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Over-Practicing

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by A Spotless Mind, Mar 17, 2013.


  1. A Spotless Mind

    A Spotless Mind

    Aug 18, 2009
    One thing I've come to realize about myself and my playing is that it's possible for me to over-practice or over-work a piece.

    Just yesterday I took an audition. This was a very important audition to me and all I wanted to do was to play my best. Unfortunately, I did not.

    I started to prepare for this audition way too early, got all my rep sounding really good months before the audition only to find they started to go downhill within weeks before. Because of this, I kept practicing them over and over to try to get them back to where they were. But I just couldn't do it. And what makes it worse is the same thing happened to me a year ago.

    For me, this was really upsetting and extremely frustrating but I have learned a lot from these experiences. For my sanity's sake, has this kind of situation ever happened to any one else? Working a piece up way too early only to find that it starts to get worse when the time comes to perform it? I hope I'm not the only one. Also, if anyone knows why this might have happened, please share.

    Thanks.
     
  2. notabene

    notabene

    Sep 20, 2010
    SF Bay area
    Is it possible that a "tape" recorder might disagree? The more you practice, the more you hear the piece critically. Every detail becomes important, sometimes to the detriment of the musicality of the whole.
     
  3. JPHYeoh

    JPHYeoh

    Jan 22, 2013
    Calgary
    I don't think that starting them early is necessarily a problem. Personally, the better the piece sounds, the more I simply play through it. I think the main thing is you consistently use deliberate practice as opposed to just running it through. Recording yourself will also help you out with this.
     
  4. lokikallas

    lokikallas

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    Sounds like the pressure of the actual performance got to you, so I would say its not about over preparing , but rather you controlling your nerves. If you get a little too obsessive it might be an issue you can take up with a psychiatrist. Performance anxiety is common. Relaxation techniques, or running through it with a friend watching might help.
     
  5. ekspain

    ekspain

    Feb 22, 2008
    Europe
    YES!

    Nerves can play a big part in it too. Especially for a big audition...
     
  6. A huge thumbs up to the tape recording comments!! I bet if you heard yourself playing from a few months ago you'd be shocked to see how far you've come (I do that when I feel bummed out about how much I suck). But it would also be worth taking a step back from the music for a few days and just spend that time listening to recordings and getting new ideas. Chances are its just not as fresh and exciting anymore.
     
  7. Sonicfrog

    Sonicfrog Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2008
    Fresno, CA
    Yep. In trying to get it "perfect", you do end up stressing out too much on it. Then when you make even the slightest error, maybe hold a note just a millisecond too long, you start to lose the whole thing because you get frustrated. When I'm playing a new song, even if I play it almost "perfect" at home, I'll probably mnot play it as well on the first performance because I'll be focused on every little glitch instead of just letting things flow.
     
  8. SBassS

    SBassS

    Mar 9, 2013
    My (brilliant, IMO :)) high school piano teacher always warned us to alter our practice once we had a piece "performance ready". Practice 3 times SLOW to every 1 time up to tempo. Occasionally play it way too fast. This helps keep our brain/hand coordination from "skipping over" passages we know by heart. She called it "brain hiccups" Be sure to continually focus on artistic expression, and even different musical interpretations.

    HTH
     
  9. ThomClaire

    ThomClaire

    Dec 31, 2012
    Asheville, NC
    I read an article awhile back (can't remember where I saw it) about the differences between practicing and playing. He was saying that when practices, say, a scale, he'll give every little bit of attention to every note, making sure everything is perfect, the curve of the left hand, the pressure of the left band's thumb, the initial bow attack, whether or not the tone was even throughout the bow, making sure the right hand is relaxed, how much weight etc? He said the trick is to note this as practice, and the reason we do this is so when we get on stage (to play) there's no need to think about all the technical nuances, only the music.

    When I played piano I had an audition and one of my pieces was Clair de lune, one we all know. I had the technical side down pat a month before the audition and spent the rest of my time practicing the musicality... My hands took care of the technical side on their own. Once I showed up to the audition, I played flawlessly (at least in my opinion) because all of the technical nuances were worked out AND I had already played it in so many different ways, and heard so many different performances (youtube is your best friend) that I knew exactly how I wanted it to sound.
     
  10. Yep, it's overpractising allright. It's when you start repeating, and after a while it becomes mindlessly playing, and that's where the errors slip in. Then you just focus on them and frustratedly play through stuff never getting anywhere.

    I recently avoided this at college auditions by making sure I Practised the pieces with metronome, and occationally play through them (with a steady focus on what I'm doing AND what I'm accedentally doing). As soon as I feel the slightest unfocused I pause, or do something else, or just re-focus. Playing the pieces with a metronome sloooowly will help you avoid running on autopilot and getting lost, as you force yourself to focus on every note, every shift, every bow stroke.
     

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