what do YOU practice?

Posted by: Christina

what do YOU practice? - 02/15/06 05:20 PM

what do YOU practice to get your hands back into shape? i'm going to start teaching again in a couple of weeks, and i haven't played much since my son was born in nov. i'd like to get my hands "warmed up" a little. i'm not just talking scales or hanon, i'd like any techniques on HOW to practice.
Posted by: VioletBeauregarde

Re: what do YOU practice? - 02/15/06 05:38 PM

set goals and chunk it up!
My students all use this system called "smart practice" and it works!
1. Sight play the piece, etude, etc.. When you reach a hard part STOP! Circle the measure or item in the measure that is tricky.
2. Go back to the beginning of the piece. Isolate all the hard spots. Play the measures 5 times each alone. Then work back 1 measure and play through to the end of the hard measure. Do this 5 times. Then add the measure after it. Finally, do the entire section through the first hard place. Do this for each hard spot.
3. After this is "ironed out and spit shined" as it were, go back to the top and pick a goal that you want to do better with the piece- artistic elements, technique, timing, etc... As you work on the piece, make the goal your focus so that your practice has purpose, otherwise you're just hitting a bunch of notes with no goal in mind for them. If you have several goals, work them through one at a time until the piece is accomplished and as perfect as you can make it.

I use this method myself. It works wonders and really gets you to focus well. When I taught it to students a year ago it did wonders for them once they caught on. \:\) Hope this helps.
Posted by: Christina

Re: what do YOU practice? - 02/15/06 06:12 PM

i guess i should've made it more clear, i'm looking for strength building techniques for hands that are just a bit rusty.
Posted by: All Weather Musician

Re: what do YOU practice? - 02/15/06 06:27 PM


I don;t think I've ever had the chance to get too rusty, but when I get back from a vacation or business trip that does not involve playing for a short while, I generally go back to my roots and works up slowly. Like Clemnti Sonatinas... Music for Millions (you could read thru the whole darn book in less than a day!)

I am currently working on a book about my work in improvisation which is fairly extensive. There should be quite a few helpful things in there, but it is at least a year from publication. In the mean time... \:\) you might also pick a tune you like (Mozart liked Twinkle Little Star...) and create your own set of variations that target your WEAKNESSES! You know what you can and cannot do after a long break. Start doing the stuff you CAN'T do well and get the fingers (and the brain!) working. It should all come back to you in short order as long as you have no physical limitations.

Good luck.
Posted by: Natalia Huang

Re: what do YOU practice? - 02/16/06 03:57 AM

I've always liked etudes. Chopin, Moszkowski, or Liszt can all work well. I feel like I am working musically and technically when doing those etudes. Since the etudes usually have quite a few 16th note runs, I use an old "practice" method from one of my college profs back then. The steps are as follows:

1)Accent and stop for a second on the first sixteenth note (assuming the notes are in groups of 4).

2)Then repeat the process for the second 16th, the third, etc. You feel your fingers strengthened afterwards.

Another technique you can try is, instead of sitting on your piano bench, put the bench away and sit on a couple of phone books. Believe me, you feel the burn/pain very quickly, but it work wonders. Hope that helps!
Posted by: heidi r.

Re: what do YOU practice? - 02/16/06 04:24 AM

My favorites to practice are Bach's Anna Magadelena Notebook, Little Preludes, and Inventions, Chopin Nocturnes, several pieces from Music by the Masters, and I'm definitely with AWM regarding Sonatinas - LOVE them, all kinds.

As far as simply warming up out-of-practice hands, I actually have some fun with boring old Hanon by using the first exercise alone and taking it through every key, but for fun I use different rhythms. Years ago my own teacher gave me the Japanese edition of Hanon which gives 22 different rhythms at the beginning of the book which can be applied to all of the exercises. I've made my own laminated copies of these rhythms for each of my students and they really have fun with Hanon when we vary it up rhythmically. Great practice for independent fingers and interval reading.

Congratulations on your little guy!
Posted by: Christina

Re: what do YOU practice? - 02/19/06 02:41 AM

originally posted by Natalia:
instead of sitting on your piano bench, put the bench away and sit on a couple of phone books.
do you mean on the floor?

my teacher in university used to get me to do that, also, but it was for a different reason.

any other ideas?
Posted by: Christina

Re: what do YOU practice? - 02/19/06 06:32 PM



i know this isn't as exciting as some other posts, but i need help! i haven't taken lessons in so many years and right now my brain is so focussed on diapers etc., i can't remember anything!!!HEEEEELLLLLPPPPP!!!!
Posted by: Dragonfly

Re: what do YOU practice? - 02/20/06 03:02 AM

In order to help it may be good to know what grade you stopped at. Then we could work back from there.
Posted by: Christina

Re: what do YOU practice? - 02/20/06 04:05 AM

i've been working on my ARCT. my teacher at university wanted me to go into international competition. but instead i got married and had kids!
Posted by: Christina

Re: what do YOU practice? - 02/20/06 08:45 AM

no, i like the ideas so far, i was just wanting as many ideas as possible. most of my students are beginners, so it's been ages since i've had to deal with SERIOUS strengthening issues.

there's no way i can schedule lessons with a teacher at the moment. with a new baby, i can't guarantee enough regular practice time for myself.

and it's not like i haven't practiced in years, just a few months. but when i have played recently, my hands feel pretty weak and i can only practice short times.
Posted by: shannonspiano

Re: what do YOU practice? - 02/21/06 03:48 AM

Christina I went back to playing through my students' music.. mostly the stuff where a majority of my students' left off with. Added scales and a few songs for church and that seemed to help.

I assume your little one is quite chubby now.. My Andrew didn't have time to get chubby he's much too busy. \:\)
Posted by: Susan

Re: what do YOU practice? - 02/22/06 02:50 AM

A friend of mine went back to teaching piano after about a 12 year break of being an elementary music teacher in public school. She had been playing the piano, of course, but not seriously. What she did was go through all the Hanon exercises every day. Then she did Czerny. Finally she went to Mozart sonatas. I don't know if this is helpful or not, but it really helped her.
What I did when I wanted to get back into serious music has already been suggested. I went to the best advanced teacher in town and took lessons for several years and practiced 3 hours a day. That helped quite a lot.