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HOW TO PRACTICE

Chickers

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How well should a player be able to play a piece on the accordion, and how much practice should I put in on a particular piece,
before moving on ?
I have been working with an accordion teacher that, in my opinion, has some peculiar instruction methods.
I am a intermediate beginner accordion player. For the most part, "self taught".
Quite often when learning a new piece, and after a week, or two of studying, and practicing the new piece, I can usually get by
playing the piece with several mistakes, and having to make corrections along the way.
I can play the piece so it may become recognizable, but no where near to the level that I that I would consider my playing
it as perfect, or even near perfect. I would not venture to play the piece for friends, let alone an audience.
My teacher on the other hand says that is good enough, and moves me on to the next piece to learn. In his terms, these are just
basic pieces that I am now learning, and they are only stepping stones, and I would most likely never go back to playing them,
especially in this basic arrangement.
I would appreciate some of your thoughts along these lines.
Should I strive for playing each piece well, or do an my teacher suggests, and move on before really learning the previous piece ??
Thanks for your comments;
CHICKERS
 

embers

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When I started taking accordion lessons, my first teacher would have me sometimes move on to another piece before I mastered it, at least "mastering it" in my thinking. I think it was to get over a "hump" of learning....your teacher stated "stepping stones." These steps were both for me, and the teacher, in order to see how I progressed. Sometimes with a little harder piece, e.g. one that had RH trills in it, I would be on that a little longer. Eventually the fingers synced and worked it out. Lots of different things kind of controlled how long a piece stayed on my weekly music stand.

Would your teacher be willing, if you asked, to continue on a piece you really wanted to master? Seems like that makes sense, especially from your learning need to pull it more together.

I remember one other thing that actually was a little sad for me to see. But I realize now it was practical, and did need to happen. One of the new students just starting like me, had a "conference" with his teacher and parents and music center owner. The result was that the teacher's recommendation was that the student was not grasping how to play very well at all. The teacher suggested he "quit" the accordion. Tough stuff. I think in a way some parents may have be grateful rather than continuing to pay for lessons.

At the end of the day, you can always find a different teacher with whom you can more smoothly work with. We newbies, along with our parents, were told that also when we started out. A teacher change sometimes made a world of difference.
 

losthobos

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Don't rush to master tunes.... Just revisit them at a latter date and you'll find they've generally developed without you noticing...
I'm constantly reviewing my back catalogue...
Good luck
 

debra

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My first (and only teacher) taught me the following method:
1. Don't try a whole song at once, but do it in "phrases" first.
2. When you make a mistake, repeat the phrase 5 times without mistake.
3. If in repeating you again make a mistake, for each time you make a mistake you have to do it correctly 5 times, so keep count as the numbers can go up quickly... (He never gave me an upper limit on the number of times to play it correctly.)
What I did learn mostly is that you have to practice a lot, especially the difficult bits.
Let me add my own bit: once you can more or less get through the whole piece, you have to play it 100 times to really get through it (without errors, consistently), after that another 100 times to be able to play it by heart (again, without errors, and consistently), and then another 100 times to be able to play it by heart in front of an audience.
 

losthobos

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Let me add my own bit: once you can more or less get through the whole piece, you have to play it 100 times to really get through it (without errors, consistently), after that another 100 times to be able to play it by heart (again, without errors, and consistently), and then another 100 times to be able to play it by heart in front of an audience.
Brutally true.... 😉
 

jozz

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I tend to follow your teacher.

I guess the main thing here is that you keep playing, and grow. Not necessarily the individual pieces are so important. If you were aiming at a very specific date, and needed 45 minutes of music at some performance, you'd have to think more to the line of repetition.
 

Anyanka

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I had a similar experience with my piano teacher - I think she moved on more quickly than I wanted to because she was used to teaching children, with possibly a lower boredom threshold and lower expectations of perfection. The problem was that I was forever playing lots of tunes not-quite-well-enough, whereas I really wanted to play fewer pieces but learn them properly. I would suggest that you either tell your teacher what you want, find a new teacher, or maybe go to lessons less frequently.
 

TomBR

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It's a great big topic!
I'd say use a mixed approach - a piece may have good things to teach you but some parts may be just too hard at your current level of playing. No point in staying on that one piece until you're up to a higher level as there will be many other things to learn from other pieces in the meantime.

There should be no random element one's playing. It's not good enough to get it right two times out of three. Have a few bits like that in your piece and the probability is you'll never get through without a mistake.

I think there's more than one sort of mistake.
- The ones that really need to be nailed are the ones where you only get it right by chance. That probably means you don't actually know what you're doing. Slow it down, take it apart until you know exactly what you should be doing. It may be that you can only play that bit at a speed that is unsuitable for the whole piece. OK either change the music or play something different.
- The other sort of mistake is the one off, the "unforced error" in tennis terms. You can totally play that bit, but that time only your concentration slipped or whatever. No point in practicing it, unless you make the same mistake again, which may mean it's the other sort of mistake!

I believe in the "concrete" or "glue" analogy. Things need time to "set" or "harden." If you're playing something that's new and near the edge of your ability then when it comes under pressure, performance or whatever, it will break. You can play something new a thousand times, but if you try to perform it that same day it will crack under pressure. It may just need time. A month later when you can play it while watching the TV or thinking about something else, the glue or concrete has set and the item is secure.

One of my favourite pages on the subject of learning and practicing is here...

Good luck!
Tom
 

TomBR

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...and I forgot a crucial and simple principle
DON'T PRACTICE PLAYING IT WRONG!
(I know I do that more than I'd like to admit!)
 

Stephen Hawkins

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Hi Chickers,

Two things occurred to me when reading your initial question, and they both involve "ownership" or "responsibility" for your learning and practice.

Your relationship with your tutor should be symbiotic, with the speed and direction of your progress being discussed and negotiated at every stage. Every aspect of the learning process should be tailored to your individual needs and musical tastes. If it is not, something is wrong.

There are those who would offer a contrary vision of learning, but I have always felt that the initiative should be entirely in the hands of the person learning. Take ownership of your lessons by telling the tutor what you expect to achieve, and what type of music you want to play.

The tunes you will find easiest to learn are those which you like and which are familiar to you. Insist that those tunes are used in the programme, and don't allow your tutor to dictate the material you use for learning or practice. Tell him/her when you are ready to move on to the next tune, and what that tune will be.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
 

Tom

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All good advice, especially like Hawkins'. If you like and trust your teacher you can discuss this idea with him/her and come to a conclusion you are happy with. My advice is to think about building a repertoire of songs that you like to play, and can play at a level that pleases you and you would feel comfortable playing for family and friends. (You're always going to make mistakes, the skill is to play through them and keep going with a smile and no one will care.) This could be independent of your lessons. Even if it's just one song to start with. Obviously harder songs will require more time, so start with something easy that you like. Don't worry that it is too simple to please your friends, they don't play and will be impressed with whatever you do.
 

Little John

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This is my first contribution to this forum - I play duet concertina but have just dipped my toe in the CBA world.

Something I've noticed over the years is that when I try some new technique it rarely works perfectly on the first tune, but when I use it in subsequent tunes it's OK. Maybe that's your teacher's theory - you'll never get it quite right on the first tune so best to move on and and allow it to flourish in a new context.
 

Zevy

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My two cents:
My experience was the opposite. My teacher would have me work on a piece so long that I would have to insist on moving on. I would say that you should be able to tell your teacher how much YOU would like to work on a particular piece of music. After all, you are paying the teacher!
Good luck(y)
 

Glenn

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If you’re not enjoying the practice because you are playing it too many times it will end up being counterproductive. If you are happy to play a phrase until your fingers bleed then repeat the process the following day, that is the method for you. I think it is all in the pleasure you get from playing.
 

oldbayan

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Always have a plan! Like, today I will spend [number] minutes warming up doing scales, then practice the first 8 bars of [tune1], carry on working on [tune 2] from yesterday. Etc.
 

stickista

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I tend to follow your teacher.

I guess the main thing here is that you keep playing, and grow. Not necessarily the individual pieces are so important. If you were aiming at a very specific date, and needed 45 minutes of music at some performance, you'd have to think more to the line of repetition.

There is no law saying you can’t perfect pieces to your heart’s content after a teacher has decided you’ve gotten from it whats needed from them.
 

godgi

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I agree with all the above especially debra observations.
You will not know how well you know a piece until u play before an audience and then your unsure parts will show up immediately and u will have to dive for cover as it were. I normally work on material beyond my ability as i get a great trill of the journey as it were and inspiration from attempting.
Try and get an audience ie play for free to build up confidence.
Another thing after 40 years playing is to try and find a style that might suit your ability and your enjoyment.
A nice repetoir.
Godgi
 

godgi

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About scales and arpeggios.
Try and establish a use for them in real life perhaps using inversion patterns to complete a piece eg with a jazz chord
 

Pipemajor

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On a slightly different tack. In the pipe band world we sometimes have to learn a new tune for a specific event and we probably won't play it again.
I have found that, if I don't particularily like the tune, I have difficulty in summoning up the enthusiasm to learn it, whereas, if I do like the tune, I have no difficulty in learning and, more important, remembering that tune.
You always know your current favourite tune. It's the one that keeps buzzing round your head when you are trying to sleep at night and your fingers can't keep still:mad:
 

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