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I spent over six hours today, and tried to document the entire process, including my practice strategies. Do let me know what you think, and if you've had similar experiences!

https://blizzardpiano.wordpress.com/2021/05/18/day-18-a-crazy-day-of-practice/

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Dang! I have an eyestrain headache just reading your post!

I've played a lot since I bought my new piano and the last week or so I sensed a lack of progress. I have had a couple shorter practice sessions of just 30 minutes or so. Last night I watched cat videos and let my brain relax. Today's practice was much better.

I hope the work you put in today won't produce a tired brain when it's lesson time.

Sounds like a lot was accomplished. Why the focus on memorization in such little time? My brain is older and getting filled up. I have a couple of the pieces I'm working on now memorized but they are only one page and not overly difficult.


SunnyKeys - from Florida but not the Keys. Learning for 2 years.
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If it took you 20 minutes and you had only "read"(did you mean memorized) the first few measures that seems to indicate the piece may be too difficult for you. But far more important is that you shouldn't be trying to memorize it so quickly(after reading the first page a few times). There are tons of markings in the score and it's not appropriate to start memorizing a piece until those are thoroughly understood and digested and can be played. Memorizing a piece is more than just memorizing the notes so it's not appropriate or realistic to start memorizing after reading the first page a few times. The same comments apply to the Bach Prelude. You were just starting to learn the notes so it's not appropriate to start memorizing it at that point.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 05/18/21 07:26 PM.
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I'm sure your experiments will lead you to many interesting discoveries. Nothing can substitute for personal experience.

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I would suggest not trying to memorize the music so early in the learning process; if you are doing this to compensate for poor reading skills, start reading some new music every day. Start with music below your current level, that you can read reasonably well, at tempo, with dynamics, and articulation. You want to make reading easy do that memorizing is an option rather than a necessity.

you write that you were finally able to read through the music but with stumbles. Train yourself when you are learning the score to play slowly when you start. If there is a stumble, stop and correct the error. Repeat the correction so that you ingrain the correct notes and rhythm. It is easy to think ‘ oh, I’ll get that right next time’... but you want to teach your brain and hands to play it correctly. Don’t accidentally learn the error.


"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 SunnyKeys
Why the focus on memorization in such little time?
I have always heard about some people who could memorize a vast quantities of music in a short period of time. I always wanted to be able to do that, because I get bored quickly with pieces. So, I try my best to learn them quickly, so that I can then focus on interpretation etc.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
If it took you 20 minutes and you had only "read"(did you mean memorized) the first few measures that seems to indicate the piece may be too difficult for you. But far more important is that you shouldn't be trying to memorize it so quickly(after reading the first page a few times). There are tons of markings in the score and it's not appropriate to start memorizing a piece until those are thoroughly understood and digested and can be played. Memorizing a piece is more than just memorizing the notes so it's not appropriate or realistic to start memorizing after reading the first page a few times. The same comments apply to the Bach Prelude. You were just starting to learn the notes so it's not appropriate to start memorizing it at that point.
Point taken. I was exaggerating slightly in my post -- in the 20 minutes, I had read the notes, understood what the expressive markings were trying to convey, and had it almost memorized. However, I had only gotten through 6 measures or so. I have heard the piece in the past, and that also helped me get through it quicker.

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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I'm sure your experiments will lead you to many interesting discoveries. Nothing can substitute for personal experience.
Thank you for your encouragement! grin

Last edited by BlizzardPiano; 05/19/21 03:20 AM.
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Originally Posted by BlizzardPiano
Originally Posted by SunnyKeys
Why the focus on memorization in such little time?
I have always heard about some people who could memorize a vast quantities of music in a short period of time. I always wanted to be able to do that, because I get bored quickly with pieces. So, I try my best to learn them quickly, so that I can then focus on interpretation etc.
Memorizing quickly is not the same as learning quickly. As long as one can read the music reasonably well, one can start focusing on interpretation(using that word here the way I think you are using it i.e. everything other than the notes and rhythm and not just one's personal ideas about the piece) very early and certainly much earlier than one would if one waited until the piece was memorized.

Most pianists don't try to memorize a piece as the first step and would not consider that a good idea. If you get bored quickly with pieces, I think you should try and choose pieces you like more and are generally considered very great works. I don't see how memorizing quickly would prevent boredom. It sounds to me like your method is a result of not having the reading skills to work from the score for a long time.

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In the beginning of the pandemic my practice time increased by 50%
Now it's around the same as 2 years ago sometimes interrupted by family matters that need more attention.

In my school days when I was playing violin, I memorized my pieces. Gave me more confidence performing in front of the parents in our year-end concert. After starting piano as an adult, I continued to memorize my pieces from beginner to intermediate. I like to walk into a room with a piano and be able to play the pieces I worked on recently without having to carry sheet music around.

Memorizing a difficult piece takes time. First have to learn the notes and then get comfortable with the finger sequences that may be awkward.

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Got it! Good luck! I lose focus quickly but it takes me a while to get bored. Improved sight reading will probably really help you. But I can understand getting bored trying to improve on that.


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Just the title alone was embarrassing for me with my 20 minute practice sessions. I practiced hard for 3 hours yesterday. Thank you.


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Originally Posted by Jethro
Just the title alone was embarrassing for me with my 20 minute practice sessions. I practiced hard for 3 hours yesterday. Thank you.

The title disturbed, not embarrassed, me. I can't believe that six hours of practice in one day is really productive, nor does it seem to me to be a good strategy for learning efficiently and well. The blog, with its references to becoming tired, would certainly underscore that.

Regards,


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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by Jethro
Just the title alone was embarrassing for me with my 20 minute practice sessions. I practiced hard for 3 hours yesterday. Thank you.

The title disturbed, not embarrassed, me. I can't believe that six hours of practice in one day is really productive, nor does it seem to me to be a good strategy for learning efficiently and well. The blog, with its references to becoming tired, would certainly underscore that.

Regards,
4-6 hours is the norm for piano majors as I understand it. Some practice much longer up to 10 hours I hear.

Last edited by Jethro; 05/19/21 01:05 PM.

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Originally Posted by Jethro
Just the title alone was embarrassing for me with my 20 minute practice sessions. I practiced hard for 3 hours yesterday. Thank you.
Glad to hear that!

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Originally Posted by BruceD
The title disturbed, not embarrassed, me. I can't believe that six hours of practice in one day is really productive, nor does it seem to me to be a good strategy for learning efficiently and well. The blog, with its references to becoming tired, would certainly underscore that.
First of all, I just want to clarify that I was never physically tired during my practice. I was talking about feeling a bit mentally drained. I thought that the practice was quite productive. I regularly practice upwards of 3-4 hours a day, and 5-6 seems to be my limit where I can still focus. As Jethro says, it is very common for piano majors to practice that amount, and I don't think it's harmful unless you're doing something injurious.

Also, I would feel tired, take a "break" for 15 minutes, and then come back to it, and the break would reset my attention -- I believe it works to solidify some of the concepts I had learned earlier in my head, in a manner akin to sleep.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Memorizing quickly is not the same as learning quickly. As long as one can read the music reasonably well, one can start focusing on interpretation(using that word here the way I think you are using it i.e. everything other than the notes and rhythm and not just one's personal ideas about the piece) very early and certainly much earlier than one would if one waited until the piece was memorized.

Most pianists don't try to memorize a piece as the first step and would not consider that a good idea. If you get bored quickly with pieces, I think you should try and choose pieces you like more and are generally considered very great works. I don't see how memorizing quickly would prevent boredom. It sounds to me like your method is a result of not having the reading skills to work from the score for a long time.
Thank you for the insightful commentary. While I was reading the score and memorizing, I was making sure to include all of the expressive markings such as crescendos, dynamics, and also thinking about phrasing and voicing, not just the notes.

I have grown used to memorizing, and I find it more comfortable to memorize rather than read from the score. I think you would need to be at a pretty high level in order to read a Chopin Nocturne from the score at tempo. I also enjoy playing pieces without the score.

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Originally Posted by Jethro
4-6 hours is the norm for piano majors as I understand it. Some practice much longer up to 10 hours I hear.
I think that 10 hours consistently could be bad for the joints, but it would be okay for 6 months to a year, and I have heard of people doing that. That is, if it only includes technical practice. I think it should be completely fine if large chunks of time are spent sightreading things below one's technical level, learning music theory, etc.

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Originally Posted by Jethro
[...]4-6 hours is the norm for piano majors as I understand it. Some practice much longer up to 10 hours I hear.

Yes, I realize that, and I have read that many of them have adapted practice strategies to cope with those long hours. I didn't know that the OP is a piano major, however. The repertoire level and practice "strategies" don't seem to indicate that.

Regards,


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Originally Posted by BlizzardPiano
[...]First of all, I just want to clarify that I was never physically tired during my practice. I was talking about feeling a bit mentally drained. [...]

That's my point.

Regards,


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