Working on a new piece - what do you do?

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Working on a new piece - what do you do?

Post by LBrandt » Mon Jul 03, 2017 2:32 pm

When you decide to work on a new piece, one that you've never seen before, do you typically work on it for days or even weeks at a time, trying to get it just right, and as a result, not work on other pieces in the meantime? Or do you try to work on several pieces at the same time?

I find that if I start on a new piece, I need to keep working on it, at the expense of other pieces that I worked on in the past.

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Re: Working on a new piece - what do you do?

Post by georgemarousi » Mon Jul 03, 2017 2:41 pm

I try to dedicate 1-2 days of the week for the old repertoire.

Despite of that, sometimes an old piece may be forgotten / or quite forgotten at times ( especially when at a new piece ) . I have to start taking decisions to leave some pieces behind as 15 - 20 pieces have quite a weight ( for me ) to maintain..
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Re: Working on a new piece - what do you do?

Post by zupfgeiger » Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:01 pm

If I am working on a new piece that I really like a lot, I neglect most other pieces and dedicate almost the whole practicing session to that piece. After being a bit more familiar with a new piece, which usually takes some days, I get back to the normal practicing routine, repetition of familiar pieces included.
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Re: Working on a new piece - what do you do?

Post by Rick Beauregard » Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:13 pm

I work on a couple new pieces at a time and spend about 10 minutes at a time on sections of each, alternating back and forth. They say this "interleaved" practice helps retention and memory recovery. And yes I also try to keep my "gold set list" fresh by regular practice at least weekly.
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Re: Working on a new piece - what do you do?

Post by StevSmar » Mon Jul 03, 2017 4:10 pm

I have a little book by Ricardo Iznaola called "On Practising" which I found most helpful for describing the different way of learning a piece.

Once I'm to the stage of memorizing a piece, I find I need to make sure I only spend about 5-10 minutes at a time.

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Re: Working on a new piece - what do you do?

Post by Gwynedd » Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:05 am

Great question. Lately, the teacher has been throwing more new stuff at me; I usually average only one new piece a month (I've been playing less than a year, mind you.)

I do strategize how to get to the new piece and not lose the old ones.

So I warm up sometimes on a new-old piece (my last "finished piece was a Savio lullaby, so I now start with it to warm up) and then puzzle through the new work. First I see if I can sight read it. I mark any trouble spots or where the notation hasn't said anything about string position when it's obvious I would need Spider-Man hands to play in first position. I mark the spot where I can't play it at all. Then I break the thing down and play measure by measure or if it's easier, section by section, often w metronome. Then I have to mark in dynamics because instructor glares if I play anything with zero musicality even three minutes after my first lesson. After the first run through, I do any exercises we've cooked up for the new piece before playing it.

As the weeks go on, I put that piece first in practice so I can memorize it (I memorize all my stuff because I hate using bifocals and a music stand, the joys of aging) and because it makes it easier for me to concentrate on the musicality. I make notes where I'm goofing up, after lessons and then record on my phone to hear any issues and progress.

On other practice sessions, I'll play through my entire "repertoire" such as it is (about a dozen pieces, maybe at this point) and every other practice, I'll start with whatever scale I'm trying to get proficient on and play that first or only, so I don't neglect it for the fun stuff.

I find it helps to have intentional practice, where you set a goal (this measure, that fingering, better dynamics, etc) and try to accomplish one thing really well.

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Re: Working on a new piece - what do you do?

Post by bear » Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:27 pm

I learned to play by ear, so I listen to it a hundred times and then sit down with the score and just play. I'll usually get comfortable with the melody first and then add the baseline.
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Re: Working on a new piece - what do you do?

Post by Contreras » Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:57 pm

I'm with bear on this - I listen a lot, and when I've got the music in my head I sit down with the dots and play it.
Of course, what this means is I don't tackle anything I haven't heard, but that's a no-brainer ... why would I play anything I don't like (and how would I know if I like it or not?
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Re: Working on a new piece - what do you do?

Post by rob8624 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:18 pm

I normally work on several pieces at a time, but, one of them will be the main focus, usually the most technically challenging. I then surround this by playing (usually sight reading) lots of easier pieces/studies/exercises just to keep the fun aspect of playing. But, I will once a week, dedicate several hours to the main piece and really concentrate on it.

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Re: Working on a new piece - what do you do?

Post by andreas777 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:47 pm

If the new piece is quite difficult, then I spend about 50% of my time on the new piece and 50% on my old repertoire. The better I become with the new piece (by sight reading) the less %-time I spend. When I decide to memorize the piece in one day later on, then I spend almost 100% on the first and 50%-70% on the following 2-3 days. For easy pieces the %-numbers are much lower.
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Re: Working on a new piece - what do you do?

Post by JayGuitar » Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:35 am

When working on a new piece I find that I can more effectively learn it by rationing the amount of time I spend on it. Obviously more challenging pieces require more time overall but after a certain point the return in my time invested decreases.

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Re: Working on a new piece - what do you do?

Post by tubeman » Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:50 am

I usually focus on the new piece for a few days until I have a good feel for it, then I add my known pieces back in. Probably divide practice time 50/50 between them.
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Re: Working on a new piece - what do you do?

Post by johnwmclean » Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:47 am

I try and keep pieces well within my ability, with a few long term goals chucked in there. I find this process enables a quick turnaround without getting bored. Rule of thumb, if it's not under my fingers within a few weeks it goes into the too hard basket, if I really love the piece it's a long term goal, I'll study elements, but I'll move on for something else. Most pieces don't end up practiced for concert level, I'm more for quantity than quality... but some are keepers and I'll polish those.

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Re: Working on a new piece - what do you do?

Post by dory » Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:08 am

I read through a piece a few times and then start listening on youtube to get a sense of the "feel of the piece." I do like to hear someone who knows the piece well put it all together but for some reason I don't like to do this until I have started learning it myself. Someone else's playing makes more sense to me if I have read through the piece first.

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Re: Working on a new piece - what do you do?

Post by oski79 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:14 am

It's really easy to neglect your repertoire when you get hooked on a new piece. I've always regretted that, so I make a concerted effort to keep my pieces fresh. Even playing through them a few times a week will keep them in your fingers.
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