows how to practice pieces. I watched her summary of her first day's practice and that was enough for me to see how she practices.

She doesn't practice scales since she has mostly mastered those and has more pressing considerations. She takes short breaks either intentionally or when she gets interrupted. The pieces she practiced in her first day's practice she has already learned the notes for and so she practices the parts she knows she has some difficulty with or she finds out she has difficulty with as she goes through the piece. She know various ways of trying to improve those parts and if those don't help she will try something else. For example. she sometimes plays a passage hands separately or very slowly.

I didn't see anything in her practicing that I would call unusual for a fairly advanced pianist. Much of it can and should be adopted by a less advanced pianist. A less advanced pianist might not be aware of a problem in their playing or might not have as many approaches to improving a passage in their supply of techniques for improvement.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 05/17/21 07:53 PM.
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Originally Posted by Sebs
Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the post and the video. I like her style as she comes off very humble and genuine. I would have never guessed that a concert pianist practices all over the place like that. I thought it would have been 90 min drilling part A then 40 min on part B, etc.
There is no need for anyone at any level to practice a specific or predetermined amount of time on a given section. She practices something either until it improves to her satisfaction or she feels she needs to move on at least for the day because her time is not infinite or it will take several days to improve the passage to her satisfaction.

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Contrary to what one might think, allotting specific amounts of time for specific work does not seem to me to be good time management.

Why should one spend XX minutes (fill in your number) a day on scales or technical exercises when scales and technical exercises are not what is needed most in a given person's upcoming responsibilities? Similarly, why would one spend XX minutes on new repertoire if XX minutes is too much or too little given other demands in the near future. Why would one spend XX minutes on revisiting learned repertoire when only a few minutes may be needed to review a work that is already in ones repertoire?

I think one has to use a little bit of common sense and not be bound to a schedule made of of minutes on A, minutes on B and minutes on C. Work on what is needed to be worked on, spend less time on work that doesn't need extra time, but don't build a time schedule and try to fit your musical requirements into the schedule. The requirements should come first and the time allotted should be the time needed - for that practice session - until the musical problem is solved or until attention and focus start to lag.

On the other hand, if 40 minutes of scales and exercises, 30 minutes on new repertoire, 10 minutes of sight-reading and 30 minutes on refining past repertoire works for you (a generic "you"), go knock yourself out! Such a straight jacket would be very detrimental to my routine and to the inspiration and enjoyment that a practice session provides!

Regards,


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The past few years practice has been consistent 7-8 in the evening, 7 days a week. Some days practice can go until 9. Have lessons the usual time once a week. Saved an hour a week meeting the teacher on Zoom instead of traveling to the conservatory. Staying home during the lockdown the time is split between music practice & screen time. Otherwise not a big increase in practice time.

The Shostakovich study seems to suggest playing hands together from day 1 is the better way. Many beginner & intermediate players prefer to learn new pieces hands separate. Teachers suggest learning 1 hand at a time and over time becomes a habit.

People who are not advanced are more likely to do exercise pieces like Hanson & Czerny Etudes. If we’re working on a piece for an upcoming concert, efficiency is a concern. Learning for a teacher many tend to take a more relax approach we can always finish a piece in another week.

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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
The Shostakovich study seems to suggest playing hands together from day 1 is the better way.

Interesting.


Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. -Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
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I have some doubts that she practices like that all the time. But anyway how an accomplished pianist with the skills already under her belt does practice has little to do with how a student must practice. The thing is that until some movement is hardwired in the brain it must be repeated regularly, preferably daily, otherwise it will deteriorate and you'll need to redo the work to reach a certain level again. It's like pushing a stone onto the hill top, until it is there you'd better not get your hands off it. It concerns most other skills, too.

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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I have some doubts that she practices like that all the time. But anyway how an accomplished pianist with the skills already under her belt does practice has little to do with how a student must practice. The thing is that until some movement is hardwired in the brain it must be repeated regularly, preferably daily, otherwise it will deteriorate and you'll need to redo the work to reach a certain level again. It's like pushing a stone onto the hill top, until it is there you'd better not get your hands off it. It concerns most other skills, too.


Isn’t current practice theory in favor of spaced repetition?

Last edited by dogperson; 05/18/21 05:02 AM. Reason: Typo

"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
The past few years practice has been consistent 7-8 in the evening, 7 days a week. Some days practice can go until 9. Have lessons the usual time once a week. Saved an hour a week meeting the teacher on Zoom instead of traveling to the conservatory. Staying home during the lockdown the time is split between music practice & screen time. Otherwise not a big increase in practice time.

The Shostakovich study seems to suggest playing hands together from day 1 is the better way. Many beginner & intermediate players prefer to learn new pieces hands separate. Teachers suggest learning 1 hand at a time and over time becomes a habit.

People who are not advanced are more likely to do exercise pieces like Hanson & Czerny Etudes. If we’re working on a piece for an upcoming concert, efficiency is a concern. Learning for a teacher many tend to take a more relax approach we can always finish a piece in another week.


Teachers’ practices: I hesitate to generalize about what most teachers teach, but isn’t a better plan to practice hands together when you can? And hands separate when you need it? At every level, there are measures and sections where a student doesn’t need hands separate practice. Break the habit and practice how the music needs it.


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Another practice tip: stop playing from the beginning every time you practice. Yes, it feels good to replay what you can already play well, but it is more efficient to practice what ymyou can’t play well. This also works if you are practicing a section: if you can play the first 10 measures of Section B well, don’t start at the beginning Olof Section B. Work on the problems.

And yes, I am in the group that was never taught HOW to practice when I started. I spent s lot of time as an adult reading everything I could find. I wish I would have had this information as a kid. If you start as an adult, you can start from the beginning with focused practice.


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Originally Posted by dogperson
Isn’t current practice theory in favor of spaced repetition?
SRS is great for memorizing stuff at an intellectual level but motor skills require lots of repetition and sleep to consolidate. Also, visualization seems to work well for motor skills and is used by athletes in various sports.

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Whenever someone mentions "practice routines" I imagine weight lifting at the gym; i.e. doing some repetitive task X times or Y amount of time. I guess a lot of people need to have some structured plan to follow. However, music making is not like that. Yes, you need to practice some movements thousands of times to get them right but you can't repeat them mindlessly. You have to constantly listen, judge, adjust, etc. Both at the micro level with each repetition and at a macro level like adjusting what you prioritize and what you are going to practice in the coming days/weeks/months. It's good to have a plan but that plan needs constant revision. You have to be flexible and adaptable, more like a general on the battlefield than a bureaucrat following procedures.

Instead of looking for practice routines people should be asking for practice techniques - things like chaining, rhythm variations, blocking, etc. That's a whole great topic by itself and I feel it deserves more attention, especially in a forum like this.

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Too many people are over-thinking far too much. (I should/must have a routine/I must learn everything HS first, no matter how easy/I must spend 66.666% of my practice time on scales/Hanon etc, etc).

It is actually very straightforward:

Practice what needs to be practiced. In other words, work on your weaknesses until they are eradicated. That includes specific measures in a piece, or even just one single tricky arpeggio in a ten-minute piece. Or a scale with tricky thumb-under movement that causes 'bumps'. Or a passage where you have trouble with a turn. Or coordination between hands in a syncopated section. Or rhythmic issues in one section (- count aloud!!). Or legato pedalling through a piece (- learn the technique properly with something very simple first - like a repeating three-note chord). Or one big leap, or three. ('One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind' etc.)

All eminent pianists practice what needs to be practiced, not what they can throw off with no effort. In fact, they even do that backstage, just before their concerts - they run through a few difficult passages to make sure they're up to scratch just before they step onto the platform.

If you just keep playing the same piece from beginning to end each time, you're not practicing: you're just playing. Which is fine & dandy, if you aren't bothered about improving and mastering stuff properly. After all, many people just want to play, not practice......

If you are serious about practising, it's simple. Get yourself a notebook (use real paper, not the "Notebook" in your Mac) and write down in it what your problem bits/areas are in each piece (including the specific measures, which of course you've circled in red pencil in your score) you're working on, and leave that notebook on your music rest. And every time you practice, you look at it and practice what needs practicing.
But if you're just playing for fun, close the notebook and play what you like.


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I would love to be better at practicing. I hope I get better at this this skill in the near future as I still feel like my practice sessions are not efficient. I always have so much on mind, often I'm thinking and hearing note names "Play C then E, ok now 4 finger on G then shift down the A on this bar" then trying to count in my head or out loud or to myself, HS or trying HT then thinking HT is too hard back to HS. Maybe I just need to try and enjoy it more and not overthink it.

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It's not on this video, but sometimes when Tiffany loses focus and isn't playing well she determines she is hungry and goes and eats. The girl LOVES to eat! (Me too!) That is one valuable tip I've picked up from her videos!


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