Practice approach

A place to discuss Playground's main curriculum, the Bootcamp.
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Practice approach

Post by danlhsb1012 » Sat Feb 08, 2020 11:42 am

I have been using Playground Sessions since Aug 1, 2019. I have completed Rookie Tour Bootcamp and have completed a little less than half the Intermediate Tour Bootcamp lessons. I am still playing Rookie level songs, as I am still awkward in playing with both hands on the keyboard. My current practice approach is to work on a Rookie level song, usually moderate or advanced level, at "slow" speed until I can play it at 90% accuracy as scored by my iPAD app. Then I start learning a new Rookie song, again usually moderate or advanced level, at "slow" speed. Each practice session consists of warming up with one octave scales, then playing a couple of different songs at "slow" tempo, and maybe doing at least part of an Intermediate Tour Bootcamp lesson. I enjoy the variety of playing different songs, even if I do have to play them at "slow" speed.

My question is, should I be putting more emphasis on continuing to practice the same song until I can play it at "full" recommended speed? How important is this?

Also, right now the Rookie hard level songs are still quite a challenge for me. When should I think about starting to look at Intermediate easy or moderate songs?

Thanks for your suggestions. I appreciate any and all feedback!

Dan Leffl

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Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2017 2:51 pm

Re: Practice approach

Post by EFlatMajor » Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:10 pm

Hi Dan,

I tried to hold off on replying to your post because my answer to your question would have been "Your practice method should be what works best for you" - a completely true yet completely useless answer.

I will tell you what I did and you can take or leave any portion you like.

I started off PGS whipping through the rookie boot camp at the speed of light, thinking with my 80% mastery of each lesson I would be playing with a band within a month. It doesn't work that way. About halfway through I started having a lot of trouble completing the lessons.

I have a teaching background, and I can tell that each PGS lesson builds on the success of the previous lesson. 80% is a nice number, but 100% is much better in terms of being prepared for the next lesson. So I went back to the beginning and redid every lesson until I had 100% for every part of every lesson.

After I caught up I did much better with the newer lessons, still tough and a lot of work, but the frustration just was not there any more.

And of course when I learn something new, such as counting beats and time signatures, I go back to the beginning again, implementing what I learned into those early lessons, but only do the last part of each lesson. It takes time, but makes moving forward easier. I have already shut off the finger/note name tools and do my lessons without them.

I do not use the "slow tempo" mode. It throws me off in terms of rhythm. I learn music at full speed, and use the loop tool when I have difficult measures to practice.

Other things I do:
  • The Hanon Exercises - (search "The Virtuoso Pianist" in these forums)
  • Each night before I start the current lesson, I do the last part of the previous 4 lessons to 100%
  • When I get 100% on a new lesson piece, I immediately do it again to make sure it was not a lucky accident or a fluke
I am not trying to make things harder on myself, but 90% of learning piano is repetition. This is what works for me. It may not work for you or anyone else. Caveat emptor.

In terms of your other question - absolutely work on only one song at a time. Work on that song at full speed. When you have mastered it within PGS, print out the sheet music and play the song outside of PGS. Slowly wean yourself off the sight reading until you can play the song without help. Once you are done, practice that song once in a while and feel free to start working on the next song.

You can search these forums for other practice methods as well.

You are like me in that you are in it for the long haul. Congrats on making it as far as you did and best of luck completing the rest of the program.

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Re: Practice approach

Post by FlatPanda » Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:45 am

"I am not trying to make things harder on myself, but 90% of learning piano is repetition." This, a 100 times this! You are building muscle memory. The sheet music is there to learn and then to keep tact, but you don't play from the sheet but from (muscle) memory.

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Joined: Sat Feb 08, 2020 11:25 am

Re: Practice approach

Post by danlhsb1012 » Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:38 am

EFlatMajor - thank you so much for the thoughtful and insightful reply! What you said makes total sense and I like your approach! I appreciate you taking the time to reply! You have made a difference in the way I will practice from now on! Thank you!

FlatPanda - thank you for re-emphasizing the need for repetition! I am beginning to understand and see the light! Thanks for your help!

Dan Leffel

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