How long does it take to learn a new piece from scratch?
I was wondering approximately how long (in your respective personal experiences) does it take to learn a totally new piece from scratch (say, a 10 minute long showpiece like Introduction and Rondo Capriciosso)?
This is assuming one has (or is nearing) the technical level to play the piece
Thanks in advance, and I'm looking forward your replies!
Depends on the quality of practice.
Really depends on how much knowledge you bring in with you. If you've never practised line staccato and you want to learn, let's say, Paganini 21, then obviously it's gonna take you a while.
Of course, "it depends" is the only answer anyone can give you, but it probably isn't the answer you were hoping for. So I'll give you a concrete answer:
Depends on;-- How far you take the learning process, the length of the piece, the technical difficulty level. So, at least several days. the four stages of learning a piece: 1) Sight-reading - discover if you want to do the piece. 2) How to play it-- design your personal fingerings and bowings. 3) Able to play it --correct repetitions gradually getting up to tempo. 4) Memorization - more consecutive days and repetitions. Modern, non-tonal pieces will take longer to memorize.
Not 6 years to learn the Bruch concerto... 6 years to get from Twinkle Twinkle to Bruch. That's a fast but quite realistic pace.
I think it depends on the piece. There are some pieces where 90% of your practice time will end up going into a handful of intransigent, very difficult or just plain awkward practice. And there are some pieces which just tend to eat practice time in general, not necessarily directly correlated to raw difficulty. I suspect "awkward" causes the most difficulties in eating practice time. (But I've been wanting to play the Tchaikovsky Valse-Scherzo for a while, which my teacher warns consumes a lot of practice time in a not-worth-the-effort ratio.)
Depends on what you mean by learn.
It varies widely depending on a whole lot of factors, including age, motivation, skill level, and what particular assets you have.
It's worth pointing out, though, that a violinist can get to the point with their technique (and it sounds like Susan's son is close to that point) where one can learn to play just about anything in the musical violin repertoire, and the only things that one still struggles with are the things that were written with difficulty and crowd-pleasing showiness rather than musicality as the composer's primary objective.
Regarding Julian Bream, solo classical guitar is extremely exposed. You can hear every tiny flaw. Many of us would spend extra time polishing solo Bach too.
The Bach is humbling, Paul. Yesterday, I was promising myself I would upload the Allemande, which I had been working on for the last month and memorizing, so I kept recording takes, over and over, and invariably I would have a memory slip somewhere in the second half after feeling pretty good about the first half. What I ended up with after many takes is the one where I made it to the end, and there are some spots with some definite intonation issues. I was actually kind of horrified when I listened back, but a promise is a promise. I will be back, Allemande!
Currently, I'm learning the Bach Partita. Each section seems to take a month to really be able to play. Currently, I just started the Gigue. I'm a slow learner I guess you could say.
Christian, I have no shame: I just start over at the most recent double bar and then edit the video. I figure people would rather see the sudden "jerky movement" of the splice than listen to me murder a double-stop or lose my place.
I was considering that, but then I figured that the time spent editing would be prohibitive, and I also kinda want it sitting out there like that, taunting me. Something something rage-to-master.
The answer to this question depends on what your purpose is in learning a specific piece or part.
As others have said, it depends on what level you are trying to move the piece into and Lydia's linked discussion covers this extensively.
There is maybe one more point to add here: One does not have to "learn" a piece in one big effort. I have made good experiences with taking a piece to a certain level, putting it aside (for anywhere between months and decades!) and then take it back up. Generally one gets to the level of before quite rapidly and can then push for more quality.
@Susan wow that's amazing! How long does he practice repertoire everyday? And also, what does he do to keep his technique in tip-top condition (Flesch scales, dont etudes etc?)
I would agree with Susan. About a week to learn the notes and be able to play straight through under tempo, with some sections still not solid. Another week to get it to close to tempo. Many more weeks to get it to a true performance level.
Hi Joel -- he's a fast learner for sure, but a lot of the kids at his level are. They have to be. He practices about 1 hour of technique and 2 hours of repertoire a day during the school year.
I can normally get the 1st violin part of intermediate-level orchestra repertoire to a good level with under 5 hours of passage practice.
A lot of people think that a piece of repertoire at the "right" level should be sight-readable in slow tempo, with maybe a handful of sections that are too difficult for that.
For me, personally? If I were to sit down and put genuine effort into learning Rondo Capriccioso and only practice that one piece, it would probably take me two months at 2 hours per day to bring it up to a performance level that I would personally deem acceptable. So that's a total of 120 hours of really dedicated effort.
Since we're not performing these days, I'd be up for another round of the "3 hour challenge" if other people want to... (or possibly see how far you can get in a week?)
When you remember that there are 2763 total concertos in the violin repertoire, a young violinist who can't learn 20+ of them per year has no fighting chance.
Now if you asked, "How long does it take to learn a piece FREE FROM scratch?" ...
Hi Susan, that's amazing, does he set aside time for etudes too?
James, out of sheer curiosity, what concerto are you "slogging" through right now?
@Joel -- his technique hour includes scales, Schradieck, and easier etudes (ie Kreutzer, Dont). He also practices Paganini Caprices, though those he practices in his regular repertoire hours.
Ah I see, but one thing I must point out is that I'm doing Dont Op. 35 and it is definitely not one of the "easier etudes"!!
Hah -- that is certainly true! He is on a brutal Dont one. It's more just a general way of dividing things up.
It's an interesting question and my mind came back to this thread a few minutes ago when I read the last page of the May 2020 issue of The STRAD magazine, that arrived at my home late last week.
The easier Dont is Op. 37, I believe. And Op. 20 is for children.
Yes Andrew, I was taught at school that the verb is spelled "practise" and the noun "practice". The reversal of this is by no means universal in the USA, for instance, I found on google:
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