December 23, 2008 at 5:15 pm #86213unknown-userParticipant
I can spend 2hrs a day practicing or more but at what point do you think you get less return. It takes time for the motor memory to sink in. Do find a time limit in which practicing in one session is over kill or diminishing returnsDecember 23, 2008 at 7:23 pm #86214Saul Davis ZlatkovskiParticipant
Two hours is a good minimum. The more, the better, up to five or six hours most days. What sets the motor memory is the number of repetitions of each small group of notes. You must do at least ten repetitions for it to set, preferably ten good ones without errors. Seven is the minimum, but three more cement it. This has been proven with many people.December 23, 2008 at 11:05 pm #86215tony-moroscoMember
For me it varies depending on many factors. But I can just tell when I have reached the point where I am not doing myself any more good that day. Not being a full time professional harpist I work the day and so have neither the stamina nor the time to practice five hours a day or more (except on weekends where I can easily practice for six hours and not realize anywhere near that amount of time has passed). But I have a knack for memorization so I learn pieces quickly.
But some days two hours and I am spent. Others I can go for longer. But after a certain point my playing starts to get worse rather than better and then I know it is time to call it a day.
What I do try to do, however, is if at all possible to practice every day. As they say, it is better to practice one hour a day seven days a week than to play seven hours one day a week. Consistency of practice throughout the week is very important and should not be underestimated.December 24, 2008 at 2:17 am #86216rosalind-beckParticipant
Dennis, may I refer you to “Practiceopedia” by Philip Johnston for some new thinking about practicing.December 24, 2008 at 4:43 am #86217Sid HumphreysSpectator
You know, I would so like to lie and say I practice two hours a day. But I’ll be honest. I have a professional career outside of the harp. I’m doing good to practice 45 minutes a day. There have been a few threads on this site aboutDecember 24, 2008 at 11:22 pm #86218Sid HumphreysSpectator
okay, the “counseling” statement was a bit harsh. Sorry I chose that statement, let’s say I’m jealous of those that are able to commit that much time to something I so love!
SidDecember 25, 2008 at 7:42 pm #86219J PParticipant
I find that when I set goals for my practice schedule I get a lot more accomplished rather than pounding through pieces.December 26, 2008 at 11:17 pm #86220December 27, 2008 at 10:17 pm #86221cynthy-johnsonParticipant
When I was taught and played liturgical organ, from age 6 through college, I played and practiced 5 hours a day; that was before school, after school, and after homework.
When I started to learn to play pedal harp, years ago, I practiced between 5-6 hours per day. However I divided the practice session into blocks of time due to how much my hands could tolerate. The pedal harp was new, and developing blisters and callouses was new, too.December 28, 2008 at 3:32 pm #86222
Let’s see…Thoughts on practicing…
There are 3 things that you have to consider BEFORE you sit down to practice.
1) What is your goal with the piece you are working on? Are you a professional learning this piece for a gig? Are you a student learning this to improve your technique? Is this piece for an exam, audition, competition, or diploma recital? Are you an amateur who just wants to be able to play the piece through for your own amusement? Each of these goal has very different requirements. According to the goal, you may have to memorize this piece, or work on 2 measures for hours trying to get the notes, texture, or musical expression right, or just figure out the notes without too much concern for anything else.
2) Where are you in the process of learning this piece? Just starting? Almost done? Stuck somewhere in the middle? What DON’T you know yet in your journey with this piece?
3) What is your goal for THIS practice session? It could be any one of 100 things. But you need to figure out what you are trying to accomplish(learn) in THIS session. It may be to memorize another line or two of music. Or get that left hand hard spot flowing better, etc. Pick a goal that is doable for the time you have available. When I’m trying to learn a piece, practice can be as short as 3 to 5 minutes(a commercial break in a show I’m watching) where I’ll go test my ability to play a line from memory, to several hours when I’m working on anything from technical problems to musical continuity. The goal you pick for THIS practice session may not be accomplished during this particular session. But you should have the sense at the end of it that you accomplished something.December 28, 2008 at 8:47 pm #86223tony-moroscoMember
Carl, I must say, excellent advice and guidelines. I really like the way you put this.December 28, 2008 at 9:11 pm #86224
Why thank you Tony.December 30, 2008 at 1:19 pm #86225
I had another thought as I was writing the above post and I’d like to hear what others have to say about this.
For 2 of the 3 years that I lived in Paris, I taught English as a foreign language to French businessmen. I noticed that when I was working with them on a particular point of grammar, making an affirmative sentence negative as an example, they would grasp the concept and make steady improvement on the exercises(verbal exercises in a class setting) to a point. Then, if I continued too long, their improvement would start to unravel and they would start making mistake after mistake. So I had to listen very carefully for the point of maximum benefit and then stop and go on to something else. A few other teachers in the school never grasped this and would drive the students even harder when things began to break down. Several times I saw middle aged men running from someone’s classroom in tears.
I’m wondering if this is a problem in practicing. The only time it is a problem for me is when I’m trying to memorize. I’ll pick a line and start memorizing. Once I get that line to the ‘wobbly stage’ I have to stop and leave it alone. If I don’t, what I just memorized turns into alphabet soup, with everything jumbled together. I can’t think of any other part of practicing where this happens.December 30, 2008 at 11:36 pm #86226January 3, 2009 at 11:22 pm #86227Elizabeth Volpé BlighParticipant
This process of stopping practising before you’ve beaten something to death was beautifully put into words by Judy Loman’s late husband, Joe Umbrico. He said, “You have to let the cream rise to the top.” It is really true! The muscles need time to rest, and the mind needs time to process the information.
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