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Ratio of practice time to progress


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#1 LDT

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 11:10 AM

So does the amount of time you practice effect the time it takes to progress?
So far I'm doing a minimum of a hour practice each day then spending all afternoon practicing (if I'm not doing anything else) on a saturday and about 2 hours on a sunday.

If I increased or decreased the amount of practice time would it affect my progress I.e. speed or slow it up?

#2 CaryK

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 11:32 AM

Hi LDT,

Can only give you my experience. The more I practice, the more progress I make. That being said, the way I practice and my lack of much past musical experience probably means that it may take me more hours of practice to make 1 unit of progress than for other "more talented" or more experienced folks. Progress is uneven. Some days or weeks I can objectively see that I've made a lot of progress with a new tune or polishing up an old tune. Other times I seem to go for many days or even weeks without seeing tremendous improvement. But the exercise is fun, and the music, when it comes out even moderately well is such a rush (cause I never thought I'd be one who was able to make music), that I keep at it. That's the key . . .keeping at it. Once you get past a certain level you will also find that it takes somewhat less practice to gain each unit of progress. Good luck.

#3 RatFace

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 11:47 AM

More practice = more progress, assuming nothing else changes.

However, some practice is better than others. The more you listen and analyse your playing, the more effective will be the practice. Perhaps practising and recording yourself for one hour, and then going for an hours walk and listening to the practise session on your mp3 player, could actually be more effective than 2 hours "normal" practise?! It's certainly very easy to do these days.

If someone only plays in environments where they can't hear themselves (like in noisy sessions, or orchestras) I'm sure their playing can actually get worse, because it "trains" you to "hear" what you think you're playing, not what you're actually playing (it can do terrible thing to string players' ability to play in tune!). This extreme situation is probably not relevant for you though :) But many people do hear in their head what they think they're playing, not the sound they're actually making, and learning to listen is the most important part of effective practice and improving.

Also, don't damage yourself by playing too much!

#4 LDT

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 11:55 AM

More practice = more progress, assuming nothing else changes.

However, some practice is better than others. The more you listen and analyse your playing, the more effective will be the practice. Perhaps practising and recording yourself for one hour, and then going for an hours walk and listening to the practise session on your mp3 player, could actually be more effective than 2 hours "normal" practise?! It's certainly very easy to do these days.

When I think I got that hang of a tune I'll record myself playing and then play it back.....most of the time I'll think egh that sounds terrible....and start again. Then when I think I've got it for the 2nd time I'll record it then if I'm still not sure it sounds right post here....to get an unbiased opinion.

#5 Lawrence Reeves

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 12:48 PM

Although music is an art, and it calls upon emotion, one has to approach true "practice" as a science. Establish what you need to work on, and then systematically achieve it. Practicing is different than playing in my opinion. Here is an example of how I would sit down if for and hour to work on a new tune.
task 1) learn the melody of a tune. I prefer by ear, but abc, or musical notation can substitute.
task 2) establish any choice of buttons ( if an option). Figure your bellows directions, and desired pushes and pulls.
task 3) ornaments that enhance the melody. Cuts between common notes, or triple pressing a button, a slap triplet.
task 4) play the tune through at a slow pace, and make sure you have steady timing. This repetition is how you place the melody into your long term memory
task 5) play the new tune with another tune of same type you know very well. This makes you focus on speed and even timing. Each time you couple an old with new you reinforce the old while incorporating the new.

A very different hour of practice for me would be just executing cuts and triplets across the bellows, or adding octave doubling to the high part of a tune. Adding double stops and chords to a reel or a jig I already know through methods of learning the tune above. Or seeing if I can imporove my tone with efficiency of air.

Practicing something you already do well instead of the heart of ones problems is a common problem for many players, and although it seems like you are getting a lot of time in on the instrument, you aren't gaining much in the way of improvement.
I play either a concertina a flute or a whistle every day, and try to gain something out of every time I do so.

#6 David Levine

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 02:32 PM

When I think I got that hang of a tune I'll record myself playing and then play it back.....most of the time I'll think egh that sounds terrible.

Me too. And I've been at this music stuff longer than you've been on the face of the planet ...

#7 Simon H

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 04:28 PM

I like to vary my practice so that, as well as learning the instrument, I'm broadening my knowledge of music. So I might spend a few minutes on scales, chords, arpeggios etc. Then I might work on a new tune. Another practice might concentrate solely on getting to grips with a difficult piece from a previously learnt tune to refine it. Then it might be finding tunes in ABC and following them on the concertina picking out phrases, it might be finding a tune in one of my music books and spending a solid week working at it. Or it might be working at the piano, getting a better understanding of note relationships, intervals etc.
Lastly it might be reading on this site, soaking up knowledge about the beloved instrument, doing some maintenance, or looking on ebay at other concertinas and looking at vids on Youtube, perhaps playing along. Whilst not classed as "practice" all these things ultimately must help become a more rounded musician and keep away the boredom.

#8 Snorre

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 04:31 AM

I have a "Tune of the week" that I start and finish every practice (1 hr + a day). Last week it was "The Trip to Durrow", this week it's "The New Century". Some days I can practice seriously, other days I am just noodling, but I am serious about my tune of the week (that has usually come out of a noodling-session the week before). Sometimes it seems that "supercompensation" works: If you are used to playing every day, try NOT playing one day. I find that my senses are sharpened after a one day break.

#9 LDT

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 07:24 AM

Is there a way of improving the quality of practice?

#10 Leo

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 07:34 AM

Is there a way of improving the quality of practice?

Hi LDT

Only one way that I know of, and that is competing with only yourself and set the goal/standard for each period of time you have allotted. For instance there is a phrase I need to figure out this week. It just doesn't sound right. It may only be a couple of measures/bars, but I really want to concentrate on it. Not to the exclusion of enjoyable playing, just an emphasis for concentration.

Other people may have other goals that aren't necessarily the same as ones you set. It's not a good thing to use a comparison with another.

Thanks
Leo :)

Edited by Leo, 17 March 2009 - 11:11 AM.


#11 Azalin

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 08:55 AM

In my case, an hour of practice when I slept very well the night before, or after a nap, is worth three hours of practice when I'm very tired. But we're all different.

#12 Mike Pierceall

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 09:11 AM

So does the amount of time you practice effect the time it takes to progress?
So far I'm doing a minimum of a hour practice each day then spending all afternoon practicing (if I'm not doing anything else) on a saturday and about 2 hours on a sunday.

If I increased or decreased the amount of practice time would it affect my progress I.e. speed or slow it up?

For me, the music is the thing and not so much the instrument. I choose pieces that inspire me to learn. The skill then follows.

#13 Hereward

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 11:18 AM

Is there a way of improving the quality of practice?


People learn best at the beginning and end of any practice. That means four 15 minute sessions are better than 1 hour straight because there are more beginnings and ends.

Ian

#14 LDT

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 12:01 PM

Is there a way of improving the quality of practice?


People learn best at the beginning and end of any practice. That means four 15 minute sessions are better than 1 hour straight because there are more beginnings and ends.

Ian

I tend to take a break in between each tune on the Saturday practice marathon. :blink: Every time I take a break I go get a snack. ;)

I choose pieces that inspire me to learn. The skill then follows.

I tend to like all the difficult stuff......still waiting for my skill to catch up :P :o

sometimes it seems that "supercompensation" works: If you are used to playing every day, try NOT playing one day. I find that my senses are sharpened after a one day break.

I do find I get more progress if I rest for a couple of days. (I have to take a break for a couple of days a month each month coz I just can't play when its my TOTM ;) :blink: unless I want to risk the concertina flying across the room out the nearest window because I've got fustrated that everything I play is backwards or wrong)

Edited by LDT, 17 March 2009 - 12:01 PM.


#15 michael sam wild

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 01:38 PM

Hi LDT I think you are sticking to it very well - Cheers.

Today I dd a few hours digging on my Runner Bean trench at the allotment and pulling out the roots or rhizomes of the cursed Bindweed - 'Dead Mens' Fingers' . Then went home for a cuppa and did 3 hours playing one tune over and over and over 'cos it felt OK.
It was an Irish reel called 'Come West Along the Road' in G . I first heard it on a Frank Edgely tutorial CD then on Aogan Lynch's tutorial CD from Waltons in Dublin. By the end I was a bit bored but had got all their nuances and I will now let it go underground till it germinates in my ageing brain and I'll put in my own interpretation. Things slowly sink down and go to seed like an old potato gently sinking into the soil - then amazingly, they seem to sprout up in Spring and constantly amaze me! My motto now is ' Let it root!'

Mike

#16 tombilly

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 07:51 AM

If I increased or decreased the amount of practice time would it affect my progress I.e. speed or slow it up?


The only observation I can offer is that progress learning a musical instrument never seems to be linear. It is not the case, in my experience, that if you put in more time then you automatically get better - in fact, you can easily get worse!! The graph goes up and the graph goes down but as long as the ups last longer than the downs, you'll progress! Listening to and absorbing the type of music you want to play is just as useful when you're doing something else. Whistling or humming the tunes and keeping time with your foot is good to do. All these little things help as half the battle is knowing what you're aimimg for.

#17 Jim Van Donsel

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 09:14 AM

The graph goes up and the graph goes down but as long as the ups last longer than the downs, you'll progress!

Just like the stock market.

Oh, wait...

#18 Greg Jowaisas

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 03:41 PM

My favorites of the suggestions listed so far are:

Take a break in between practice sessions rather than making it one, long extended practice. (Something about letting the neural memory imprint. In the end we want the music to be close to autonomic)

Practice high interest material that will sustain your enthusiasm while you gain technique and skill.

I might add that for the average person competence takes a lot of time, as in duration. I'm not the most talented, nor the quickest study but I have played music continually for 40 years. It is only the last month after 5 &1/2 years of grappling with the concertina that I feel like I am starting to make some real progress and "play" the instrument. Fortunately many people are quicker in their progress. But try and adopt a long arc to for your playing goals. I hate to think what I would have missed if I had given up after only 5 &1/4 years. The best lies ahead.

Greg



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