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Efficient method to practice Piano

XLAV
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1/19/2016 5:32:56 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
What is the most efficient method or advice to practice piano? I practice everyday but I feel like my progress is too slow.

Also is playing by ear better than playing by reading notes?
Vox_Veritas
Posts: 7,074
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1/20/2016 3:58:05 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/19/2016 5:32:56 PM, XLAV wrote:
What is the most efficient method or advice to practice piano? I practice everyday but I feel like my progress is too slow.

I don't really know what you're referring to by "method to practice piano". As a point of reference, what method are you using right now?

Also is playing by ear better than playing by reading notes?

Reading notes is better, though listening by ear as a secondary method can be helpful on occasions. Optimal accuracy is achieved by reading notes and it helps build discipline (which is important if you want to move beyond just casually playing the piano and if you want to perform pieces written by the masters).
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Wylted
Posts: 21,167
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1/20/2016 4:57:57 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/19/2016 5:32:56 PM, XLAV wrote:
What is the most efficient method or advice to practice piano? I practice everyday but I feel like my progress is too slow.

Also is playing by ear better than playing by reading notes?

You'll never get pvssy like that, pick up an acoustic guitar and get some voice lessons!
XLAV
Posts: 13,715
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1/20/2016 4:58:39 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/20/2016 4:57:57 AM, Wylted wrote:
At 1/19/2016 5:32:56 PM, XLAV wrote:
What is the most efficient method or advice to practice piano? I practice everyday but I feel like my progress is too slow.

Also is playing by ear better than playing by reading notes?

You'll never get pvssy like that, pick up an acoustic guitar and get some voice lessons!
but will singing and playing the piano still work?
XLAV
Posts: 13,715
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1/20/2016 4:59:48 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/20/2016 3:58:05 AM, Vox_Veritas wrote:
At 1/19/2016 5:32:56 PM, XLAV wrote:
What is the most efficient method or advice to practice piano? I practice everyday but I feel like my progress is too slow.

I don't really know what you're referring to by "method to practice piano". As a point of reference, what method are you using right now?
I practice 3 different pieces at the same time by reading the notes, though I'm slow at reading notes. That way, I won't get bored of practicing.
Wylted
Posts: 21,167
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1/20/2016 5:00:00 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/20/2016 4:58:39 AM, XLAV wrote:
At 1/20/2016 4:57:57 AM, Wylted wrote:
At 1/19/2016 5:32:56 PM, XLAV wrote:
What is the most efficient method or advice to practice piano? I practice everyday but I feel like my progress is too slow.

Also is playing by ear better than playing by reading notes?

You'll never get pvssy like that, pick up an acoustic guitar and get some voice lessons!
but will singing and playing the piano still work?

No
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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1/20/2016 5:05:04 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/19/2016 5:32:56 PM, XLAV wrote:
What is the most efficient method or advice to practice piano? I practice everyday but I feel like my progress is too slow.

Also is playing by ear better than playing by reading notes?

Use your metronome and focus on a specific, short passage of the piece and play over and over again not until you stop making mistakes, but until you pretty can't make mistakes. Focused, targeted repetition is indisputably the most efficient method.

If you're just starting out, you should learn to play by reading notes and not staring at your fingers -- this will pay off a lot more later.
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
XLAV
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1/20/2016 2:24:20 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/20/2016 5:05:04 AM, 000ike wrote:
At 1/19/2016 5:32:56 PM, XLAV wrote:
What is the most efficient method or advice to practice piano? I practice everyday but I feel like my progress is too slow.

Also is playing by ear better than playing by reading notes?

Use your metronome and focus on a specific, short passage of the piece and play over and over again not until you stop making mistakes, but until you pretty can't make mistakes. Focused, targeted repetition is indisputably the most efficient method.

If you're just starting out, you should learn to play by reading notes and not staring at your fingers -- this will pay off a lot more later.
Good advise.
Thanks.
FourTrouble
Posts: 12,759
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1/20/2016 11:48:38 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/20/2016 5:05:04 AM, 000ike wrote:
At 1/19/2016 5:32:56 PM, XLAV wrote:
What is the most efficient method or advice to practice piano? I practice everyday but I feel like my progress is too slow.

Also is playing by ear better than playing by reading notes?

Use your metronome and focus on a specific, short passage of the piece and play over and over again not until you stop making mistakes, but until you pretty can't make mistakes. Focused, targeted repetition is indisputably the most efficient method.

If you're just starting out, you should learn to play by reading notes and not staring at your fingers -- this will pay off a lot more later.

Do not follow this advice. This is very bad advice.

I'll respond to your questions later with some advice for piano.
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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1/20/2016 11:51:54 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/20/2016 11:48:38 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
At 1/20/2016 5:05:04 AM, 000ike wrote:
At 1/19/2016 5:32:56 PM, XLAV wrote:
What is the most efficient method or advice to practice piano? I practice everyday but I feel like my progress is too slow.

Also is playing by ear better than playing by reading notes?

Use your metronome and focus on a specific, short passage of the piece and play over and over again not until you stop making mistakes, but until you pretty can't make mistakes. Focused, targeted repetition is indisputably the most efficient method.

If you're just starting out, you should learn to play by reading notes and not staring at your fingers -- this will pay off a lot more later.

Do not follow this advice. This is very bad advice.

I'll respond to your questions later with some advice for piano.

Well I can attest that this is what I've been told from my teachers and what has worked for me. What makes you say it's bad advice?
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
FourTrouble
Posts: 12,759
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1/20/2016 11:52:35 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/20/2016 11:51:54 PM, 000ike wrote:
Well I can attest that this is what I've been told from my teachers and what has worked for me. What makes you say it's bad advice?

Bad teachers.

I'll explain later.
FourTrouble
Posts: 12,759
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1/21/2016 4:01:20 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/20/2016 11:51:54 PM, 000ike wrote:
Well I can attest that this is what I've been told from my teachers and what has worked for me. What makes you say it's bad advice?

Lots of reasons. First and foremost, metronomes fvck up your sense of rhythm. They teach you to play mechanically rather than conceptually. If you're going to repeat passages over and over while using a metronome, you're going to learn a number of bad habits while learning nothing useful. The bad habits include reliance on an outside mechanism for your pulse, a mechanical unnatural sounding pulse, a lack of beautiful or artistic or intellectual phrasing (you're going to be accenting pulses from the metronome more than other notes). These habits form without you even realizing they're forming. And the work it takes to break these habits later is much more difficult than forming the bad habits in the first place (general rule about habits: forming bad habits is easier than breaking them).

Second, the notion of repetition is useful, but it's only useful for the purpose of forming good habits. Repeating anything that creates a bad habit is a surefire way to become a bad pianist, and to create extra work for yourself. So, repetition alone isn't enough. What you need to do is spend lots of time thinking about the best way to play a piece. A famous pianist once told me that every technical problem in playing a piece, no matter how difficult, can be solved in less than 10 minutes, often without even needing to touch the piano. And this is because the piano, unlike the violin or guitar, doesn't require that you use tension when you play. You don't need to build a lot of muscles in your fingers or arms. If you feel tension, you're building a bad habit. Correct technique means relaxing to the extent where everything is easy. Practicing relaxation exercises is often more useful than playing the same thing over in a tense way.

From Xlav's description, he's not progressing quickly. It's probably, almost certainly, because he's playing with tension. The number one thing he should do is learn how to play without tension. That's something I'll explain in another post.
Rosalie
Posts: 4,612
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1/21/2016 4:05:07 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/19/2016 5:32:56 PM, XLAV wrote:
What is the most efficient method or advice to practice piano? I practice everyday but I feel like my progress is too slow.

Also is playing by ear better than playing by reading notes?

YouTube.
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000ike
Posts: 11,196
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1/21/2016 5:31:31 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/21/2016 4:01:20 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
At 1/20/2016 11:51:54 PM, 000ike wrote:
Well I can attest that this is what I've been told from my teachers and what has worked for me. What makes you say it's bad advice?

Lots of reasons. First and foremost, metronomes fvck up your sense of rhythm. They teach you to play mechanically rather than conceptually. If you're going to repeat passages over and over while using a metronome, you're going to learn a number of bad habits while learning nothing useful. The bad habits include reliance on an outside mechanism for your pulse, a mechanical unnatural sounding pulse, a lack of beautiful or artistic or intellectual phrasing (you're going to be accenting pulses from the metronome more than other notes). These habits form without you even realizing they're forming. And the work it takes to break these habits later is much more difficult than forming the bad habits in the first place (general rule about habits: forming bad habits is easier than breaking them).

I don't agree, and it's important that XLAV is aware that there are wildly divergent (and valid) perspectives on this. Metronomes are a bulwark of piano pedagogy for good reason; you have to impose structure before you can break away from it. And what he's developing right now is his technique not his interpretation. Keeping accurate and consistent tempo is not something people who aren't already musically trained can accomplish easily, ... it's a skill that's cultivated through practice (and with exposure to what accurate timing actually sounds like). Without use of a metronome early on, your performance is going to sound messy and uneven. Granted, avoiding dependency on a metronomes and learning to keep time mentally is imperative ... but that's something facilitated (not hindered) by initial use of the metronome.

Second, the notion of repetition is useful, but it's only useful for the purpose of forming good habits. Repeating anything that creates a bad habit is a surefire way to become a bad pianist, and to create extra work for yourself. So, repetition alone isn't enough. What you need to do is spend lots of time thinking about the best way to play a piece. A famous pianist once told me that every technical problem in playing a piece, no matter how difficult, can be solved in less than 10 minutes, often without even needing to touch the piano. And this is because the piano, unlike the violin or guitar, doesn't require that you use tension when you play. You don't need to build a lot of muscles in your fingers or arms. If you feel tension, you're building a bad habit. Correct technique means relaxing to the extent where everything is easy. Practicing relaxation exercises is often more useful than playing the same thing over in a tense way.

Agreed. Tension is a massive impediment.

From Xlav's description, he's not progressing quickly. It's probably, almost certainly, because he's playing with tension. The number one thing he should do is learn how to play without tension. That's something I'll explain in another post.

Well the advice I gave XLAV consisted of the following points: 1. use a metronome 2. focus on a specific passage 3. start slow then repeat until its effortless 4. read the sheetmusic 5. don't stare at your hands. Your response was a fairly strident rejection of all of this, but it seems like you only took issue with the first point.

And let me just add that learning to play an instrument (especially piano) requires tremendous patience and there are few if any shortcuts. Learning to ease the tension in your wrist and joints is fantastic advice, but not all there is to it. Developing a sense of the spatial distribution of the keys, learning to play with evenness in all fingers, acquiring finger independence, hand independence, gaining a sense of balance such that your fingers aren't slipping off and developing a general vocabulary of movement are all things that require careful, consistent, and structured repetition.
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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1/21/2016 5:40:33 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
Also, accenting the downbeat is something to be aware of and avoid while using a metronome ... not a reason not to use it. And the only conceivable way a student would have literally no concept of how the piece should be interpreted is if they a) aren't listening to professional performances and recordings and/or b) really aren't at all invested in the music itself
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
FourTrouble
Posts: 12,759
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1/21/2016 5:57:52 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/21/2016 5:31:31 PM, 000ike wrote:
At 1/21/2016 4:01:20 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
At 1/20/2016 11:51:54 PM, 000ike wrote:
Well I can attest that this is what I've been told from my teachers and what has worked for me. What makes you say it's bad advice?

Lots of reasons. First and foremost, metronomes fvck up your sense of rhythm. They teach you to play mechanically rather than conceptually. If you're going to repeat passages over and over while using a metronome, you're going to learn a number of bad habits while learning nothing useful. The bad habits include reliance on an outside mechanism for your pulse, a mechanical unnatural sounding pulse, a lack of beautiful or artistic or intellectual phrasing (you're going to be accenting pulses from the metronome more than other notes). These habits form without you even realizing they're forming. And the work it takes to break these habits later is much more difficult than forming the bad habits in the first place (general rule about habits: forming bad habits is easier than breaking them).

I don't agree, and it's important that XLAV is aware that there are wildly divergent (and valid) perspectives on this. Metronomes are a bulwark of piano pedagogy for good reason; you have to impose structure before you can break away from it. And what he's developing right now is his technique not his interpretation. Keeping accurate and consistent tempo is not something people who aren't already musically trained can accomplish easily, ... it's a skill that's cultivated through practice (and with exposure to what accurate timing actually sounds like). Without use of a metronome early on, your performance is going to sound messy and uneven. Granted, avoiding dependency on a metronomes and learning to keep time mentally is imperative ... but that's something facilitated (not hindered) by initial use of the metronome.

Your perspective isn't valid. It's demonstrably false. It's also a view held by bad pianists and bad piano teachers. The problem is that you simply don't understand rhythm, meter, tempo, or pulse. Metronomes aren't rhythmical, they don't teach meter, they fvck up your sense of tempo (and the way that it naturally speeds or slows based on emotion), and it's nothing close to a natural pulse. Heinrich Neuhaus, one of the greatest piano teachers of all time, explicitly advised against ever using the metronome. Josef Hofmann said much the same. I've studied piano with some of the best piano teachers in the world, and I know a number of incredible (and famous) pianists. Not a single one advises using the metronome.

Xlav's a smart dude. He doesn't need a metronome to count. Nor does he need a metronome to understand (conceptually) the particular rhythm in a particular piece, especially given how simple the rhythms are in the pieces he wants to learn. His inner pulse is better than a metronome's pulse, guaranteed, because it's inherently going to sound more natural. The only people who have unnatural inner pulses are people who use metronomes, and you can tell they use metronomes, because their music sounds mechanical, stale, and ugly.

Second, the notion of repetition is useful, but it's only useful for the purpose of forming good habits. Repeating anything that creates a bad habit is a surefire way to become a bad pianist, and to create extra work for yourself. So, repetition alone isn't enough. What you need to do is spend lots of time thinking about the best way to play a piece. A famous pianist once told me that every technical problem in playing a piece, no matter how difficult, can be solved in less than 10 minutes, often without even needing to touch the piano. And this is because the piano, unlike the violin or guitar, doesn't require that you use tension when you play. You don't need to build a lot of muscles in your fingers or arms. If you feel tension, you're building a bad habit. Correct technique means relaxing to the extent where everything is easy. Practicing relaxation exercises is often more useful than playing the same thing over in a tense way.

Agreed. Tension is a massive impediment.

Metronomes remove focus from relaxing to focusing on changing your natural pulse. It's insane, and completely counterproductive, and in every case I've seen, leads to more tension. Repetition with a metronome is the worst.

From Xlav's description, he's not progressing quickly. It's probably, almost certainly, because he's playing with tension. The number one thing he should do is learn how to play without tension. That's something I'll explain in another post.

Well the advice I gave XLAV consisted of the following points: 1. use a metronome 2. focus on a specific passage 3. start slow then repeat until its effortless 4. read the sheetmusic 5. don't stare at your hands. Your response was a fairly strident rejection of all of this, but it seems like you only took issue with the first point.

The other parts of this aren't as egregious, though they're not very great. Starting slow isn't worth addressing, since it's literally how anyone learns (and must learn); you can't play something fast until you learn it, nor would you want to play it fast. Reading sheetmusic is worth doing, but exclusively reading sheetmusic to the detriment of your ear is a massive mistake. As for not looking at your hands, there's nothing wrong with looking at your hands. Dunno where you got that idea. Most pianists look at their hands, not sheetmusic, when they play. Looking at your hands lets you focus on relaxing your fingers, relaxing your wrist, focus on the physical movements, which is what's going to help you progress.

And let me just add that learning to play an instrument (especially piano) requires tremendous patience and there are few if any shortcuts. Learning to ease the tension in your wrist and joints is fantastic advice, but not all there is to it. Developing a sense of the spatial distribution of the keys, learning to play with evenness in all fingers, acquiring finger independence, hand independence, gaining a sense of balance such that your fingers aren't slipping off and developing a general vocabulary of movement are all things that require careful, consistent, and structured repetition.

Literally everything you just said here comes from easing tension, except maybe the spatial distribution of keys part, which you develop from just playing over and over (or if you really want to develop it quickly, by structured improvisation). But generally, ease tension, the rest follows. That's how the piano works.

In fact, improvisation is probably one of the single best ways to develop your skills on the piano. If I were Xlav, I'd spend a week doing nothing but improvising. If you don't know how to improvise, that's okay: experiment. Try playing the worst possible music you could intentionally. See what sorts of things you can do with your fingers and hands that creates "bad" music. This is actually pretty tough to do. As you do this, explore different ways of moving your hands. Try to ease tension, relax your wrists. Try playing staccato notes. Fvck around with the pedals. The freedom you'll get from doing this will help you develop, in probably less than a week, everything ike talks about.
FourTrouble
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1/21/2016 6:16:21 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
Also, forgot to mention, practice with each hand separately until it's perfect separately. That, along with easing tension, are probably the two best pieces of advice I could give you. They go together insofar as practicing with only one hand is going to allow you to focus more on easing the tension in your arms, wrists, and fingers.

To ease tension, focus on using your entire body. Use your shoulders, arms, wrists, everything. Don't only apply pressure from your fingers. Let gravity do some of the work. And as much as possible try to play from your shoulders. I also recommend swimming. Not kidding. The way your arms and fingers feel in the water is the way they should feel when playing the piano. The more you go swimming, the more you'll understand how your body, shoulders, arms, fingers, and wrists should feel when playing the piano.

To see an example a great pianist (or at least great technique, totally relaxed playing, and very natural rhythm), see this: https://www.youtube.com...