Where's the limit when practicing over and over again a piece?
Hi, this may seem like a simple question, but it is one that has been in my head for a while.
When you're practicing a piece, say Czardas, where's the limit between...
A: OK, I need to practice this section and this other one, over and over again until the whole piece is so polished I can present it to an orchestra audition
B: Finally, I've learned it, it doesn't sound very polished but repeating this piece over and over again will get me nowhere, it will improve "by itself" when I get better practicing other pieces, making my overall violin playing better
Should you practice so much each single piece you learn so you can put it in your "beginner repertoire", or should you practice just enough each piece so you've learnt the basic core stuff of the piece and it will get better over time?
Of course this is a question from a beginner perspective, professionals must practice each piece the time necessary to be able to play it live in front of the public.
Practise it only as long as you can intently focus on improving it and the piece shouldn't get boring. Mindless practise is a waste of time and burns you out.
It depends if the piece in particular is a mean or an end. If it's one of the exercises or lessons in the violinist's climb, it's probably there for a reason which is often to add a technique or a new element in the player's knowledge. For those pieces, you play them again and again until you drill that new technique (and get help to do it better).
I see questions like this in classical guitar forums. There the word "perfection" is used frighteningly often, as if there were any such thing.
"If you go on to harder pieces, you will be able to go back and play the easier pieces much better than if you had stuck with them."
I think the answer depends on your technical abilities. If you pick a piece that's significantly too hard for you, it might never really sound polished no matter how much practice time you pour into it.
I think, speaking as a fellow amateur, that if one is practicing/playing the piece to learn it then when you've reached your max with it -and are at the point where you are repeating without a clear notion of why you are repeating and what you are consciously practicing- it is time to move on.
I think there is a great deal to be learned by fine polishing, but there has to be a limit. And that limit is, plain and simple, your existing technique. We don't hold children back from starting Book 2 until they can play all the songs in Book 1 as well as Heifetz. Pedagogically it makes more sense to move up to the next level so that you can stay on a steeper learning curve.
Don't you also want to keep the purely musical aspects of the piece alive? So long as I continued to be inspired and energized by the sound and feel of playing a passage or whole piece it seems perfectly fine to continue repeating it. But when starting to lose the kick you get from playing it, maybe it's time to switch to something else.
"Practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent"--someone said. Repeating something wrong only locks it in, makes it much harder to repair later, when your technique is better. Chop up the piece into smaller phrases, and do three or four repetitions of each section. Ten is too many, a waste of time and mental energy. Later connect the phrases into longer sections. You will get better results from 3 repetitions each, Monday Tuesday, Wednesday, than 10 times on a Monday, doing something else Tu-W. This is especially true for memorization. Something important happens when we are asleep, the back of the brain (speaking metaphorically) stays awake, processing the new, important information of the day, discarding the trash.
I once played a gig with Roy Clark (of Hee Haw fame). I was zoning out during the show, and zoned back in to catch the tail end of some folksy joke he was telling:
The answer to this question depends on a lot of things. If you have a performance scheduled you'll have to use the time you have to make your rendition as convincing as you can. Even then I find that doubling practice time does not double the effect of the practice. You may have to make compromises (an easy fingering rather than the one you would like because it sounds well; play only one note of a double stop you can't seem to get right etc.).
Mindless playing actually reinforces defects rather than curing them.