Practice and Retiring as Repertoire Grows
Sherrie A., Utah
1) How do practice requirements change through the foundation levels? Level one is 15-20 minutes, but as their repertoire grows, it would seem they need more time to keep everything alive and also with the addition of multiple streams and songs getting more complicated.
2) How do you know when to retire a song? I’m only trained in levels 1-3 and multiple streams, so I’m not clear what songs need to be kept from the foundation levels for future use and also if all the songs in all the streams need to be kept alive and practiced. How do you manage that as far as what is kept on their play list so they can keep them alive?
Heidi M., Canada
One thing I have my students do for accompaniment songs in different keys (Auld Lang Syne, Amazing Grace, Danny Boy etc) is eventually they just do it in one key per day… since not much is different in the different key (except other chords, but same rhythm and concepts) and eventually all of them once a week and then twice a month. A song (Foundation or otherwise) has to be very easily and fluidly played before we can cut back to doing it less frequently. My Foundation 4 students are practicing half an hour daily and we have regular communication on how to make sure that practice time stays within the limits of what their family circumstances allow, etc.
Maureen K., California
I require them to keep alive current Foundation songs, Foundation songs and improv exercises they will need for the future, and songs they like. Others I allow them to retire.
I encourage them to keep arrangements and variations alive (they get recognition for these) but don’t require it.
F1-F3 songs most important for the future, IMHO, are Night Storm, Jackson Blues, Honey Dew, Bishop Street Blues, Amazing Grace (till they get further into Accomp program), Fur Elise, Star Spangled, She’ll Be Coming Round. I’m sure others might argue with me on this list.
I vary on how many Accomp songs they keep alive—It’s important that they somehow are getting lots of Accomp experience.
I calculate with students the size of their PL and how many songs they need to practice each day to make it through everything in a week. Better practicers can maintain longer PLs.
Stephen R., California
Maureen Karpan Why She’ll Be Comin’ Round and no Alma Mater or Light Blue? Light Blue LH is used in the Gaz. Walking w/ Billy is also the stepping stone to Billy at the Footy in Level 4. Tear for a Friend introduces Alberti Bass LH used in Sonata in C. Very important LH pattern to know. Family Tree moves the CAGE chords lower used in Squidgies Boogie. So, some of what’s introduced in Level 3 is built upon in Level 4. Maybe you can share your reasoning?
Maureen K., California
Yes absolutely agreed, Stephen. They need to keep AMB till they make it through all three, and most students love it, but if they want to retire it after F2, I won’t say no. LB LH is used in some arrangements too so they need somehow to stay comfortable with that LH pattern. It’s rare that they would try to retire Walking before Footy because they have to keep Walking alive till end of F3 and Footy is not long after that. It’s all a judgment call for me, involving how long the student’s PL is and what they are able to manage. I guess those are the no-negotiations songs I won’t let them leave behind.
Mark M., New York
With the Play It Forward system optimally used, it’s possible to maintain an indefinitely growing playlist while only having to practice current projects plus roughly 10 +/- extra pieces on average each day. We don’t need extra time to practice an increasing linguistic vocabulary, and the same is true of music. With music broken into particular projects in a repertoire, it just takes a bit more in the way of logistics to manage the process.
Sherrie A., Utah
Are you saying that even in level 5 the practice requirement is still 15-20 min? And that is without retiring a single piece? Does this include all the music from all the other streams? (Accompaniment, variations, arrangements, comp and improv)
Mark M, New York
Separate from PIF, talking generally: I believe the 15-20 minutes was always intended for current projects only, with repertoire practice being beyond that. Also, the 15-20 is a recommendation for the early stages of the program. Sheri Reingold has a “P i a n o S t u d i o P r a c t i c e Guidelines” handout (not sure where?) that suggests how that amount of time may increase over time as new streams and such are added in, with specific recommendations about how many minutes each day/week/month to practice different things. As for PIF, I can tell you that, yes, even well beyond Foundation 5, with only a very small number of appropriately retired pieces, and including every key for Amazing Grace / Auld Lang Syne / Danny Boy / Jackson Blues / B&I 1357 improvisations, I was able to use PIF with my daughter to successfully keep the entire repertoire alive with daily practice being current projects plus, on average 8-12 other pieces.
Kerry Verdon, Australia
I tell my students that practice time will always be 15 – 20 mins. However, playing time will make it extended to keep the songs alive. Practice is the ‘head’ work, so to speak and the playing time is to keep them alive, advance on them, improv etc.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
1 – Neil says I believe in TFMM that once students are reading confidently, they should be allowed to choose what repertoire to keep in the playlist
2 – In the earlier levels, I retire songs when I feel they no longer add value to the playlist – e.g:
* Amazing Grace in L3 – it is on the PL in the Acc program
* Jackson Blues in L4 – foundational blues piece; now they have several blues pieces in the repertoire
* Honey Dew in L4 – foundational Acc piece; they’ve learned 3 arr. and are in Acc 1
Original discussion started November 14, 2018