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Can you over-practice pieces?


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#1 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 06:31

As the topic says. What are the tell-tale signs?


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#2 Digby

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 07:07

If you are spending a lot of time practising a piece, you need to be practising so you physically can't get the piece wrong.  So focusing on minute detail, muscle movements, making absolutely sure every finger is correct, dynamics, phrasing musicality etc etc. and don't forget that you need to practise performing it to an audience too.  

 

The mistake many of my (and I'm sure others) pupils make is once they know a piece they just play it repeatedly, giving themselves a private performance without activating their brain first so the piece becomes messy and bored.  It then needs a break, it needs just putting away and resurrecting at a future date. 

 

This is why judging the entry for exams is so tricky as if they are ready too early the pieces become over cooked or too late and they are not completely secure and mistakes are inevitable.  

 

With more advanced pieces it is always a good idea to learn a piece then rest it and revisit it after a reasonable break.  When you hear professionals they have often been playing these pieces for years with plenty of rests and relearns along the way.  


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#3 elemimele

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 07:53

Definitely! There comes a point where either we haven't got any ideas about how to improve a piece, or where we haven't got the technical skill to implement the ideas, so there's no way forward. Then we just play, repeatedly, and after a while, the ears turn off, and we're not truly listening to ourselves - and that's a really bad situation. At this stage, it's best to put the piece away for a bit, and do something else. There may be lessons to be learned from other pieces that can be brought back to the first one later.

 

Also, if you're practising piece A, you're not learning piece B, which leads to a stunted overall repertoire.

 

Of course there's nothing wrong with treating oneself to playing through some old friends once in a while, not as serious practice, but to keep them in the head and heart.

 

As for the symptoms: the question is "how much am I changing the way I play this piece from day to day?". If the answer is basically zero, then perhaps it's time to change piece or change strategy.


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#4 Dotty old crotchet

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 08:11

Hi everyone,

This is my first post. Just wanted to say that this information is really, really helpful. I'm re-teaching myself recorder and I often wonder how to tell when it's time to move onto a new piece. Now I know!

Thanks, Jacqui
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#5 cestrian

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 14:07

A technique my teacher has started to impress on me (admittedly when it comes to scales and phrases in pieces rather than pieces as a whole) is to play something, quickly followed by something else which is slightly different. If you can't switch form one to the other and back again without making a mistake, you haven't practised enough!

 

Amateurs practice until they get it right, professional practise until they can't get it wrong, etc...


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#6 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 17:58

Some sensible advice! Thanks.


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#7 erard

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 20:09

Some pieces I have called overpracticed when muscle memory takes over and I find I am stuck with the exact same interpretation every time, like an automaton.  An indiction of this is catching myself playing a passage and wondering how I got there.


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