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#1 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 12:50

There is a small section in a piece I'm learning (4-part hymn) that my brain, for some reason, can't cope with and nothing seems to work.

 

For weeks now I've tried, approaching from sections either side that are secure:

  1. playing at a v-e-r-y s-l-o-w tempo and being very strict in not trying to increase the tempo until secure
  2. As (1) but trying to get my fingers in position as quickly as possible
  3. As (1) but playing in reverse
  4. As (2) but playing in reverse
  5. Hands separately
  6. One part in each hand and permuting the parts
  7. Parts separately
  8. Transposing the section into different keys in the hope this might help
  9. Speaking the chord names loudly while playing
  10. Not looking at the keyboard while playing
  11. Looking at the keyboard while playing
  12. Playing dotted rhythms (short-long and long-short)
  13. Playing staccato
  14. Playing staccatissimo
  15. Singing each part
  16. Repeating each beat a number of times (4-8) before moving to the next
  17. Listening to the section played correctly on repeat for a hour (!!!)
  18. Various permutations of all of the above!

Yet nothing seems to work!  When I feel very secure (step 1) the moment I add in an extra beat or bar (preceding or following) at the same slow tempo, my brain freezes up and it fails.

 

Any ideas?  This is getting a quite upsetting now.


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#2 BadStrad

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 13:26

You have probably tried this, but just in case... Have you tried just playing the two transition notes (or how ever many in that part of the chord) eg last note(s) of bar X and first note(s) of bar x+1 getting them really comfortable then add the previous note. Get that trio comfortable then add the note after. And so on working outwards.
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#3 fsharpminor

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 14:52

Four part hymns come naturally to some, but others , even good pianists struggle.   One notorious one is the tune 'Wolvercote', though it doesnt bother me. There are a few others as well.  But as an experienced organist I cant really advise unless I know what tune it is.


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#4 corenfa

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 14:57

Give it a rest for a few weeks but continue to work on other 4 part stuff. You may well find that your brain has made the internal changes it needs in those weeks off. This has happened to me before.
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#5 vron

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 16:10

my vote would be for having a week off from it  too. It has become a big issue in your mind  now and your brain need a rest from it.


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#6 corenfa

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 18:54

Absolutely the last thing you should do in this state is force yourself to do more and get frustrated. I used to do this. It does not work. A break- while still working on other things- has always worked.
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#7 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 20:04

OK. Advice taken; I'll leave it for a while. :angry2:

 

Thanks.


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#8 VincentN

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Posted 06 July 2020 - 23:33

Strangely enough, I have met a rather talented young organist, who got her grade 8 from stretch in about a year, but it took almost an hour for her to learn a hymn (just to a standard for a school service). 


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#9 EllieD

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Posted 07 July 2020 - 07:00

I'd be over the moon if it only took me an hour to learn a hymn!!  :)

 

LF - if you could let us know exactly what bit it is you're struggling with, I may be able to have some ideas? I don't find hymns easy either, so I could try having a go at the bit you find tricky and see how I tackle it? Might help. Though agree with the others, if it's just a brain impasse, a bit of a break should help!


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#10 corenfa

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 18:47

I just realised that there are awkward bits in my music that have taken me 2 years to properly get. I don't say this to imply it is going to take you 2 years to learn your hymn, but rather that there is a lot of learning that happens in the background and one day it can just happen that the awkward bit is easy.
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#11 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 22:30

Don't hate me:  I cheated and learned a different arrangement of the demon chord, which sounds OK to me but no doubt is breaking some doubling or parallel movement rule for 4-part harmony! :blink:


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#12 Dreamaurora

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Posted 16 July 2020 - 06:28

Being a pianist for a traditional Methodist service, I am familiar with plenty of 4 part hymns. Many of these hymns are not written with piano in mind and many of them are downright unpianistic. Plenty of even Grade 8 pianists struggle with reading them and I see that you are still working towards your Grade 5, so don't fuss so much yet. 

 

Remember that you don't have to play all the notes, the most important is to keep the top melody and bass line going. If the harmonic rhythm is very fast, often it can be simplified to just one or two chords per bar. 


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#13 corenfa

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Posted 16 July 2020 - 10:03

Don't hate me: I cheated and learned a different arrangement of the demon chord, which sounds OK to me but no doubt is breaking some doubling or parallel movement rule for 4-part harmony! :blink:


I think that is an excellent idea. My teacher always told me that if we are playing to accompany or anything else where we aren't the focus of the performance, that we should do whatever is necessary to get a good musical result for the circumstances.
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#14 AdLibitum

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Posted 16 July 2020 - 10:57

Don't hate me: I cheated and learned a different arrangement of the demon chord, which sounds OK to me but no doubt is breaking some doubling or parallel movement rule for 4-part harmony! :blink:

I think that is an excellent idea. My teacher always told me that if we are playing to accompany or anything else where we aren't the focus of the performance, that we should do whatever is necessary to get a good musical result for the circumstances.
My harp teacher says in such circumstances "if in doubt, leave it out!".
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#15 LoneM

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Posted 16 July 2020 - 14:17

When we were learning as children, our teachers insisted that we played what was on the page, for good reason. But now we're adults 'cheating' is a legitimate technique!


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