PracticePrompt Blog

Train Wreck: part two – Getting it Back

Posted in Repertoire Building and Maintenance by elwynrees on November 22, 2009

I hadn’t played a piece for more than 4 months ( the Bach-Busoni Chorale prelude Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme [Awake! The Voice commands], BWV 645). 

On the first attempt I struggled to remember any of it. See the   Train Wreck article for full details.   Well I have now worked it up again and have the details of how much time  effort this took….

A recording of this piece was submitted to the Piano World ABF forum recital #15 and it hasn’t been played since.  The piece has been relearnt using all the information available from the first time around and currently it is playable from  memory end-to-end at a moderate tempo.  

The breakdown of time (mins) and days was:

The first couple of days I was trying to decypher my notes, section breaks and so forth.  I should have made much more detailed notes of the fingering in particular.

The count of individual tasks studied was:

 The second section (bars 13-20) seemed to require a lot of review.  I tried not to cut any corners and worked logically through the hard phrases first then the hard bars/sections then the sections.  I’ve only played it through fully (but from memory) during the last couple of days.

The total time (mins) on each task was:


So it has come back together in 9.5 hours and 9 practice days.   This contrasts well with the first time around (nearly 70 hours in 70 days of practice over more than 4 months).

The first time around  there  was little time to consollidate the work on this piece.  So the plan now is to run this piece through the full 1-2-4-Memory rule, starting tomorrow with a 1-day break away from the piece (next week 2-days and the week after 4-days etc).  I also want to continue work on the 3 hardest phrases (left hand mordants) that I find very awkward, and so hope to develop further drills and exercises to this end.

Summary:  This “train wreck” non-maintained piece has been brought back  with approximately 15% of  the effort  spent learning it the first time (both days of practice and total time).  Whilst this might  seem to be an admirable return on the initial investment, I would hope that if properly maintained the effort required to just relearn the notes, might have been better used improving technique, phrasing and interpretation.  But overall this has been a very interesting exercise.


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  1. […] I found it interesting how quickly it came back.   This was in sharp contrast to the “train wreck” articles  where one piece (Bach-Buson, Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme [Awake! The Voice […]

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