How many pieces do you practice at the same time?

January 27, 2018, 1:01 PM · I tend to get bored easily so I try to practice many pieces at once. Is that counter productive?

I'm currently working on:
Mozart vc no 3
Bach partita no 2 allemande
Sarasate playera
Mazaz Etude no 2 from ├ętudes sp├ęciales

P.S: I practice about 3 hours a day and focus most of that is scales and Sevcik and I leave about an hour to repertoire.

Please do tell me what works for you. :)

Replies (21)

Edited: January 27, 2018, 2:11 PM · Two hours a day (two thirds of your total time) on Scales and Sevcik sounds like a lot.
Edited: January 27, 2018, 2:52 PM · Up to 3 hours a day -- roughly 60% practicing, 40% playing:

- 20-minute warm-up -- 5 minutes on bow arm, 15 minutes on left hand.
- Scales, shifts, double-stops.
- Etude review.
- Repertoire -- one item for new material + past repertoire from memory after that if I have time left.

Not sure how much would be counterproductive -- we all have our different thresholds.

Edited: January 27, 2018, 8:08 PM · Depends on your mentality, expectations of results, difficulty of music, current performance schedule and personal schedule.
January 27, 2018, 9:02 PM · I agree with Paul.
January 27, 2018, 11:02 PM · I think you are definitely on the right track for practicing many pieces at once.

Assuming none of theses pieces is extremely out of your reach (i.e. you need to practice extremely extremely slowly that would make it the least musical possible), once you get to the plateau stage (after all the foundations like intonation and rhythms are knocked out), it's actually not good to practice the same piece every day, because then your brain won't have enough time to perform the "myelination" process, which is basically "remembering" your practice.

So, if you have a large repertoire to go through, it actually works in your favour because in this case, a 3-4 day cycle for a piece is the optimal pace you'd want to go at.

Edited: January 28, 2018, 1:37 AM · Thank you for your answers.

@Paul and @Mary I thought building technique would allow me to play more advanced repertoire, and I admit sevcik is a bit addictive (I do op2,3,6,7,8 and op11) just a few measures from each book everyday. And I've seen progress.

Could you please elaborate. Is it that I'm not putting enough time for repertoire? Or I'm doing too much technique?

January 28, 2018, 10:00 AM · If you're fully meeting your own expectations for repertoire, as well as meeting your teacher's expectations and making good progress, that'll determine whether or not you're spending enough time on repertoire. If your answers to the above is "yes", I think that as long as you're happy with spending a crap-load of time on technique, it's okay. It's just unusual. That's all.
January 28, 2018, 11:37 AM · I play an hour a day and usually have 2 solo pieces. I play an extra 30 minutes for my group and youth symphony and pit orchestral pieces.
January 28, 2018, 12:25 PM · On a 3-hour schedule with a range of repertoire, it makes more sense for it to be 45 minutes of scales/exercises, 45 minutes on etudes, and 1.5 hours on repertoire.
January 28, 2018, 12:34 PM · Thank you Lydia.

I used to consider etudes as more repertoire than technique. Incorporating 45 minutes of etudes will even things out.

Thanks again

January 28, 2018, 12:47 PM · You probably want to ask your teacher for a second etude. You might possibly have one that's more right-hand focused and one that's more left-hand focused, or otherwise focus on two totally different techniques.

January 28, 2018, 2:05 PM · Yeah a 25%/25%/50% distribution seems to be about right for most people.
January 28, 2018, 2:44 PM · You should also be treating the technical challenges in your solo pieces as etudes.
Edited: January 28, 2018, 7:29 PM · Totally agree with Mary. I think that etudes are great for building certain skills and work better for building certain skills more than exercises. I also think that etudes should be assigned based on a particular student's strengths and weaknesses, rather than a typical one-fits-all approach. However, other skills can be built just as effectively with repetitive exercises as etudes, although etudes can help put these skills in a more musical context. I think too many unnecessary etudes can get boring, but that's just my opinion.
Edited: January 28, 2018, 8:24 PM · The purpose of etudes is to concentrate work on a particular technical aspect. For example trill studies often make sure that you have a variety of fingerings, speeds, half-step vs. whole-step, fingerboard location, ornamentation, etc.

But if you work on sections of your repertoire you'll be honing your technique too. There are definitely sections in the Mozart 3 that I have trouble playing cleanly and in tune. Working on those sections isn't as specialized as it sounds, though, because there are similar *kinds* of passages in lots of other pieces.

The two approaches are complementary. But the thing is that after you polish up the Mozart 3, you've also got a piece you can perform, that will continue to grow with you as your technique and musicality improve.

PS ... this is coming to you from another person who loves to work on etudes. :)

Edited: January 29, 2018, 1:22 PM · For me, one third basics and scales, one third consolidation, and one third challenges. This way, two thirds of my practice is "perfect", and progess in the remainig third is faster.

I think of Sevcik as "beneficial" rather than "addictive"!

I don't progress because of playing studies, but because of what they contain - which I can usually find in repertoire fragments. But I take Kreutzer with me on holiday!


Edited: January 29, 2018, 8:23 AM · In the past I also spent a lot of time on scales and etudes. Lately, I tend to agree that working on challenging passages of rep. is an optimal strategy.

For the last 6 months, I have been working on just certain parts of the Bruch concerto. They will never be as good as I like them to be, but they do get better everyday and I become a better player in the process

January 29, 2018, 12:40 PM · At first glance I didn't think that was too much repertoire, but it does seem a lot if you're only doing an hour a day of pieces. I know you didn't ask for practice advice but like others have said, maybe this amount of repertoire would be more achievable with 1.5-2 hours per day?
January 29, 2018, 4:55 PM · 3 hours per day? Wow. Do you guys have Day jobs or are you full time musicians or retired? I'm doing well to hit one hour per day
Edited: January 29, 2018, 8:02 PM · We'll never know because when the time came to fill in something in his profile, he figured, ah, well, screw that, who cares anyway. It's just a blog site after all.
January 29, 2018, 8:33 PM · I'm playing Czardas, Bartok Romanian Folk Dances, Bach Concerto in A minor 1st movement, and Mozart Concerto No.3 1st movement, Kreisler Praeludium and Allegro, as well as some orchestral stuff, like Beethoven Symphony 7 1st movement, and Mozart Piano Concerto 23 (all). I think it's wayyyyy too much.

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