Helpful Practice Tips 

Play Along Piano Tutorial: Arabesque by Burgmuller

November 28, 2013
Lately I have had a fair few students learning the Arabesque by Burgmuller. This is a fantastic piece full of drive and engery, and makes for a very impressive performance piece! I often find however, that students want to play this song at the finished speed as soon as they start learning it! For this reason, I have made a play along piano tutorial, which focuses on developing finger control, in order to develop the technique required to play the piece at a faster, finished speed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMjWEONisI0

By starting at a slow speed, our fingers develop the control required to play at a faster speed. Doing slow practice is a technique which is beneficial when learning ANY song! It also takes a lot of self control to sit at the piano and play at a slow speed!

When using this video, ensure you have a nice, rounded hand position with curved fingers. Also aim for a nice light touch - this is another aspect that slow practice will help you with.

If you have a metronome at home, try playing the Arabesque on a range of different speeds. if not, then just play along wit the four different speeds in the tutorial video.

If you keep practicing with the metronome and develop great finger control, it will sound something like this!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfxcURR4KQU

Happy practicing everyone, and let me know if this video was of help to you!
 

Different Types of Practice

November 11, 2013
Different Types of Practice
November is always a busy time of year for teachers who are putting students through AMEB exams. However it shouldn't be the ONLY busy time of year! Preparation for a music exam, whether it be for piano or any other instrument, isn't something which can be quickly crammed into the few weeks before an exam. It takes consistent practice over the course of the year to be prepared come exam day.

There are two types of practice: massed practice (essentially cramming, involving a lot of practice in a short amount of time) and distributed practice (practice which is spaced out over longer periods of time). While distributed practice over time is most beneficial when learning an instrument and preparing for a music exam, massed practice does also play an important role in the learning process.

Distributed practice over time results in more effective learning for musicians. It also allows for the development of correct techniques, and a feeling of fluency and confidence with the piece which only time can bring. Distributed practice should be used when arranging practice schedules throughout the year. Massed practice however, should be used within each and every practice session. This type of practice is very effective for short, simple, discrete tasks. By identifying personal problem areas in a piece of music, massed practice can be used to improve upon these sections. For example, a string player may be having difficulty with an interval requiring a shift up the finger board. Within a practice session, the student should focus on playing that single interval over and over again. Similarly, a pianist can improve a quick finger passage by repeating it many times within a practice session. In this way, massed practice can be very beneficial to improving a student's technique and perfecting a piece of music.

I recommend that student's (along with their parents) develop a practice schedule for each week which can be followed throughout the year e.g. half an hour of practice before dinner, and theory before leaving for school in the morning.

Combining the principles of both massed and distributed practice in the right way will result in effective learning and a very polished performance. I hope this helps you in your preparation for the November exams, as well as all future exams!

Best of luck!

 

Some Wise Words From Mozart...

November 6, 2013
Some Wise Words From Mozart...
This quote by Mozart is wonderful.
I think we often focus upon the notes on a page of music and adjusting their duration, volume and tone to achieve a desired sound. Rests however, can be easily missed along the way. It is important to always incorporate all the indicated rests in a piece of music, for this is what allows the music to breathe! 

It is not only what me make of the notes which shape the music, but also what we make of the silence. The sound of silence can be anything from mysterious, to gloomy, to surprising. When you come across silence and rests in your music, think about their function and purpose. Why did the composer put a rest in that spot, rather than sustaining the notes beforehand? Is it to lighten the texture of the music? Is it to create drama? If you can understand the placement of silence in a piece of music as well as the story that the notes tell, you will have developed a great interpretation of the piece. 

 

Quote of the Day!

November 6, 2013
'Absolute perfection isn't necessarily a criterion - even if absolute perfection does exist, giving something of oneself is a form of artistic quest. It is my mission to bring joy to listeners'

A quote from the amazing pianist Gyorgy Cziffra. Something to always keep in mind when performing and practicing.
Bringing joy to the listeners and enjoying what you play should always be the primary goal. If you feel the music and enjoy the music, this will shine through in your performance. 


 

Does Practice Really Make Perfect?

November 1, 2013
I'm sure you are all very familiar with the phrase "practice makes perfect".
I however, prefer a little twist on saying, as was once told to me by my very own piano teacher:


Practice makes permanent

The more you practice something, whether it be piano, violin or even football, the better you will become at it. However, if you are practicing mistakes, then you will become very good at those mistakes! The more you practice these mistakes, the harder it will be to correct them! So my advice for you, is to check that you are always playing the correct notes and using the correct fingers when practicing at home. If you do make a mistake, always be sure to go back and correct yourself!

Happy practicing!
Anastasia
 

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