What is your process to perfecting a piece?

What is your process to perfecting a piece?    03:45 on Wednesday, April 10, 2019          

(1 point)
Posted by tony77

Hello everyone,

Lately, I have realized that I tend to try and learn a lot of songs without really bothering to perfect them (I understand to us musicians, there's really no such thing as perfect, but you know what I mean). I have a competition that I intend to play for this November and I want to completely solidify my ability to play my piece by then. However, at my level, I am ashamed of what little I know about theory and my lack of technique. So, I come to the helpful community of Reddit asking how it goes about perfecting pieces. Any suggestions would be helpful. Also, please try to refrain from using "music words" since I suck at theory (I really really should know theory by now) and probably won't understand. Just explain it like you're explaining your methods to a toddler and you should be good. If any of you have some good resources on theory that are relatively simple, I would love to have those as well. Thanks so much! ✌️

Re: What is your process to perfecting a piece?    05:12 on Friday, April 12, 2019          

(660 points)
Posted by Scotch

Re: "Just explain it like you're explaining your methods to a toddler and you should be good."

Yeah, well, I don't know any toddlers who have perfected any pieces of music. I teach piano to a fair number of very young students. They progress, but none have ever played a piece at a professional level, and I don't expect them to.

The other problem here is that the very best (adult) pianists I know always thoroughly analyze pieces before they perform them in public. This is a pretty much essential part of preparing a piece at a full musical level, and it necessarily involves theory. If you want to skip theory, you pretty much have to skip "perfection" too.

In short you're asking the impossible. Your request contradicts itself.

Re: What is your process to perfecting a piece?    19:49 on Tuesday, April 23, 2019          

(15 points)
Posted by pianowillbebach

1) Record yourself. Doesn't have to be anything fancy - just use your phone and listen.
2) Play in front of others (like a friend or family member). It'll get you comfortable playing in front of people. Also, play measures, phrases, or sections different ways and ask them what they like the sound of the best.
3) Use a metronome (you can download an app on your phone) and practice with that to get the timing down.
4) Play it quite a while for a few days, then take a breather. Play other music for a day or two, then come back to it.
5) You might like to listen to other recordings (if available). This is never something I like to go out of my way to do, but it works for a lot of people.
6) If there are words, markings, or symbols in your music, look them up, find out what they mean.

Re: What is your process to perfecting a piece?    21:15 on Saturday, September 21, 2019          

(76 points)
Posted by tmheimer

People have different methods when preparing to perform a piece. Some are specific routines, some are mental approaches, etc. I don't think there is any one really good way that always works. Obviously you want to be sure you have the capability both technically and musically to tackle the piece. Then tear it apart, even bar by bar. Get the technique down, especially the hardest spots, so you're not worrying about them come time to perform it. Then address what you want to do musically with it--dynamics, tempos, tempo changes, etc. Then repeat all this a gazillion times. I'm not one who believes you can "over practice" a piece. That's what works for me anyway.


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