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#3140505 07/25/21 07:05 PM
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This still blows my mind that playing small chunks is easier but then you double that chunk, such as add the next chunk even if both were practiced, it’s not twice as hard but feels about 4x harder to put together. I try to grab bigger chunks but it’s so challenging should I keep working small chunks longer before adding more? It’s such a tricky balance I feel like practice is it’s own art form that is very confusing at times.

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Can you provide a little more information? ., can you describe what problem you have when you put them together? Are you practicing very slowly? When you put them together, are you playing them the same way you practiced (I.e. hands together?)

One thing I do, which might (?) help: when I define a chunk, I practice the chunk PLUS one or two notes in the next measure. That way it doesn’t quite feel like I am just adding a bunch of independent blocks together.


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the point of practice is to make new/new'ish/old/very information more practical, so don't go for longer chunks unless it feels easy to do so. ask yourself honestly if you want to practice longer because it's getting easier to play or because you aren't making music progress... if it's the latter then shorter more focused and goal-oriented practice is needed, which takes time to figure out, especially being a beginner. i recommend posting a video and not getting defensive because people don't know how/how much you practice/your physiological/mental state, etc.


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Originally Posted by dogperson
Sebs
Can you provide a little more information? ., can you describe what problem you have when you put them together? Are you practicing very slowly? When you put them together, are you playing them the same way you practiced (I.e. hands together?)

One thing I do, which might (?) help: when I define a chunk, I practice the chunk PLUS one or two notes in the next measure. That way it doesn’t quite feel like I am just adding a bunch of independent blocks together.

For me it just seems pairing any extra part everything goes out the window. Like if learned chunk a and b then do and ab as one chunk it’s a struggle.


Originally Posted by WarDesu
the point of practice is to make new/new'ish/old/very information more practical, so don't go for longer chunks unless it feels easy to do so. ask yourself honestly if you want to practice longer because it's getting easier to play or because you aren't making music progress... if it's the latter then shorter more focused and goal-oriented practice is needed, which takes time to figure out, especially being a beginner. i recommend posting a video and not getting defensive because people don't know how/how much you practice/your physiological/mental state, etc.

Definitely doesn’t feel easier with bigger chunks I just thought it would be good to try bigger sections. I don’t get defensive and I appreciate feedback. I feel it’s still tricky for me to determine how big a chunk and divide up hands separate and hand together etc.

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You don't want to practice a, then b, and the link a and b...

You want to practice a+b.... The practice b+c..... then practice a+b+c. This is linking.

What this means in practice, is for example, you play two measures plus the first two notes of the third measure. Then you practice measure three and four.... notice that you're now starting with the two notes that you finished with in your previous round of chunk practicing. Then you zoom out and play measures one through four.

Reduce the size of the chunk if needed, but you see what I mean by linking.

If this feels overwhelming, the music may be too hard, the chunk may be too large, or you need to start with hand separate practice....

Or maybe you're just playing too fast??

Or maybe you can handle the tempo in the chunks, but when you put it together, suddenly, it's too much at that tempo. If so, slow down the tempo while you're chunking.


Still too hard? Go back to HS practice.

Still too hard? Where is your brain when you practice? Try this:

Chunk practice, say measures one and two plus those two notes in measure three. But when your hands get to the end of the chunk, sing or hum the rest of measure three and on to measure four. This is having your hands play only the chunk but your brain looks ahead. This is another kind of linking.

Do it (the hum/sing part) for both the RH and the left hand. If you are really struggling, this might push you past it.

Remember, to play the piano, you need both hands and your brain to participate.


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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
You don't want to practice a, then b, and the link a and b...

You want to practice a+b.... The practice b+c..... then practice a+b+c. This is linking.

What this means in practice, is for example, you play two measures plus the first two notes of the third measure. Then you practice measure three and four.... notice that you're now starting with the two notes that you finished with in your previous round of chunk practicing. Then you zoom out and play measures one through four.

Reduce the size of the chunk if needed, but you see what I mean by linking.

If this feels overwhelming, the music may be too hard, the chunk may be too large, or you need to start with hand separate practice....

Or maybe you're just playing too fast??

Or maybe you can handle the tempo in the chunks, but when you put it together, suddenly, it's too much at that tempo. If so, slow down the tempo while you're chunking.


Still too hard? Go back to HS practice.

Still too hard? Where is your brain when you practice? Try this:

Chunk practice, say measures one and two plus those two notes in measure three. But when your hands get to the end of the chunk, sing or hum the rest of measure three and on to measure four. This is having your hands play only the chunk but your brain looks ahead. This is another kind of linking.

Do it (the hum/sing part) for both the RH and the left hand. If you are really struggling, this might push you past it.

Remember, to play the piano, you need both hands and your brain to participate.
This is great! ❤️


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I'd recommend to work phrase by phrase instead of measure by measure where possible, I.e. the division should be logical rather than rhythmical. That way the brain remembers material better.

Ideally every phrase should be practiced in isolation until you feel muscle memory buildup. With years this moment comes sooner. Focusing on sensations of your hands helps to build muscle memory faster.

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Before adding the next bit, I'd make sure the previous bit is secure. I may be working on 1 section for a few days or a week to make sure I'm comfortable with the notes & nuiances. I'd add the next section in small chunks.

There are sections that are straight forward I wouldn't spend a lot of time repeating. Just need to repeat the challenging bits until they get to the required tempo.

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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
You don't want to practice a, then b, and the link a and b...

You want to practice a+b.... The practice b+c..... then practice a+b+c. This is linking.

What this means in practice, is for example, you play two measures plus the first two notes of the third measure. Then you practice measure three and four.... notice that you're now starting with the two notes that you finished with in your previous round of chunk practicing. Then you zoom out and play measures one through four.

Reduce the size of the chunk if needed, but you see what I mean by linking.

If this feels overwhelming, the music may be too hard, the chunk may be too large, or you need to start with hand separate practice....

Or maybe you're just playing too fast??

Or maybe you can handle the tempo in the chunks, but when you put it together, suddenly, it's too much at that tempo. If so, slow down the tempo while you're chunking.


Still too hard? Go back to HS practice.

Still too hard? Where is your brain when you practice? Try this:

Chunk practice, say measures one and two plus those two notes in measure three. But when your hands get to the end of the chunk, sing or hum the rest of measure three and on to measure four. This is having your hands play only the chunk but your brain looks ahead. This is another kind of linking.

Do it (the hum/sing part) for both the RH and the left hand. If you are really struggling, this might push you past it.

Remember, to play the piano, you need both hands and your brain to participate.

I think the focus is a huge part and I often bounce around too much and don't set a clear plan or stick with it. I just keep winging it best I can haha.


Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I'd recommend to work phrase by phrase instead of measure by measure where possible, I.e. the division should be logical rather than rhythmical. That way the brain remembers material better.

Ideally every phrase should be practiced in isolation until you feel muscle memory buildup. With years this moment comes sooner. Focusing on sensations of your hands helps to build muscle memory faster.

I was doing less than a phrase because in the songs I'm working on the phrase is a bit too long. I'm trying to break them up with lyrics a bit as I'm working on piano solo. Agree it takes years for these things to come faster I probably need to reset my expectations again and be patient.


Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
Before adding the next bit, I'd make sure the previous bit is secure. I may be working on 1 section for a few days or a week to make sure I'm comfortable with the notes & nuiances. I'd add the next section in small chunks.

There are sections that are straight forward I wouldn't spend a lot of time repeating. Just need to repeat the challenging bits until they get to the required tempo.

I thought this as well, then I feel like I keep having a very solid beginning of a song then the rest is less polished. That's also why I was trying larger chunks and moving ahead sooner than usual.

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I find this to be true when working on a piece by Bach. (In my case Musette from English Suite No 3) I break it down into mainly 4 bar phrases.
The whole thing is mainly a two voice counterpoint, with a light sprinkle of added harmony notes here and there. Technically it is a very simple piece, but intellectually it is a challenge to assemble the whole thing on the fly.
I try tricks like singing one voice separately, while playing and listening to the rest. There is progress with the ear, I notice. But not much when it comes to playing it, if a strong draft blows through the house and removes the sheet music.
Good luck


Will do some R&B for a while. Give the classical a break.
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To get a piece really secure, you should be able to start at any bar instead of always at the beginning of a section.

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Another point about chunking practice... Say you practice chunk a, you feel like you've mostly mastered chunk, so you move on to chunk b. Then when you go back to chunk a, you may expect to have it mastered, so when it doesn't feel that way the first run through, you think it's not working or you're not succeeding at practice.

This is probably a problem of expectations more than anything else. You may need a few more run throughs of chunk a to get it to the previously "mastered" state (I'm using the word mastered loosely here).

So if you expect that, it won't throw you.

This is also connected to the tempo problem ... what happens, I think, is that we play some chunks at the beginning of the piece, they feel under control, so then we play some more in the middle, or maybe even all the way to the end. In the course of all this chunking, our tempo is creeping up. When we go back to the beginning, suddenly it feels like we can't play it. That might be because we backslid and we need to re-practice/re-learn a bit, but it's just as likely that it's because of tempo. When we first started playing at the beginning, the tempo was slower and we sped up without realizing it.


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Originally Posted by Sebs
I thought this as well, then I feel like I keep having a very solid beginning of a song then the rest is less polished. That's also why I was trying larger chunks and moving ahead sooner than usual.
One trick that's helped me a lot is to start at the end, of a phrase, or of your piece or song, and work backwards chunk by chunk. That way it gets easier as you play forward.
,
Originally Posted by Sebs
I think the focus is a huge part and I often bounce around too much and don't set a clear plan or stick with it. I just keep winging it best I can haha.
Maybe this approach would help: they found that scheduling when people bounce back and forth works better than letting them choose when to bounce, or doing one thing first then the other.
Schedule your breaks


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Originally Posted by tangleweeds
Originally Posted by Sebs
I thought this as well, then I feel like I keep having a very solid beginning of a song then the rest is less polished. That's also why I was trying larger chunks and moving ahead sooner than usual.
One trick that's helped me a lot is to start at the end, of a phrase, or of your piece or song, and work backwards chunk by chunk. That way it gets easier as you play forward.
If you mean because you've practiced/played the later measures more then that reasoning is flawed because the measures nearer the beginning will be less secure. You've replaced one problem by another one.

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Which song are you working on, Seb?

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by tangleweeds
Originally Posted by Sebs
I thought this as well, then I feel like I keep having a very solid beginning of a song then the rest is less polished. That's also why I was trying larger chunks and moving ahead sooner than usual.
One trick that's helped me a lot is to start at the end, of a phrase, or of your piece or song, and work backwards chunk by chunk. That way it gets easier as you play forward.
If you mean because you've practiced/played the later measures more then that reasoning is flawed because the measures nearer the beginning will be less secure. You've replaced one problem by another one.

Pianoloverus, not necessarily. Especially because starting at the end tends to disrupt the natural tendency to keep playing sections that are already playable.

Obviously the person will have to work on the beginning sections and learn them, get them playable. But the argument for starting at the end is twofold: 1) often the more difficult parts occur later in the piece, so practicing those parts first means we're more likely to practice those parts more often over the "lifecycle" of having the piece on the practice menu. 2) When actually playing a piece from beginning to end, we play forward in the piece (obviously). If someone starts their practice at the end of a piece, it means that when playing, they'll be moving towards material that is more familiar, and many people find it's easier to play this way rather than having the most familiar part be the beginning and moving towards material that is less familiar.


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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by tangleweeds
Originally Posted by Sebs
I thought this as well, then I feel like I keep having a very solid beginning of a song then the rest is less polished. That's also why I was trying larger chunks and moving ahead sooner than usual.
One trick that's helped me a lot is to start at the end, of a phrase, or of your piece or song, and work backwards chunk by chunk. That way it gets easier as you play forward.
If you mean because you've practiced/played the later measures more then that reasoning is flawed because the measures nearer the beginning will be less secure. You've replaced one problem by another one.

Pianoloverus, not necessarily. Especially because starting at the end tends to disrupt the natural tendency to keep playing sections that are already playable.

Obviously the person will have to work on the beginning sections and learn them, get them playable. But the argument for starting at the end is twofold: 1) often the more difficult parts occur later in the piece, so practicing those parts first means we're more likely to practice those parts more often over the "lifecycle" of having the piece on the practice menu. 2) When actually playing a piece from beginning to end, we play forward in the piece (obviously). If someone starts their practice at the end of a piece, it means that when playing, they'll be moving towards material that is more familiar, and many people find it's easier to play this way rather than having the most familiar part be the beginning and moving towards material that is less familiar.


There is another reason to focus on the end if you are memorizing the score: if the ending is secure, you have a secure ‘jump to place’ if you need an escape route. My teacher also made sure I could start at the last section or final measures on demand.


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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
Pianoloverus, not necessarily. Especially because starting at the end tends to disrupt the natural tendency to keep playing sections that are already playable.
Only at the very beginning when you don't have the piece in your fingers yet. Most of the work happens after that.

Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
1) often the more difficult parts occur later in the piece, so practicing those parts first means we're more likely to practice those parts more often over the "lifecycle" of having the piece on the practice menu.
But in many pieces the later sections build up on the beginning. Learning the beginning lets you approach the easier material first and then build on that gradually. Interpretational choices used for the begining have a large influence on the later parts and those choices are clearer/easier to make when the material is simpler.

Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
2) When actually playing a piece from beginning to end, we play forward in the piece (obviously). If someone starts their practice at the end of a piece, it means that when playing, they'll be moving towards material that is more familiar, and many people find it's easier to play this way rather than having the most familiar part be the beginning and moving towards material that is less familiar.
None of the material should be "less familiar". If that's the case then you're not ready to play the piece yet and you have to practice those parts. As a strategy to discipline yourself this is very short-sighted and may result in glossing over difficulties because you want to play the easier part that comes before or playing a whole section through (whether the section is at the beginning or the end is irrelevant, you should practice the hard parts only).

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Originally Posted by fatar760
Which song are you working on, Seb?

Tears in Heaven from an old lead sheet. We're also doing some fancier things with the RH melody where we add some triads below top note on certain parts of the melody. So I'm probably doing just fine and simply need an expectation reset. I mean no matter how much you learn a chunk making it bigger or combining phrases will always be an extra step and take time to get them down well as they don't just fall in place cause you know parts A and B.

Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
1) often the more difficult parts occur later in the piece, so practicing those parts first means we're more likely to practice those parts more often over the "lifecycle" of having the piece on the practice menu.

I'm not sure if this applies to pop? I feel like the intro, verse, bridge, chorus, etc. are generally the same level of difficulty, but I don't have a lot of exposure to songs as beginner. Only reason I throw that out there is I think often some of these general ideas are from the classical side...

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[quote]I'm not sure if this applies to pop? I feel like the intro, verse, bridge, chorus, etc. are generally the same level of difficulty, but I don't have a lot of exposure to songs as beginner. Only reason I throw that out there is I think often some of these general ideas are from the classical side...[quote]

Ahh, good point!


Hmmm.... In that case, you're playing from a lead sheet right? So one thing to practice are the changes, the bridge, the transition points.... And I would also the really stress my suggestion several posts up about playing a chunk with hands but then singing or humming past the end of the chunk that even if your hands aren't moving forward in the piece, your brain is.

The other thing to practice is playing through your confusion. Pretend you're playing with other people, and you can't stop because they're not going to stop. So keeping at least one hand going when you mess up is another skill that can be developed, and practicing in chunks works with that.


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