Repertoire burnout! - Has this ever happened to you?

Discuss the piano literature and how to teach and learn it

Postby Chris X » Sun Feb 13, 2005 2:11 am

I have an upcoming audition, and the pieces I will be performing I have been working on for well over a year.

One piece is the first movement of Beethoven's op. 2, no. 3 Sonata. There are times when I practice it, that I get so aggrivated that I just never want to take on another Beethoven Sonata again. I had a piano lesson a week ago, and my teacher and I spent about 25 minutes just working on the double thirds opening.

Another piece is the prelude of Bach's Prelude & Fugue in D, Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1. While the Fugue feels as though it is getting better, that prelude is very difficult to perform with complete accuracy and evenness.

While I personally feel as though it is good to spend time with a piece, I am just getting burnt out working on the same thing over and over again. Sadly, I cannot quit because of my upcoming auditions.

Any Suggestions?
Lots and lots of dotted rhythm practice
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Postby Beckywy » Sun Feb 13, 2005 9:29 am

I felt the same way about scales, until an examiner told me that in an exam, students who played scales like music are the ones who receive the top marks. Now, when I practice the scales, I try to make the sound beautiful, and I actually enjoy it.

Regarding your pieces - it could be because you haven't had the "aha" moment. That moment when it clicks in your brain and you finally understand what you're suppose to be doing. Is it possible to have another teacher listen to you? A master class? Maybe a different perspective could help.

About spending 25 mins on the opening of the sonata. That's nothing. I once spent an entire hour and a half with my teacher on just the first 2 chords of the Sonata Op10, no 2...trying to make it sound like birds stating a quesiton.
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Sun Feb 13, 2005 1:12 pm

Right on. Abram Chasins tells in his book "Speaking of Pianists" of coming to Rachmaninoff's home to pick him up one day. Hearing the piano, he decided to wait on the porch and listen to Rachmaninoff practice. He said R. was going so slowly that it took a full five minutes to figure out what he was practicing (it was the Chopin Etude in Thirds).

The Beethoven Opus 2, No. 3 is a HARD piece!! The opening thirds have driven a lot of people crazy, including me.

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Postby Chris X » Sun Feb 13, 2005 11:33 pm

Beckywy wrote:About spending 25 mins on the opening of the sonata. That's nothing. I once spent an entire hour and a half with my teacher on just the first 2 chords of the Sonata Op10, no 2...trying to make it sound like birds stating a quesiton.

I agree, I guess it is just that I have been working on the piece for almost two years. One thing that I have definitely learned by working on this piece is that some techniques take a lot of time.

I am working with a new teacher now, and we have had three lessons so far. She has given me some new perspectives regarding my repertoire, and I feel as though it is helping.

Also, I recently lisened to Alfred Brendels recording of the Beethoven, and I enjoyed it much more than other recordings I have heard.
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Postby 81-1074658942 » Tue Mar 15, 2005 10:32 am

I'm working on a Beethoven sonata at the moment as well. I've had it since the beginning of December... It's the op. 10 no 3 in D major. it's lovely, but it's surprisingly difficult to get the rhythm and everything exactly right, especially in the first movement. And I've been so busy that I'm just now memorizing the fourth movement. Figures. But I'm doing a joint recital with a friend at the end of May, and I'd like to have it down... The maddening thing is that I can play it almost perfectly when I play slowly, but it absolutely dies when I try to speed it up. Being able to play it at tempo eventually might be nice! :p That Beethoven guy... I remember hearing that in his day violinists would complain about how difficult his works were to perform and his reply was something like "Do you think I care about your puny little violin when I am visited by my muse?" O well. Best of luck on getting your sonata nailed down! And good luck with auditions! applying for music school?
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Postby 75-1095335090 » Tue Mar 15, 2005 5:41 pm

When I was learning one of my favourite pieces (it's called Evolution... I wish I knew who the composer is!) I found myself losing track of time a lot.

One time in particular stands out in my mind. I had sat down to practice around noon on a saturday. I was happily playing along, thrilled that several sections were finally coming together, when the phone rang. Irritated, I went to answer it and found that it was one of my friends from band. She wanted to know where I was (duh, at home, I answered the phone, didn't I?). She was calling because I was late showing up for the band party... which started at 7pm.

Oops.

P.S. part of the party was held at the conductor's house... he had a lovely grand piano... I had been on such a roll earlier that I couldn't resist spending an hour or so playing on it. It was great!




Edited By Kittypalooza on 1110930233
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Postby Ursie » Fri Mar 18, 2005 4:19 pm

Quidam wrote:The maddening thing is that I can play it almost perfectly when I play slowly, but it absolutely dies when I try to speed it up. Being able to play it at tempo eventually might be nice!

Hi Quidam, I remember you mentioned last year that you played Ravel's Sonatine. Did you find that one difficult to get up to speed? I'm working on Ravel's Sonatine at the moment and sometimes I wonder if I will ever get it going at the speed I would like. Another thing I have come across - its in the 2nd movement in the Ravel - is a spread of notes that I can't quite reach. I have a small hand but can usually stretch out quite far.This has happened to me in a Brahms piece that I'm playing but that one is acceptable spread out however I'm not convinced it works quite as well with the Ravel but to miss out notes isn't acceptable either.....Any one else have this problem?
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Sat Mar 19, 2005 9:50 am

Small hands has ALWAYS been my problem. In the Sonatine 2nd movement, I can't reach the first r.h. chord in m. 8 with 1-2-5 fingering, so I've learned to catch both the G and the A-flat with the thumb, but it's tricky.

I'm not sure where the other stretch problems would be? The extended l.h. chords in mm. 23, 25 and 26 are marked arpeggiated in my Durand edition.

Incidentally, for an easy way to play the tenor melody ("en dehors") beginning in m. 27, catch the last two 16ths of m. 28 in the right hand; your right thumb is already on the A-flat anyway, and it gives the left hand a chance to prepare the B-flat grace note in the next measure. Do the same thing in m. 31.

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Postby Ursie » Sun Mar 20, 2005 11:31 am

Many thanks - I think with some practice I will be able to catch the G and Ab with my thumb, the trick will be getting both notes and the top note to sound at exactly the same time!

The "en dehors" suggestion - I will switch to playing this way. I am able to play it without using the RH to play the last two 16th - but having tried it the way you suggested I think it plays far smoother this way - definately as I start to bring it up to speed.

The other stretches I referred to were not in the Sonatine - I was talking about Brahms. On re-reading my post I probably didn't explain myself very well!

Thanks for taking the time to answer my post - it's much appreciated.
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Postby presto » Mon May 02, 2005 7:03 am

Chris,

I know very well what you mean about being tired of playing one or two pieces over and over. When I'm preparing for my annual end-of-the-year recital, it usually means about two pieces are the focus of my attention for the majority of that year, and it can be so very tiring--at times, I feel like falling asleep while I'm playing because I'm the kind of person who likes variety.

To combat this problem, the only advice I have is to play other pieces that you like once in a while, as a sort of break--not pieces that require working on, but ones that you already know quite well and find enjoyable to play just because you feel like it. That should help you avoid the burned-out feeling. Then, remember your auditions, take a deep breath, and soldier on!
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Postby 108-1120772819 » Fri Jul 08, 2005 4:05 pm

Start the pieces again.
Sometimes when people get bored of a piece they struggle through the whole thing and play it badly over and over which means they get nowhere. Take it a bar at a time, it's painful but it's the only way to learn it.
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Postby Tranquillo » Sun Sep 23, 2007 4:20 am

It happens to me all the time! Burnout with repertioire! The thing is I find if the piece is still a challenge then it is not 'boring' at all. Its normally when I dont work on expressive techniques and details when I feel like arghhh BORING!
Having said that besides playing piano I sing aswell ... Burnout has got to be big here! The last song I did was Webbers Phantom of the Opera and strangly enough no burnout. But I think its because I rarely got to practice in an ensemble and I worked on acting and emotion in singing when I practiced myself. Normally songs especially pop type simple easy to sing songs get so boring and repetive to me! But songs that show off range and emotions and communications are really good fun!
With playing piano if I ever have burnout practicing I try playing with the lights off ... nice challenge... often I dont do well!
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Postby Tarnia » Sun Sep 23, 2007 2:50 pm

I second (third?) the playing other pieces. ESp if you can pieces that stress the same techniques etc...so practicing but not, if that makes sense :p

I also find playing in different keys (if good at transposing...takes me awhile :;): ), different rhythms, playing an octave (or two, or three...) higher/lower, playing IN octaves...all help to relieve the boredom.

I did that Prelude/Fugue for my gr. 10 exam, it is not as easy as it maybe looks to some people! I have yet to get it up to the recommended speed :p
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Postby Tranquillo » Sat Dec 15, 2007 4:34 am

Now when I think about it, I think this happens when you think that you have mastered the work so much that you cant make a mistake or make it better than it sounds.
When I dont get guidence from a teacher or somebody, or any tips here and there I feel that practice does get boring.
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Postby pianogal » Sun Dec 16, 2007 7:07 pm

WOW, those ARE hard pieces.............Great choice!!!
Don't ever give up piano, because you will like it someday
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