QUOTE(fingersthumbs @ May 27 2010, 09:12 PM)
Hi there. I'm completely new to this and so this might sound like a stupid question.
Basically, I've had a piano for years but never had a lesson. I started lessons about 10wks ago, 1/2 hr every 10days or so. We started on grade 5 and I learned each abrsm piece by the time I had the next lesson. My teacher was very enthusiastic, so she asked me to pick a Bach prelude/fuge randomly and start it. I started one and have been learning it for 3 wks now. The problem is I can only play the first half of it VERY slowly hands together. What I'd like to know is
- how do I know if this piece is too difficult for me and when to give up?
- Wouldn't it be better to learn multiple easier pieces per fortnight than one piece that takes 2 months to learn to play very well?
- Do you think there is any danger in attempting a piece that is too hard?
I'm just finding it very frustrating, but because I've only just started lessons, I don't know what the norm is. How long do you typically expect to spend 'learning' a piece??
Disclaimer: I'm not a professional teacher.
I did something similar to my other half inadvertently. I am teaching him to play the piano, and I gave him a Grade 5 piece thinking it was Grade 3. (He has some musical experience so he can read music, he just can't play the piano).
It took him three months to be able to play through it with both hands slowly (It was the Bach two-part invention No 8 in D minor). At the same time he was doing some simpler pieces that took a couple of weeks to learn, each. My intention was to give him pieces of different difficulty so that he would have different things to work on- I just didn't intend the difference in difficulty to be that great.
Based on his experience:
* It did not do him any harm to learn something that was "too hard". In fact, I am wondering what the definition of "too hard" is based on this. If he had been totally unable to comprehend the piece or put it together, I would have thought it was too hard. But he was able to play more of it every week, so I could see progress being made. Based on this, I think that something is too hard only if the student is struggling and makes no progress over time.
* That said, there is danger in attempting something "too difficult" if the student gets frustrated. This may obviously vary with the student's temperament and age.
* Learning the Bach, difficult though it was, made a big difference to his other pieces. There were some weeks where he said that he'd spent most of the week practicing only the Bach. When I asked him to play the other pieces in lessons, even though he hadn't practiced them very much, there was still considerable improvement.
I do not think that there is a norm for how long to spend on a piece. I've spent most of the last two months learning one piece; the Debussy Toccata. It took me seven weeks to learn the first seven pages. I spent an average of an hour a day playing this piece only. Is that too much? I don't know- I'm still progressing, and I'm not bored, so I'm doing all right I think.
If you're learning the piano for pleasure and not for academic study (where I'd say breadth of study is important), then I think you should be free to play whatever you want subject to what your teacher advises!
Are you frustrated because you find the Bach too difficult and you are struggling to understand it, or are you frustrated because you don't know how long you "ought" to take to learn it? I think if you are happy to make progress slowly, you're doing OK.