Practicing technique

Technique, methods and advice for learners

Postby Dan » Mon Jul 30, 2007 8:05 am

Hi! I’m new to the discussion. Briefly, I’m a 46 year old piano student; I started taking lessons as a complete beginner at the age of 37 (when my kids started private lessons). I’ve worked really hard since then, and I’m presently playing at the level of the Bach 2-part inventions/little preludes, some Kuhlau, Mozart K545, etc. Life is really busy, and I’m lucky if I can get 30-45 minute practice most days. I’m also no longer taking lessons. For the past year and a half or so, I have stopped practicing technique, and just worked on pieces. My question is, if I want to get back into technique practice (I feel my playing is suffering) and only want to spend 10-15 minutes tops on tech, what should I work on? When I quit lessons, I was working on my RCM gr. 8, so I was starting on 4-octave HT scales, 4-octave arpeggios HT with inversions, and 4-note chords broken and solid, but it was all just too intense. I would really appreciate some guidance on this, and thanks in advance,
Dan
Dan
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2007 6:58 am
Location: Canada

Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Mon Jul 30, 2007 9:14 am

Welcome to you, Dan, and best wishes for your continued study.

Regarding techical practice, I'd like to suggest that you begin by reading the six articles on our site under "Technique Matters". I think my own, "Practicing: Who Makes the Decisions?" relates specifically to your question, because the listening, the concentration, and the mental focus involved are far more important than the amount of time spent at the keyboard.

Just click on "Teaching Studio" in the box at upper left, then on the title "Technique Matters".

Stay with us! Conmments and questions from adult students are especially valuable to the forum.

Dr. Bill Leland, Editor at Large.
Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
Dr. Bill Leland
 
Posts: 548
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Las Cruces, NM

Postby Dan » Mon Jul 30, 2007 9:37 am

Thanks Dr. bill,
I will surely read what you suggested. Your site is fantasic, and the discussion forum looks excellent as well. It will be good to have a place to ask questions on technical matters (fingerings, tempo, etc) since i no longer take lessons and sometimes i'm scratching my head. This morning i discovered the audition room, and listened to a piece i've started working on - Grieg's arietta.
Dan
Dan
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2007 6:58 am
Location: Canada

Postby Stretto » Mon Jul 30, 2007 9:52 am

Welcome!

I don't have too much time to practice either. Anyone can disagree if they want but I would say for "exercises" with limited time, I would practice scales. What I do is sort of rotate scales, practicing a couple one day, another couple the next day. Have you ever practiced scales in different rhythms or with a metronome gradually increasing speed? It helps me a lot and varies it (I'm a big advocate of variety in practice).

My last teacher was big on scales and how simply practicing scales could help with a lot of technical matters in pieces. After she had me thinking this way and paying attention especially to good technique while playing scales, I started noticing all the scale-like passages one runs into in pieces. After practicing scales regularly, it makes whizzing through them or parts of them when encountered in a piece so simple.

Also, I had an instructor once really big on showing me all the "mini-exercises" one could make from parts of the pieces you are practicing. This I've found really helpful (also adds variety to practicing :D ). If you are playing the pieces you mentioned, chances are you probably already do practice passages or parts of pieces all different ways by making little exercises from those parts.

Funny thing for me about having limited time to practice, all those times I do have more time available to practice, I end up letting that time go on other things and not using it for practice anyway - seems that's always the way life is.
Stretto
 
Posts: 745
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 10:34 pm
Location: Mo.

Postby Dan » Mon Jul 30, 2007 10:54 am

Hi stretto, thanx for the suggestions. I did the metronome thing when i had to get my technique up to speed for my gr. 6 and gr. 7 exams (RCM) but usually i just play my scales etc at whatever feels fluid and comfortable.
I agree that scales help: especially with stuff like kuhlau sonatinas! I find that scales, in particular, help me to stay on my fingertips, and help me visualize the keyboard in terms of keys(musical, not piano!)
My current thinking is, if i only have 10 minutes or so allocated for technique, to include for a particular major or minor key:
-2-octave hands-together scale
-2 octaves of hands-together 4-note chords (either tonic, dominant 7th or diminished 7th), solid and broken
-arpeggios, hands separate, with inversions.
My thinking is, that is a somewhat well-rounded list of technical demands, without getting too crazy.

since i haven't been practicing my tech for over a year, i had the interesting experience of pulling out an old exam piece, fur Elise, and really bogging down in the a minor arpeggios in the last section! My thumb kept tucking under and hitting the wrong key! This is what really got me thinking about getting back into technique practice.
Dan
Dan
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2007 6:58 am
Location: Canada

Postby 112-1182392787 » Tue Jul 31, 2007 4:03 pm

think my own, "Practicing: Who Makes the Decisions?" relates specifically to your question, because the listening, the concentration, and the mental focus involved are far more important than the amount of time spent at the keyboard.

That is an excellent article! This year I learned something about mental focus: planning how you will play each note and succession of notes ahead of time, anticipating what you are going to play just before to play it, listening to yourself without tuning out some opf the time. The paying attention to how you are doing something, when does tension come, why, is there a better way (is there something you want to ask your teacher if you have one, or a musician whose expertise you trust) - and then practising that by itself, and within the music. It is amazing how much faster one progresses that way, and even what happens to the music.
User avatar
112-1182392787
 

Postby pianogal » Mon Aug 06, 2007 2:16 pm

My teacher also tells me to practice 4-octave scale, 4-octave appeggio and chords.

and so glad that you are interested in learning piano as an adult! my parents won't let me teach them...haha :laugh:
Don't ever give up piano, because you will like it someday
User avatar
pianogal
 
Posts: 114
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 5:02 pm
Location: Reno, Nevada

Postby 112-1182392787 » Mon Aug 06, 2007 4:41 pm

and so glad that you are interested in learning piano as an adult! my parents won't let me teach them

I think my son would rather have me as an accompanist. I played Clementi, Beethoven, Mozart 30 years ago but was self-taught and could not even name the notes I was playing. It is much wiser to learn technique as well as theory, and to do so from the beginning so that you don't have to undo bad habits. :)
User avatar
112-1182392787
 


Return to Learning Piano

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest