The opening of the first movement.Image via Wikipedia

So now we’re at “B” in “The ABC’s of Practicing.” What do you do next?

You’ve figured out how to play the right hand of the first phrase reasonably well, under tempo. Good! Now you have a melody to work with.

You may want to try adding the left hand. How complicated does it seem? If it’s too dense (too many notes to deal with right away), you could play part of it.

Try the bass line. Now you have the basis for the harmony you’re going to fill in later.

Next, you could play the tune and the bass together. You’ll want to have a slower tempo than you had for each hand alone. (Feeling cross-eyed? You can look back and forth, remember one part or the other, or… get used to it.)

If the left hand is busy, that is, with lots of notes noodling along, now you can add a little at a time. Sometimes it’s fairly easy to play chords, taking chord tones out of what is written in the left hand and stacking them up vertically.

That works well with the left hand in the musical example above.

Another thought I had last night: when you’re comparing the opening of the piece with the same music when it comes back later, look to see if both sections end the same way. Sometimes the only difference in a repeated section will be how the composer continues. He may be changing key, for example.

So then, the only new notes you need to learn are the different endings! Now you know a lot more of the piece than you’d thought!

And remember to practice the middle section that’s different, as well as the ending. You’ll be happier if you begin some practice sessions at those spots, rather than always starting at the beginning.

And with that, I took a day off today! Slept in, no practice, no exercise. Caught up w/The New York Times.

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