Saturday, 16 February 2013
Today I had a lesson with my teacher in London. I think it went OK. I am working on Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata, Liszt's La Campanella, Estampes by Debussy, Beethoven's Concerto Number One and Chopin's Scherzo Number One. When I practice I usually work on a small section at a time, slowly to begin with. I make sure the fingering is correct right at the start because I don't want to re-learn it later.
There are a lot of different tips for practicing which I found online, here are some of the good ones from a piano teacher called Julie Lind...
1. Don't over-schedule. I have heard so many students talk about their unbelievably busy schedules. Taking piano lessons is not merely a half-hour a week commitment. It needs to be a daily commitment. If a student is too busy to practice then there is no need for them to be taking piano lessons.
(I think this is very important. I like to play piano so I want to be good at it. I also like playing table tennis and lots of other things. But I decided that playing piano is the thing I want to be best at, so I guess the other stuff has to take second place.)
2. Do it right from the very beginning. Once you have practiced something incorrectly, it is very difficult to correct it later on. According to psychologists: A stimulus enters long-term memory (that is, it is "learned") after it has been attentively observed 7 times. But if an "incorrect" stimulus is first learned, it then takes an average of 35 repetitions to learn the "corrected" stimulus. So in other words if you are practicing a piece and you are playing an A key instead of B key, it will take you 35 more times to re-learn it with the correct key. Why waste all that time when you can just start off with slow, attentive practice right from the beginning?
(Yep... don't learn it wrong! otherwise it will take much longer to put it right.)
3. Divide your piece into sections. Divide your piece into small sections and practice each section until it is correct. Then combine two small sections to make larger sections. Avoid practicing the entire piece repeatedly until you are sure you are able to play the entire piece without mistakes. Parents will often tell their child, "Play your piece 3 times and then you'll be done practicing." This gives students the wrong impression that practicing is simply running through the entire piece. Students should be working on all of the fine details of the piece in small sections. Playing the piece repeatedly is called "playing" not "practicing."
(When I start a new piece I think of it a bit like building a huge skyscraper, or even a city. If I tried to imagine building a city from scratch I wouldn't know where to start, but I could imagine building one wall, then another, then another ... Hope you know what I mean?)
All these tips are here.