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"If I've told you once, I've told you 100 times.."
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DanielB
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June 2, 2012 - 12:14 pm
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I was curious about if intense "woodshedding" can get a piece down well in a very short time.  So I decided on an arbitrary large number of practice runs, 100.  I took a piece that was on my list of pieces I want to be able to play, but where I hadn't practiced it yet or done much work on working it out.

"Annie Laurie" is an old song that happens to be one of the first instrumental bits of music I ever noticed.  My mother had a music box that played it, and when I was maybe 3 years old I would ask her to play it and I would watch the little ballerina on it spin and listen to the song, as many times as she would wind it up for me. LOL

So late Wednesday night, I started practicing it, over and over, in groups of 5 times each.  Over the next few days, I played it over 30 times a day.  At this point, I am pretty sure my family is quite sick of hearing it.  I know I got a bit burned out on it. 

I don't think it actually takes 100 times to learn a song.  I am pretty sure I passed the point of diminishing returns by about 40 or 50 repetitions.  Some things did improve.  The song was thoroughly committed to memory and my fingers got much more familiar with where to find those notes.  Transitions that were challenging the first few times through the song became easy. I also added some small embellishments, but tried to keep those to a minimum, since what I was trying to practice was more the pure melody.

Actual technical playing skills didn't improve as much.  My bowing got maybe a bit smoother, and it was good practice for my intonation, at least for those notes.  I can tell it helped somewhat, though, since other pieces also go a little bit smoother after this experiment.  Still not perfect playing, though, even after 100 reps.  Some things just can't be rushed by even obsessive amounts of practice, and it just takes time to develop. 

It also doesn't help with fatigue, and I simply don't play as well when I have been up all night and am thinking of sleeping soon.  I don't think anyone does.

So anyway, this is "Annie Laurie", the 100th time I played it.  I feel it did it better some of the previous times, but that wasn't the objective of this little exercise in obsession.  LOL

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"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Oliver
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June 2, 2012 - 1:31 pm
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Not a bad Annie for however many reps.

I probably do minimal reps as reps go.  I can do a decent job with sight reading on an intermediate piece in about 4 short sessions. ( i.e. maybe 4 x 15 minutes,

NEVER 1 x 60 ) dunno

However, I think the mental game is equally important.  I gotta have a plan.  Much music I fail to play is because I don't understand it, not because I can't play it.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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DanielB
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June 2, 2012 - 10:53 pm
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Thank you for your kind words, Oliver.

Usually I don't practice a piece the way I did this one either.  But I wanted to get an idea of at what point woodshedding a piece goes past the point of diminishing returns.  And to get over the nagging suspicion that pieces don't come out as well as I'd like because maybe I don't practice them enough.  

Nope, it is because I am still too much of a noob on the basics and the mechanical skills.  LOL  Those will come with practice over time.  I've just never been good at being patient with myself, so I had to check.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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cdennyb
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I have to agree with your comment on diminishing returns and found I can learn 75% of the tune I'm learning in 20 sessions or so and it takes the remaining 80 sessions to learn the rest. I find bowing to take at least twice as long to refine as learning the notes alone.

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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ftufc
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Nice piece Daniel.  Yeah, I'd agree with Oliver & Denny, you can practice a piece until you're fatigued, then there's little value in additional reps, but 30 - 40 reps at a time seems to help lock in the "mastery" (or at least mastery at my level anyway) for me. 

I've now been playing long enough that there are songs that I used to play for hours but haven't now for a month or so, and as "locked in" as the tune was for me, it amazes me how much of the song I'm rusty on when I try it again.  So the surprising thing to me is that no matter how well I knew/played a song, if I haven't played it in a while, it takes some work to get it again,,, could be old age.

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TerryT
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Yep Fred, that's old age
birthday_balloon

I was born with nothing,
and to my surprise I still have most of it left!

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Fiddlerman
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June 3, 2012 - 7:03 am
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That is interesting Daniel. Where you hearing the song in your head when you went to sleep too?

I usually have the last piece of a gig stuck in my head for quite a while. Sometimes it makes it hard to fall asleep. exactly

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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DanielB
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June 3, 2012 - 9:25 am
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I thought that old age was when we can remember a song we played 30 years ago, but can't remember the song we played while cooking breakfast?

I always thought the songs stuck in the head after a gig were a good thing, FM.  Free music, don't even have to pay to download it.  A little inconvenient if you go to compose, though, and it creeps into everything you're trying to write. LOL

 

I do think it is good, though, to play a new song a lot the first couple days, when it still has that new song fun to it.  Then drop back to where it gets practiced a reasonable amount along with your other songs, and it'll come along.  But just beating on it beyond that amount doesn't really do any miracles, and just would result in burn-out.  I remember back on college, people would practice pieces for exams or performances to just ridiculous degrees, and I thought in many cases their playing actually went a bit dead or they overcooked the piece a bit as a result.

But with learning anything new, including an instrument, you need to tinker around a bit and find out how much to practice and how hard to practice one thing before you move on to another for the time being.  I'm still finding that for violin/fiddle, but goofy stuff like this helps me get a better idea just seeing "oh, you should practice an hour a day" or 15 min or 5 hrs or whatever it says on some website somewhere.  What is actually optimal is going to vary from person to person and you need to find what works for you.

I practice about an hour in the morning, but that is mostly scales and arpeggios.  The "work" part of practice.  But I leave the instrument out most of the day and night, so that I can pick up and just play songs whenever the mood strikes.  That adds up to maybe a total of another hour most days.  On good days, probably another hour spent on other instruments here and there throughout the day.  More than that I probably can't do most days, since there's only so many hours in a day.

ftufc: Yeah, if I want to stay good on a piece on any song, I need to play it at least a couple times a week.  If I go more than 6 months without playing an instrument, then I need to spend at least a half hour a day to "get my hands back" for it.  Might take a week, might take a month, but it would takes a lot less time to get back to being at least ok on the instrument than it took to learn it in the first place.  Since I play several different instruments, there is almost always at least one that is being badly neglected.  Currently it would be piano/keyboard.  If I went right now and dusted off the keys (literally, since I haven't touched them in several months), I wouldn't be able to do much.  But a week or few of scales and basics and doing some easy pieces at first, and I'd have it back.  I know, since I've done that a few times over the years.   You don't learn the instrument or song all over again, it comes back to you in much less time than it took to learn it in the first place.  You just need to refresh on it a bit.  If I sat down at the keyboard right this minute, it would be a lot of goofs and botches.  "Thud and blunder" as we used to call it.  But when I've been playing keys regularly, things like this are pretty easy to put together.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Oliver
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June 3, 2012 - 10:00 am
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I gather that was you playing.  Very nice.

But your troubles are simple. 

I have a real enigma going on.

I have "played at" several instruments over the years.  I can usually remember something or other with a keyboard instrument.  I remember NOTHING with a violin except a few scales.  I can pick up my violin and "invent" some music but I seem unable to remember music I might have played yesterday.  ( Maybe this is another definition of old age ? )  I can, however, pick out a few tunes from the past on a keyboard.  Well, maybe not a surprise since the (blank) violin has no notes !  Maybe it needs frets like a guitar facepalm

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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DanielB
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June 3, 2012 - 10:22 am
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Yup that's me playing.  One and a half of me, if you want to be precise, since I felt it needed a bit more right after I did it and went through and added another track of right hand. 

But yes, I can see where that is a bit of an enigma.  The only thing I can think of is perhaps there is a difference in how you think when playing the violin.  Perhaps you focused less on the note names and theory when learning it than you did with piano/keyboards so it doesn't store in your brain's memory quite the same way? 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Late bloomer
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Well, theres two ways to tell if your getting old.

One is you start to loose your memory,

 

 and and the other is,,, uh

  hmm,,,    and  the  other is huh,, ,,  let me get  back to you on that.  embarassed

No matter where you go, there you are!

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springer
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Oh boy! I forgot there is another excuse, OLD AGE. Thanks I needed that.jimi-hendrixbananabananared_cursingred_cursingbananabananaviolin_girl

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TerryT
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Ftufc and me had a conversation earlier. We both agree. Old age sucks!

But let's face it. It's better than the alternative

I was born with nothing,
and to my surprise I still have most of it left!

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Mad_Wed
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June 3, 2012 - 5:01 pm
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Nice! Both of the them....

Though i never played something 100 times..

What a persistance surprised hats_off!!

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NoirVelours
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The 100 time practice is a Suzuki approach, get your color pencils out an start on this:

http://www.suzukiviolincenter......ls0001.pdf

"It can sing like a bird, it can cry like a human being, it can be very angry, it can be all that humans are" Maxim Vengerov

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DanielB
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That is pretty cool, NV!   I googled "suzuki 100 times" to find out more about it and found out apparently some teachers give out stickers too.  I guess that is one of those things that makes it harder to teach yourself.  No stickers. 

I am very boring.  I didn't even think of anything like a gumball coloring sheet.  I just made marks on a sheet of paper.  Ah well.

LOL

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Mad_Wed
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NoirVelours said
The 100 time practice is a Suzuki approach, get your color pencils out an start on this:

http://www.suzukiviolincenter......ls0001.pdf

WoHooooooo! I need to print itdrooling  duncecapdevil-violinlaugh

Let's start the "page of 100". Now  i'm learning to play "Elves dance" by E. Jenkinson. Heee-hee i'll see what it gonna sound like when i colour all those balls =D

Thanks!birthday_balloon

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Oliver
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Darn it!  I just found out that Regina Carter was a Suzuki kid but I never saw this piece.  Maybe it was in the next book and I missed it.  I could'a been great.

Just listening to Regina I can tell she was from Suzuki.  Her training and awesome musical talent are quite apparent.  I wonder if her Mother also went to lessons (?)

Did she really have to play this piece 100 times ?

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When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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springer
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I'll bet Pierre doesent have to play things 100 times any more to learn them.violin_girl

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Oliver
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No stars for him tongue

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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