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Intelligent and Organized Practice Routine

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Intelligent and Organized Practice Routine

Postby Neumie » Sat Aug 20, 2016 6:44 pm

I've been serious about learning the piano (for music basics) and ultimately the organ for over a year now. I've been on it an hour a day without fail. I've learned some basic sight-reading and am just getting started with four-part hymns, including the pedals. In a few weeks, I suspect I'll be able to play my first couple of hymns on an organ, pedals and all.

I found the most insightful essay that said that the best practice routine does not drill endlessly on one passage. Instead, the article suggested to have a number of items to work on, and cycle through them all, investing no more than ten minutes or so on each one. I assume a guy could cycle through his routine several times in one sitting ... but the point was not to spend more than 10 minutes at a time on something before moving onto the next module. That advice seems to be working very well for me. It's really helped move the sight-reading along.

But now I'm ready to move from an hour or so to as much as three hours. I do get some basic coaching from a friend who plays organ very well, but who is not a professional teacher and hasn't gotten me into the kinds of stuff you might encounter if you were getting a degree ... ie, fancy theory or "discipline" exercises. I'm just learning how to play the hymns I like, albeit properly - like a good organist would.

One hour a day is plenty to go through my "ten minutes per item" routine every day. Working on memorizing pedal lines ... then working on right hand ... then left hand ... then both hands ... and finally both hands with pedals.

That's about it for me every day.

But if a guy wants to get serious and move to three hours a day ... what does he work on for that much time? I could just work on, say, six or eight hymns concurrently instead of two or three. I could start breaking up a basic Bach piece into pieces and learn it. Those all seem somewhat arbitrary choices ... but if that's what up-and-coming pros do, then that's what I'll do.

I did recently ask a world-renowned organist how much she practiced when she was coming up. She said her routine was five hours a day. It didn't occur to me in the moment I was getting to speak with her what she actually did for five hours.

Can anyone give me insight into what an aggressive, organized, and intelligent intermediate practice routine might look like?

-N
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Re: Intelligent and Organized Practice Routine

Postby harty » Tue Aug 23, 2016 6:25 am

Hi Neumie

In response to your plea for organ training help and what to practice I would suggest you look up the organ training program by Vidas Pinkevicius - an organ university teacher in Lithuania.
He is so enthusiastic and posts DAILY blogs. I have subscribed to his total organist program and found certain modules are excellent.
check out his website -

http://www.organduo.lt/

suggest initially look at 'free stuff' - organ tutorial - then check out all his different modules - includes pedal exercises - left hand and pedals - sight reading etc. (these are for advanced organists ). His module - Bach Organ mastery Level 1 -
http://www.organduo.lt/bach-organ-mastery-level-1.html is really excellent with pdf score - mp3 , slow practise and an in depth video lesson, taking you through the composition and how to practice - each of the 8 (little) preludes and fugues.
His Anna Magadalena book teaching is similar and perhaps the starting off place - for you - ( as manuals only) . His Mass of the Convents - Couperin - ( also manuals only )- video and good teaching lessons - and I found very good.
He also has podcasts etc with various interesting organists and teachers and is very performance orientated with weekly long improvisations - all free to watch - -via you tube. He is most approachable and supportive.
Welcome to email me if further options needed to discuss. ( I am a intermediate organist now, being requested by my church to play - great way to get you playing hymns - improve sight reading - gain confidence etc ) .
Taking this on since now retired ( from General practice - medicine - ) and finally having time to 'learn the organ'. I live in a small alpine village (Hanmer Springs) far away from any organ teachers. So lucky now to have internet and especially Hauptwerk. ( Played via Allan console ) .
( I have tried sending a PM but not sure that it is sent ).

All the very Best
Good Luck

Peter - New Zealand
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Re: Intelligent and Organized Practice Routine

Postby Neumie » Sat Aug 27, 2016 10:14 pm

This is great, Peter. Thanks for posting this. What a fantastic resource.

Yes, the next step for me too is playing in church. I don't have enough hymns under my fingers yet to contribute much in church. (I was going to say "under my belt", as is the American saying ... but then I remembered that's not the part of my body I play the organ with. "Under my fingers" is probably a better expression.)

But I think that a fair number of hymns is only two or three months away. By then, I'll also be learning another hymn every ten days or so, so I'll have more to contribute. Right now, the few hymns I've learned to completion took me about three weeks each.

I googled your town, by the way. That is some beautiful countryside you live in. And yes, the internet and HW have made the organ world much more closely connected.

-N
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Re: Intelligent and Organized Practice Routine

Postby 162_Ranks » Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:49 pm

Hi --

My routine is this:

1) Play 4 exercises from Hanon (I just go front to back in the book and then start over again)
2) Sightreading practice: right now I am working through the Lemmon L'Ecole por Orgue (I play each piece for a week or two, so it isn't quite sightreading). I also play a hymn in 4 parts which I only play once.
3) Works: one for manuals only, one for manuals and pedal. I practice each of these several times, looking to have them perfected enough to record. This can last weeks or months depending on difficulty.
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Re: Intelligent and Organized Practice Routine

Postby Neumie » Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:47 pm

162_Ranks wrote:My routine is this:

1) Play 4 exercises from Hanon (I just go front to back in the book and then start over again)
2) Sightreading practice: right now I am working through the Lemmon L'Ecole por Orgue (I play each piece for a week or two, so it isn't quite sightreading). I also play a hymn in 4 parts which I only play once.
3) Works: one for manuals only, one for manuals and pedal. I practice each of these several times, looking to have them perfected enough to record. This can last weeks or months depending on difficulty.


Thanks so much for posting this, 162_Ranks. This is exactly the kind of stuff I was hoping I would see. I wanted to know how people spend their time when they practice and what they focus on.

I'm not a young guy ... and still new to the organ ... so I don't have the benefit of a college campus full of music students to learn from by osmosis. I practice every day and have little sense of whether or not I'm moving along fast enough, focusing on the right things, etc. The only feedback I have is a fellow organist at church who is coaching me, but this person is not a professional music teacher. He is also extremely accommodating and patient, which is great much of the time ... but every now and then I feel like someone deeply into music studies would get into my face with regard to what a normal practice routine looks like, how focused an aspiring organist needs to be, and whether or not the psyche is delivering enough "push" to keep the progress flowing at a maximum rate, and whether I'm getting the full cross-section of different aspects of music - not just reading notes.

So hearing how you break up your routine was helpful. I could wish for a few dozen people who would let me peek into their practice rooms in the same way, just so I know what other people are doing and how fast is fast enough.
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Re: Intelligent and Organized Practice Routine

Postby robsig » Thu Sep 01, 2016 6:44 pm

I have found that the older I get the better I practice. That is because I can now make myself slow down and stop without being impelled to play the music for emotional gratification. Here are a few tips I have learned about practicing.

Focus only on those passages where you are having trouble. Repeat the shortest possible sequence of notes to iron out the glitch. It's like ironing out wrinkles. Play as slowly as you need to guarantee the right result. Otherwise you are practicing your mistake. Gradually add notes before and after the passage. Be aware of what physical movements cause the mistake or solve the mistake. Only repeat a lick 5 or 6 times without variation. I've heard the brain clogs after that number and nothing more is learned until some element is changed. After a moment doing another group of notes you can come back and rework at the first passage.

As you solve the mistakes, slowly increase the speed. Practice at several speeds, whether it is musical or not. Practice playing a passage faster than you will need to. Be able to play a passage at least ten times without mistake before moving on (I've heard 20 times, but I lose interest before that).

Start on different notes of the sequence, not just from beat to beat or from the first note to the last. Practice going beyond the beat to a note unrelated to the passage.

Alternate practicing and playing, for motivation and pleasure. Don't just work !

Take breaks every half-hour, whether you think you need them or not. If mistakes accumulate, it's time to stop.

Try practicing only in your mind, away from the instrument. It's very efficient!

Practice different combinations of voices and hands. Practice thinking of each voice alone as you play all the voices. Practice with different registrations, appropriate and not. Anything to prepare the brain for the unexpected.

Warm up with something you know well. Then work on new material when you're fresh. At the end replay some more familiar material.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful. The glory of Hauptwerk is that we can practice so much more and learn repertoire we never could before! It's very motivating! Good luck.

RS
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Re: Intelligent and Organized Practice Routine

Postby Neumie » Fri Sep 02, 2016 12:18 am

robsig wrote:Alternate practicing and playing, for motivation and pleasure. Don't just work !


Man, that's good advice to remember, RS. I can't remember the last time I cut loose on the instrument and just played something I enjoyed hearing myself play. It's been nothing but practice every day for a long while.
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Re: Intelligent and Organized Practice Routine

Postby profeluisegarcia » Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:02 pm

I have found very useful Rob's tips to practice organ. And also I have found that “the older I get, the tighter we get”, and a short exercise routine helps us to practice more relaxed. I share it with you fellow hauptwerkians.

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