Top Tips

Top Tips: Bar by Bar Practice

I would like to share a very helpful tip for when you need to begin somewhere other than the start of a section or phrase during practice.  You’ve identified the need for greater security, and are practising bar by bar. The rule is to play from the first note of a bar and stop on the first note of the next bar, resisting the temptation to carry on past this point. This is great for control, and also for memory work. It does take a fair amount of discipline and concentration though. Having played the bar, we stop, remove our hands from the keyboard and reflect on our results  Were the notes all correct? Did I play rhythmically, with flow, dynamics, organisation and shaping? Did it feel and sound good? If not, you’ll need to repeat the bar until your inner quality control inspector gives it the green light before moving on to the next bar. But let’s say you get to a bar that starts with a tied note – how do you accommodate that? If you leave that note out you create a problem, because you are not accounting for the finger whose job it is to be resting in that particular key at the precise moment you play the other notes. Playing the note where the tie comes from is certainly an option, but my preference is to put the key down silently ahead of time so the finger is in its place the moment we start. In the third of this example from the D minor Fugue from Bach’s WTC (Book 1), put down the Bb with your RH 5th finger silently (a useful skill in itself) and you’ll be ready to […]

Top Tips #1: Start Anywhere!

The first of an occasional series of tips – these are quick and easy to read, and I hope they will be useful in your practice. Top Tips #1: Start Anywhere! When you have thoroughly learned a piece and you’re getting it ready for a performance or an exam, it’s a great idea to be easily able to start from anywhere in the piece. Left to your own devices you would probably start in a comfortable place, such as the beginning of a phrase or section. That’s fine, but for a challenge use a random number generator to decide for you where to start. 1. Figure out the number of bars in your piece – let’s say it’s 87 bars long 2. In the Min field, enter 1. In the Max field, enter 87 3. Press the Generate button 4. Play from the bar that comes up – not the bar before or after for convenience but the bar specified, even if it is in the middle of a phrase There are many ways to do this – make a decision beforehand how far you’re going to play on from the bar you started at. It could be 1 bar, or 4 bars – whatever! ***   ***   *** Practising the Piano eBook Series Part 4 I am delighted to announce that Part 4 of my eBook Series is now available. You can purchase Practising the Piano Part 4 (priced at £9.99) directly from my website. It is also available on Amazon Kindle and for pre-order on the Apple iBookstore (click here for the full series catalogue which contains links to the individual volumes on all platforms). The full series (Parts 1 to 4) can now be purchased for £35.99 (a […]

By |October 21st, 2015|Top Tips|2 Comments

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