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I know that harder parts of songs on the piano have to be practiced far more than the easy parts. I sometimes spend longer than thirty minutes on just a couple of measures because they are significantly harder than the rest of the song.

However, I have had times where I never touched the easy parts of a song until getting ready for a performance. Then those parts start to go, and I can't play them as good as before. So I have to relearn them, which only takes about thirty minutes depending on the song.

One example is Chopin's Nocturne in Eb Major Op. 9 No. 2. Measures 1 - 12 are significantly easier than the runs in measures 16 and 24. There's also measures 26 to 31 that are harder than the other parts of the song.

I spend the majority of the time practicing those hard parts, but how often should I practice the easier parts of the song? This is also a general question regarding practicing other songs too.

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    "Don't practice until you get it right; practice until you can't get it wrong." – Richard Mar 25 at 22:11
  • That makes sense, but sometimes when I leave a song I already learned for a long time, then try and play it again, I lose the ability to play it perfectly, and some things are off. This same effect has been happening to me when practicing this Nocturne. I used to play the first 12 measures perfectly, and now I'm slowing down a little bit. – Victor Resnov Mar 25 at 22:16
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It is a good plan to practise the difficult passages. But you should always keep in mind that a piece of music has an idea and is an art work, not only for the audience but also for the musician.

Music is more to me than a nice arrangement of well sounding tones, more than entertainment or enjoyment. If you consider music as a spiritual revelation of transcendence you will never play only the difficult parts, you want to play the whole art work that it can speak to you. This will may sound a little philosophical for some users but as you don’t cite only a line of poem or a psalm or as you won’t be satisfied by possessing only a part of an artist’s painting you can’t understand and perform a piece of music if you don’t play the whole piece through in each practice. This can also be reached and achieved if you think it through just mentally.

Edit:

the majority of the time practicing those hard parts, but how often should I practice the easier parts of the song?

At least once a day.

I've right now come across to another question with some interesting answer that might help you too:

Is there a way to guesstimate how long it will take me to learn a specific piece?

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    That is true, but sometimes an artist will work on one specific part of a painting longer than the rest of the image, or a poet will spend more time on a line in a poem or psalm than the rest of the poem. – Victor Resnov Mar 25 at 23:41
  • You're not really answering the question. You said that it's important to practice the whole song, but the question is how much? – Commander Continuey Mar 26 at 0:31
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    Wonderful answer! V important to remember that the unitive vision of the music is way more important than getting all the notes right. I will try and write my variations on @AlbrechtHügli answer in a bit. [Does someone have the reference : Mozart is supposed to have said he heard an entire symphony in a moment?] – Rusi Mar 26 at 2:02
  • @commander: I said at least once in each practice, that means at least once a day. And then you can rehearse it mentally when you have to wait for the train or sitting in a boring lesson or are laying in a quiet room. And in opposite to this advice I’m training the difficult parts mentally: imaging the sheet, trying to write the difficult motifs, minding the harmony, singing the motifs and phrases, playing the fingerings on the side of a chair ... not always for the pleasure of my wife. – Albrecht Hügli Mar 26 at 6:52
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What I would recommend is play the entire part of the song you're familiar with once or twice a week, including all easy and hard parts of the song. If you know the entire song, play the full song. Otherwise, play only the parts you know. Then, you can look to see where you're making mistakes and where you need to practice more. Sometimes, those parts can be the easier parts of the song.

If you don't practice the easy parts enough, you'll forget them. If you practice them too much, then you're using up time you could spend on harder sections of the song. I'm sure you are aware of this already.

Practicing the harder sections of the song is very important, but there may be a different section of the song that you thought was easy but is actually difficult. That's why you need to be familiar with the entire song.

Do not waste all your time on a specific section, whether it is hard or not. Make sure you practice all of the song, while of course making sure to practice the harder stuff more.

So, in conclusion, once or twice a week is what I would recommend.

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Considering it's a part of the site's title, I wonder if 'practice' means the same to all of us.

And how do we judge when we've 'done enough practice'?

When we (or our parents, or teachers) decide that point has been reached, what criteria are used?

Is it when we can play something flawlessly, or when we can play it without the sheet in front of us, or when we can put our own expression into it? Only to not be able to do that the very next day?

Enough philosophy - although answers would be appreciated!

Of course, the parts we find most difficult are those which need more time and effort, so will need practising more. In isolation. Certainly not starting at the top again, and floundering on that same part. Just take that part, split hands, play slowly. 10 times? 100 times? Until it can be done blindfolded? Probably until it sounds as good as the easier bits.

Ah, the easier bits. When a difficult part is satisfactory, that's the time to join it back up with the surroundings. Maybe even start at the beginning, playing through smoothly until the end of that tricky bit. Depending on how far away a performance is scheduled, the practice regime will vary. With a week to go, all the hard parts should be sorted, and the up-to-now neglected easy bits brought off simmer and onto the boil with the rest of it. They won't have been forgotten, so a short burst of heat - practice - will have them up to scratch.

As to how often - it's subjective. For me, once a month. A concert pianist, the week before the next performance. Someone with little retention, every day.

Preparing a pieces for performance is like cleaning a window. If it's pretty clear, but there's a splodge in one corner, no point in cleaning it all again - just the mucky bit. If Great Aunt is visiting next week, keep an eye on it, but do a full clean not long before she arrives.

You've answered your own question, in that if it takes 30 mins to re-kindle the easy bits, after neglecting them while you sort out the others, the question is now 'at what point do I find and use that extra 30 mins to polish the easy bits?'

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