How many new pieces at once

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Glenn
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Re: How many new pieces at once

Post by Glenn » Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:05 am

I like to identify 1 piece to put in the memory bank. Once a piece is memorized I practice it so that it is technically and musically consistent. Once I realize that all the pieces I am "learning" are all memorized, I find another piece to put in the memory bank.

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Contreras
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Re: How many new pieces at once

Post by Contreras » Thu Nov 27, 2014 1:59 am

I generally have 3 or 4 'new' pieces on the go, and I tend to memorize early, because then I don't have to fixate on the sheet, and I can focus on my hands, experiment with fingering and positioning ... once it's in memory I can play it when I want, polish sections and so on. Not everything gets played every day, some do depending on what I'm fixated on, on the day.
Some pieces that I have been playing from memory for many years are still not totally polished ... I wonder are they ever? Particularly since getting the luthier-built guitar, it's a whole new ball-game ... obviously everything sounds better ... but I'm drifting off-topic
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ronjazz
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Re: How many new pieces at once

Post by ronjazz » Sun Nov 30, 2014 3:10 am

Alright, alright, already. Here's the thing: if you want to play the guitar, you have to play for people. This fact means that you must think about a program that you would like that people would also like. Learn that program, 30 minutes, and go play at a senior center or a library. Professionals learn what they need to make money giving pleasure with, and everybody needs a goal in order to finish anything, really. So, if you're interested in getting good, set up a concert, then watch how your practice becomes structured and focused.

Or don't
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alex78

Re: How many new pieces at once

Post by alex78 » Sun Nov 30, 2014 3:21 pm

I am only learning 1-2 new pieces at once, while playing 5-6 in total. I used to play 8 or 9 but I noticed I was rushing through some of them because I was only playing them because I thought I had to. Reducing the number of pieces makes me more relaxed regarding my playing in general. But I think it is very subjective...

how69ss

Re: How many new pieces at once

Post by how69ss » Sun Nov 30, 2014 5:06 pm

I usually would have a 15 minute warmup that covered the basics, then one technical exercise devoted to a weak area, and then work on a new piece, and then play several pieces I have down. If I have, say, 10 pieces I like and really want to keep up, I would maybe do 2 each day, and just rotate them. I was typically playing for 1 hour a day.

I have to say, though, that the comment about performing is interesting, and I can see how that would impact one's practice. I tend to think about the pieces that I would like to play IF I were to perform. I go back and forth between, "these are the ones I love and want to be able to play" and these are the ones in my Noad book that I should learn (now that I am playing again, I just started with the Noad book and do maybe two pages a day--starting slow). One thing is that by following the book, you will be ready for the later, more challenging pieces, and it can be very frustrating to try to play/learn something that's too far beyond your present skill.

I consider myself a very early intermediate player. I played for two years off and on, then had to take three years off, and now have been back at it for a little over a month. One big thing I see differently now is just listening to every note, the quality of sound. Before when I was playing, I always wanted to just get through the piece and play the whole thing. My friend who is classically trained and is a professional musician would always say to me, even if I was just playing a C scale, "Make it musical!" I was like, "I'm trying!" He also said (or quoted someone who said) those who love CG are people who love the sound of a single note. I think that's true, and the reason why I have never gotten anywhere on electric guitar!

And what's the rush with learning a piece anyway? There will just be one more after that.

Just a few thoughts.

scott

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bear
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Re: How many new pieces at once

Post by bear » Sun Nov 30, 2014 6:02 pm

ronjazz wrote:Alright, alright, already. Here's the thing: if you want to play the guitar, you have to play for people. This fact means that you must think about a program that you would like that people would also like. Learn that program, 30 minutes, and go play at a senior center or a library. Professionals learn what they need to make money giving pleasure with, and everybody needs a goal in order to finish anything, really. So, if you're interested in getting good, set up a concert, then watch how your practice becomes structured and focused.

Or don't
I don't think you have to play for people. I do play for my wife (resisting the punch line), but I played for 25 years before I met her. I never played for anyone before her.
I agree with your premise about playing for an audience. Give them what they want and leave them wanting more.

The other day I counted the number of pieces that I regularly play during the week, my practice list. I'm up to 70. It's a mix of classical, opera, swing, jazz, blues and ballads. I just got a new book of jazz standards some are new arrangements of pieces that I already play and others are new. There are about a dozen that I'm "trying out".
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Re: How many new pieces at once

Post by alex78 » Wed Dec 03, 2014 5:42 pm

I don't really like to play for people. That was not the reason why I started playing. But I can imagine having a goal like giving a small concert somewhere boosts your motivation. However I don't think I will ever be good enough. Concert performance is for pros, in my opinion.

how69ss

Re: How many new pieces at once

Post by how69ss » Thu Dec 04, 2014 2:03 am

Regarding playing for an audience, I played for about 30 of my high school students today in order to demonstrate a few things relating to the senior project/presentations they have to do over the next two weeks. It was a good experience. I've never played for an audience before. Just my brother, my wife, son, dad, etc. Though I spend 6 or more hours a day in front of an audience or working around my room and students, it's always interesting to be in an uncomfortable position. We teachers spend most of our time making students feel uncomfortable; that's a lot of what education is--pushing past your current boundaries. Anyway, it was fun. And after reading some of the remarks above, I plan to go to the coffee shop in June this next summer and play guitar with some folks that play every Saturday afternoon there during the summer. It really gets me thinking about the quality of what I am playing, and I like that.(None of them play CG--they're mostly steeped in "ol timey music, fact they're silly with it," to quote Ulysses Everett McGill.

TheJazzer

Re: How many new pieces at once

Post by TheJazzer » Fri Dec 26, 2014 12:12 pm

Why memorize? I think there are a lot of good reasons for memorizing over sight reading. I don't think anyone with serious aspirations to perform should sight read a performance.

Memorizing forces you to know the music better and to hear it with your inner and outer ears rather than just see it with your eyes.

Memorizing cuts out work that the brain has to do, read and interpret visual material and process it into movements and sounds giving us less brain space to work on the musicality.

Not reading the music means we can present ourselves to the audience musically with the right frame of mind and body language and not be staring at a piece of paper.

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TomPage
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Re: How many new pieces at once

Post by TomPage » Fri Dec 26, 2014 3:43 pm

On advice of Scott Kritzer, I organize my pieces into 4 practice bins: New Work, Detailing, Maintenance, and Performance. I only keep one piece at a time in New Work (which I think is my answer to the original question) and the job there is mainly memorizing, but also making interpretation and therefore fingering decisions. When a piece graduates from New Work I can start another, but often I figure my plate is full with the other bins and so this bin may be empty for a while. The Detailing bin includes with passages of pieces which need concentrated technical work; these pieces are typically in one of the other bins and only passages from them in Detail. Maintenance is the list of repertoire that I wish to keep in my fingers (these pieces get visited from once every two days to once a week). Performance is the set of pieces that I am trying to bring to my highest level for a specific performance or series of performances and they get scheduled very day or every other day. As a performance opportunity gets closer, I move some pieces from the Maintenance to Performance bin, which causes the to get more attention and performance skills practice. I actually have a 5th bin which is future works which I might sight read through occasionally, and sometimes a 6th bin which is pieces I used to play which I am thinking of getting back into Maintenance status. Beyond the one piece in "New Work", how many you have in the other bins depends on how much time you have/want to practice and how long you have been playing.

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Mark Farber
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Re: How many new pieces at once

Post by Mark Farber » Thu Feb 12, 2015 5:20 pm

My problem with memorizing is that I tend to memorize hand positions and sequences, not notes. If someone said to me, "start playing at the C" I would have no idea what they meant. I know what a C is, but I am not conscious of the notes I play when I memorize music. I know that some people try to "sing" the notes in their head as they play, but I find this distracting.

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Re: How many new pieces at once

Post by Write_Rich » Fri Feb 13, 2015 7:57 pm

TomPage wrote:On advice of Scott Kritzer, I organize my pieces into 4 practice bins: New Work, Detailing, Maintenance, and Performance.
This is similar to what I do. I have a fairly large binder which I have most my music organized in sections:

New Work - I keep in the front as I tend to play from the front of my binder more - one piece usually although I may have two if one is nearing completion.

Performance - Pieces I will be performing with. Total varies. For polishing a piece or making sure I haven't unintentionally changed anything in a memorized piece. On performance day I will make copies, organize, tape, as needed.

Maintenance - The bulk of my binder. Pieces I know and play fairly well but haven't memorized yet: everything from simple etudes on up to full performance works. Not sure how many I have here - maybe about 50ish pieces.

Holding - Back of my binder where I lay to rest music I have memorized or music I plan on learning is waiting to be born.

I also have a separate smaller binder with various exercises, scales (IE Segovia, Giuliani 120 etc etc) which I dedicate a practice session to a few times a month.

Thus is the circle of music in my world.


Edit: Memorizing to me is almost the final part of learning a piece for me. After I memorize a piece I feel like I can start making it my own free of having to look at or concentrate on a score. With that said I still refer back to the music on pieces I have memorized. More then a few times I have unintentionally changed something - referring back to the score helps here.
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2handband
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Re: How many new pieces at once

Post by 2handband » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:19 am

I admit I just skimmed the thread so maybe somebody has already said this, but:

The answer is exactly one. And you don't read through the whole thing; you take it one phrase at a time until you master that phrase. Yes, I'm serious. You don't play phrase 2 until phrase one sounds flawless, at tempo, all the time. This may sound insane but it can yield spectacular results. I've been known to practice a 2 measure lick for four hours at a stretch, and by doing so I have learned music that was far beyond my level very quickly indeed.

I did notice one person talking about not bothering to memorize. You're not seriously going onstage with a music stand between you and the audience... are you?

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Re: How many new pieces at once

Post by 2handband » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:43 am

mfarber wrote:My problem with memorizing is that I tend to memorize hand positions and sequences, not notes. If someone said to me, "start playing at the C" I would have no idea what they meant. I know what a C is, but I am not conscious of the notes I play when I memorize music. I know that some people try to "sing" the notes in their head as they play, but I find this distracting.
You haven't learned a piece of music until you have analyzed it both harmonically and melodically. Eventually it becomes automatic.

Steve Langham
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Re: How many new pieces at once

Post by Steve Langham » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:51 am

2handband wrote:I admit I just skimmed the thread so maybe somebody has already said this, but:

The answer is exactly one. And you don't read through the whole thing; you take it one phrase at a time until you master that phrase. Yes, I'm serious. You don't play phrase 2 until phrase one sounds flawless, at tempo, all the time. This may sound insane but it can yield spectacular results. I've been known to practice a 2 measure lick for four hours at a stretch, and by doing so I have learned music that was far beyond my level very quickly indeed.

I did notice one person talking about not bothering to memorize. You're not seriously going onstage with a music stand between you and the audience... are you?
Interesting, I can see how this would work but I would say it takes a fair bit of discipline because you are holding off the gratification of being able to (roughly) play the entire section/piece by just going very slowly mastering one phrase at a time. I'm not sure I could do this but I might give it a go.
So I suppose what you are saying is it will take you longer to play through the entire piece but when you do it's pretty much completed?

And when you've done a phrase and you move onto the next, do you temporarily ignore the previous mastered phrase or do you incorporate that?

And how and when do you tie these individually learnt phrases together?

When you say a 'phrase', what exactly do you mean? Might this be a single bar or a few bars, I assume it would be a reasonable self-contained snippet of the piece that musically makes sense?
(sorry for all the questions!)

Thanks

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