I'm always telling my students that just 10 minutes a day of practice will make all of the difference in their playing. My students do not really believe me, so I decided to prove my theory by learning a Chopin Etude in just 10 minutes a day (so I'm not just saying "do as I say, not as I do", but "do as I say and as I do too"). I will perform the piece for my students on their recital on March 1, 2009.
I began this experiment on February 2, and I've chosen to study Chopin's Etude "The Butterfly" Opus 25, No. 9.
First I slowly read through the piece hands together. Then I began to formulate a practice plan.
For me the left hand part will be more difficult that the right, because of the leaps and there are more notes (!)
1. practice the left hand alone every day
2. bring the left hand up to tempo right away / practice 4 - 8 bars up to tempo
Try not to start at the beginning every day
1. start at the "end" one day, then the "beginning" the next day
2. only work on sections / 4-8 bars a day
Slowly put the hands together
1. I found uncomfortable stretches for my right hand - then because I was slow, I realized that I was not bringing my arm over with my hand
2. Play lightly - sometimes when I'm slow I tend to use too much arm weight / think light butterflies fluttering from note to note
Memorize as I learn
1. I heard about this technique at the Portland Piano Festival last summer (July 2008). It was a tip from pianist Hans Boepple. Learn the first measure and play from memory. When the memory is secure memorize the second measure and then play the first two measures from memory, repeat until the piece is memorized
2. Analyze the harmony / this helps with memory and quick note learning
This is my strategy for this week. By next Monday, all the notes will be learned, the left hand part will be up to tempo, the whole piece will be played hands together at a medium speed, and some parts will be memorized.