PRACTICE TIPS #29: Starting to Work on a New Piece, part 1
Sep 04, 2000 21:21 PDT
PRACTICE TIPS is an occasional email newsletter with practical
piano practice tips and ideas, by Brent Hugh
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PRACTICE TIPS #29: Starting to Work on a New Piece, part 1
[This is the first issue of Practice Tips from its
new home (Practifirstname.lastname@example.org). You'll see a few
immediate differences--for the lowdown, see the Note at
the end of this message.]
Since it is the start of a new school year for us, most of my students are
starting to work on new pieces.
What should pianists do, who are just starting a new piece? How should
they spend their time in the first hours and days they are working on a new
musical work? Here are some ideas:
1. WHOLE WORK: Sight read through the entire work a few times to get an
overall view of the piece and what it's about. But DON'T waste all your
time with a new piece playing it through over and over and over--the "Play
Myself A Slow, Bad Concert" approach to practicing.
2. LARGE/MEDIUM SECTIONS: Notice the natural sections within the work--from
large-scale sections (exposition, development, ABA or AB structure) down to
phrases. This is the first step in turning the piece from a random
collection of notes into meaningful music.
3. SMALL "PRACTICE SECTIONS": Divide your piece into small "Practice
Sections". Clearly mark these Practice Sections in your music with a
pencil. Spend most of your time in the early days and weeks of learning a
new piece working on one Practice Section using this simple scheme:
A. Choose a Practice Section
B. Repeat it over and over until it is perfected
C. Concentrate your effort on this one section. Do not
allow yourself to lazily play on to other sections, which
will cause you to loose focus on your current Practice
Section and the many problems you have to solve there.
D. As soon as the current Practice Section has been perfected,
move on to another Practice Section, and perfect it.
Next time: More on starting a new piece.
P.S. Various list mumbo-jumbo follows. Feel free to ignore.
A Fair Warning: How Often Does Practice Tips Come?
During our school year (September-May), Practice Tips has kept a
more-or-less regular schedule: one message every week or two. During the
summer, when I travel a lot and generally have an irregular schedule,
Practice Tips, too, has been rather irregular.
But now that our school year has started again, I am planning a regular
schedule of one issue every week. However--and this is a change--I am
planning to send TWO tips per week, on occasion. The second tip will
usually be an expansion of the first tip of that week. Sometimes it might
be a little quiz to see if you remember the previous tip. This will not
happen every week--only when it seems like a good idea.
I *did* say Practice Tips was an "occasional" newsletter, didn't I? You
have been warned . . .
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A Note About Practice Tips' New Home at Topica.Com
You'll see some immediate differences in Practice Tips now that it has been
moved to Topica.Com. The main one is
* Yes, there are ads. There will probably be small ones (3 lines)
at the top and bottom of every message, and larger ones (5-8 lines)
at the top OR bottom (not both) of some messages.
The ads are annoying (my advice: don't look at them). But there are some
important advantages to the move:
* The listserv is more capable of handling the large list
that Practice Tips is becoming, with less intervention
on my part. The larger the list becomes, the happier
they are; it won't strain their resources.
* The location is stable; the list should never need to be
* The Topica.Com listserv has some nice features, many of which
you won't notice (but I will). One feature you *will* notice,
* Immediate, up-to-date archiving of old issues of Practice Tips
(as soon as I figure out how to configure it . . . ).
In the interest of full disclosure: I don't get to choose the ads that
appear in Practice Tips, but I *do* get a small cut of the advertising
revenue. According to my calculations, this will be about enough to buy
myself a couple of candy bars every month (i.e., the advertising money
isn't the primary reason for the move, the reasons outlined above are--but
if I get a couple of candy bars every month, I won't complain.)
If the ads are too annoying, or there are other problems with Topica.Com, I
may consider moving the list to a different listserv. *However*, there is
no way I can make any kind of a change until the end of the year. So if
you find the format/ads annoying, *please* let me know, and understand that
I *will* take this into consideration, but also understand that I won't
under any circumstances make a change until January 2001.
I am planning to make Practice Tips better than ever in its new
location. I hope you will continue to enjoy and find it filled with
PRACTICE TIPS is by pianist, teacher, composer, and internet nerd
Brent Hugh. Brent knows about practicing mostly because he *does*
it, and in fact is toddling off to do some of it just about now . . .
Please remember that this tip is but a small spot near the tip of the
elephant's trunk--it's not even close to the whole elephant that is
"how everyone in the whole world should practice the piano".
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