How do I avoid getting stuck after learning one part?

I have included a picture because that would really help me explain.

I have been practicing and struggled with this part for a few days. I have asked people to listen to it and was told to improve stability in my left hand.

I still have a bit of trouble with my left hand, but now the problem is when I reach the part I circled in the picture, the left hand is supposed to play the same notes but the right hand is changing.

In theory this shouldn't be hard because I am playing part of the beginning again but I have tried multiple times and I either end up playing the previous part despite wanting to continue (I feel like I have trouble telling my hands what to do).

Or I end up mixing the previous part and slurring the new part together.

I know that playing the piano requires a lot of practice. But I am starting to feel that I have hit a roadblock. I have practiced a lot and this part is usually where I end up and I'm unable to continue.

Comments for How do I avoid getting stuck after learning one part?

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Answer
by: Maria

Hi there,
This is a good question and very useful, since many, many pianists experience the same practice problem!

First of all, after looking at your piece, I notice that it's very important with good fingering.

Since you have nothing written in the score, I suggest you write a good fingering that you'll then stick to. This makes it a lot easier to put some things on "auto pilot" as you learn new parts.

As for your problem spot, try to play RH fingers 3&1 on the third. Continue with 1 2 3 on the next three notes, then 2 3 (depending on where the melody continues). This will make it easy to play smoothly in your RH.

Secondly, divide your piece in sections. For example: first 3 measures, then 4 measures, 4 measures (thirds), 4 measures (with LH), then 3 1/2 measures. This is where your problem place starts.

The difficulty here is that all of a sudden you have an upbeat of two eight notes at the same time your LH changes position. And even if you have played it before, it was in another context.

Practice each of the sections you divided only until they are OK. Then don't practice them until you have learned your "stumbling block" - at all!

So, as you practice each section- never start from the beginning of the piece, but teach yourself to start right at the new section.

I know it's tempting, but keeping on polishing things we already know makes it harder and harder to continue with new parts.

To practice the circled area, start by playing your right hand 4 times only those 2 measures, then the left hand at least 4 times.

Make sure you use good fingering. Now combine both hands, but play only 1/2 the tempo you can play easily hands separately.

Do this at least 4 times (only this section).

You can also play the first measure that you circled, then stop on the first note in the second, since this is a spot that might be tricky, so it'll need some extra polish.

Generally, all pieces have easier parts and harder parts. Think of them as temporary obstacles, that you'll "grind down" to smoothness by practicing only that section until fluent.

The problem many beginning pianists have is to always start from the beginning of the piece, and "indulge" in playing what's already easy.

Yes, we're human, and it's more fun. But in this way the obstacles become even more uncomfortable to overcome.

Sometimes we have to work a little more focused on a spot (I call it spot practice) to be able to enjoy playing the whole piece sooner!

I have written an article here, with good tips on how to practice a new piece that might help you:
Reading piano music with ease

I hope this helped!

Happy practicing,
Maria

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