Practice method for difficult passages

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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Daniel Nistico
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2016 8:41 pm
Location: Asheville, NC

Practice method for difficult passages

Post by Daniel Nistico » Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:11 am

Hello,

I recently played a solo recital in Asheville, North Carolina. The program included Bach's Chaconne, so I was obviously practicing it quite a lot beforehand!! I was inspired by Segovia, who said that he would practice a single passage for many weeks, "burnishing it until it sparkles".

I wanted to share one method that I frequently use for practicing difficult passages. It's essentially: slow (1/2 tempo) - gradually faster - ideal tempo - gradually slower - slow (1/2 tempo). Video and link are below.

Many people do practice from slow to fast, but I think the "secret" is going back from fast to slow! I reckon this leaves you able to better ingrain the musical and technical habits you're striving for.

I would love to know what people think and am also curious about what practice methods others use for difficult passages?

Thanks!
Daniel


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Adrian Allan
Posts: 911
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:56 am

Re: Practice method for difficult passages

Post by Adrian Allan » Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:32 am

Daniel Nistico wrote:
Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:11 am
Hello,

I recently played a solo recital in Asheville, North Carolina. The program included Bach's Chaconne, so I was obviously practicing it quite a lot beforehand!! I was inspired by Segovia, who said that he would practice a single passage for many weeks, "burnishing it until it sparkles".

I wanted to share one method that I frequently use for practicing difficult passages. It's essentially: slow (1/2 tempo) - gradually faster - ideal tempo - gradually slower - slow (1/2 tempo). Video and link are below.

Many people do practice from slow to fast, but I think the "secret" is going back from fast to slow! I reckon this leaves you able to better ingrain the musical and technical habits you're striving for.

I would love to know what people think and am also curious about what practice methods others use for difficult passages?

Thanks!
Daniel


Youtube
Thank you. I am also learning this piece, and of course, the exact same passages.

I find that playing the music slowly is essential. On really difficult passages I even practise the RH alternation on open strings.

One piece of excellent advice I was given by my current teacher is to record everything with a video - if you can't play it almost perfectly all the way through in one take, then it's not ready yet. I have since learnt that David Russell has a room in his house in Spain where he videos everything in preparation for a new tour. The aim is to be so confident that when the difficult passages come up, you will approach them with confidence. If the above Chaconne passage is approaching and I'm feeling apprehensive, then I'm not ready to play the piece in public yet.
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CactusWren
Posts: 56
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2016 5:50 pm

Re: Practice method for difficult passages

Post by CactusWren » Thu Aug 03, 2017 1:24 am

Daniel Nistico wrote:
Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:11 am
Hello,

I recently played a solo recital in Asheville, North Carolina. The program included Bach's Chaconne, so I was obviously practicing it quite a lot beforehand!! I was inspired by Segovia, who said that he would practice a single passage for many weeks, "burnishing it until it sparkles".

I wanted to share one method that I frequently use for practicing difficult passages. It's essentially: slow (1/2 tempo) - gradually faster - ideal tempo - gradually slower - slow (1/2 tempo). Video and link are below.

Many people do practice from slow to fast, but I think the "secret" is going back from fast to slow! I reckon this leaves you able to better ingrain the musical and technical habits you're striving for.

I would love to know what people think and am also curious about what practice methods others use for difficult passages?

Thanks!
Daniel


Youtube
Congratulations on the accomplishment of reaching your level! Learning the Chaconne and performing it in public is one of my "bucket list" goals.

I agree, starting fast and then slowing down the motion is a great practice methodology, because it avoids locking in the speed barriers that often occur when you start slow and then speed up. That "frozen" feeling when your body just doesn't want to move faster.

A simple thing I've found works is to reverse the "polarity" of the passage. For example, scale runs often have a dotted eighth-sixteenth kind of pattern (gallop), but practicing them reverse (sixteenth-dotted eighths) helps even them out. Another application of this principle is when you find a systematic error in your playing. For example, I am learning Torre Bermeja, which has many fast triplet passages. I found as I was learning some of the more challenging ones that I would tend to stay too long on the final note of each triplet because of hesitancy in making a position shift to get to the next beat. So I reversed it by allowing myself as long as I wanted on the first two notes, but making the final note as fast as possible. In only a couple of repetitions, I gained more control over the passage.

Luis_Br
Posts: 2199
Joined: Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:50 pm
Location: Brazil

Re: Practice method for difficult passages

Post by Luis_Br » Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:06 am

I always end practice playing slow. This ensures memorization of the good practice.
I would also practice the difficult stuff more, like looping only in the position changes sometimes more before practicing the whole thing again.

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