getting a piece up to speed

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

  • Participant
    bob-miller on #164652

    How do you get a piece, especially a long one, up to speed once you have learned all the notes and the piece is memorized? Do you break the piece up into little sections and work on them daily increasing the metronome little by little or do you have an alternate method? Certain sections are always easier and it seems unnecessary to play them daily, but then how often? And how often do you run through the whole piece at a comfortable speed?

    Kathleen Clark on #164653

    What I do, and have done with a ten-page piece like Hasselmans’ “La Source” for example, is to find a metronome speed I can play the most difficult section with and then play the whole piece at that speed. I always practice the difficult sections by themselves more than the others. As your speed for that difficult section increases then your whole piece speeds up too.

    If it is a piece like “La Source” I always run through the whole thing at least once a day. I use it as my “warm up” piece because I always want to have it ready to play for people. I want to be able to sit down and play it “cold” with as little warmup as possible for situations like guests.

    andy-b on #164654

    That makes a lot of sense, Kathleen, I’m definitely going to try your approach on

    sherry-lenox on #164655

    Kathleen’s method demonstrates the real reason for using a metronome. Also, Kathleen, your description was both interesting and enlightening. Well done!

    barbara-brundage on #164656

    To add to what Kathleen says, it’s import not to pick a comfortable speed always. You also need sometimes to pick a speed that is *slower* than you can comfortably play it. Then you can’t rely on muscle memory to scoot you over the parts you don’t really know.

    barbara-brundage on #164657


    (I wish we could edit here)

    Kathleen Clark on #164658

    What Barbara says is important. Comfortable is not the same as slow. Alfredo Ortiz uses the word “slowerly” meaning slower than comfortable, slow enough to block place and squeeze the chord placements into muscle memory.

    What I’ve found over time is that if I am having trouble with a piece this is usually the cure. In addtion to block placement, one of my problems is even tone. My teacher is a real stickler for this. I think I’m playing something beautifully and then he points out that my third finger is fading away and not playing an even tone with the rest of my fingers. Happens a lot on John Thomas’ “Minstrel’s Adieu” for me. I’ve had that memorized for awhile now but am still working on getting an even tone on all my fingers. Lots of metronoming and block placing “slowerly” on that one for me still. My teacher is picky, but, hey, that’s what I pay him the big bucks for! He’s worth every penny!

    Love how Barbara uses the word “scoot.” Sounds like something I would do…I’m so baaad…Time to scoot, y’all,….heh, heh

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