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Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: TrapperJohn] #1317439
12/03/09 11:50 AM
12/03/09 11:50 AM
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Netherlands
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John,

Maybe 'perfectly' was a bit strong. But in my opinion it's dangerous to start doing 'interesting things' to songs if you are not able to play them in the 'basic' way. You run the risk of confusing 'artistic freedom' with 'lack of basic technique'

And playing constant tempo is more difficult then one thinks. I guess that's why so many people hate the metronome. I know from myself, for example that I have a tendency to speed up the easy parts of a song, while slowing down on the more complex bits. Of course I can sell that to myself as interesting rubato, or creative playing, but it's not bad to play with the metronome on to find out such things. I honestly don't notice without (although I do hear it when I listen to my kids learning new pieces, they do exactly the same, isn't that funny!)

And being able to play strict tempo is a good thing to be able to do, since some pieces require it to sound well..

Of course I mess around with pieces, play them too fast, too slow, exaggerate, whatever. But keeping in mind that I want to develop a certain level of technical skills on which all that 'playing around' is based. Like my teacher tells me that you have to be able to play a 'swing' piece evenly, or a fast piece very slow. Not being able to do that means that something is lacking in the basis. So that's why I try to do those kind of metronome and other exercises and 'checks' on a regular basis.

Ingrid (keeping in mind of course that its a hobby, not a profession. But in a slightly weird way I do like the annoying exercises as well. At least, as long as I see progress)

Last edited by IngridT; 12/03/09 11:51 AM.
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Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: TrapperJohn] #1317442
12/03/09 11:58 AM
12/03/09 11:58 AM
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nancy_w Offline
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Originally Posted by John Frank
Originally Posted by IngridT
On the metronome: I'm not a big fan either, but it is good to at least be able to stick to it when necessary. I agree with Undone & Mak...artistic freedom only comes into the picture once you know how to play something perfectly 'as written'

Ingrid


If you can "hit the ground running", why must you learn to crawl and then walk first?

Nobody plays anything "perfectly as written". But, why must you play a piece as written before you can attempt, or are "allowed" to play it the "non-written" way? Tell that to a jazz pianist. Tell that to one of the Great Composers (good luck finding a way).

Even the great composers never played their own works the same way twice - there was lots of variations and improvisations, including with tempo - maybe especially with tempo.
... snip ...



I think the main difference here is that I want to be able to first play it as it was most likely intended, to get a feel for how that sounds while I'm playing, before I decide where I might want to change. I believe in the long run this will give me more control over my piano playing. Instead of just winging it - and hoping what I'm playing sounds good to myself and others, I follow the 'rules' first, then toss the rules out (sometimes).

Since I'm learning as an adult I still feel I struggle with the "musicality" of playing the piano; and always cringe at my first couple of attempts at any song when I'm hunting out the right keys and tempo and dynamics are all off - it doesn't sound like a song at all. Once I practice a song to the point that I can hear what should come next and I can speed up/slow down a song at will, then I feel I've mastered it to see what changes I might want to make.

One of the drawbacks to the work I did in the Alfred's books was that very rarely did I spend enough time with a song to get it to that point. Usually it was a week on the song, get it good enough and move on. I feel like that had a place in my learning and I'm glad I did it, but with the songs I'm working on now - I'm spending a lot more time and getting much more mastery over how I play them.

Just my thoughts on the matter smile

-Nancy

Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Course Book #3 [Re: Mark...] #1317466
12/03/09 12:18 PM
12/03/09 12:18 PM
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I take piano lessons at a community college. In the beginning of class my teacher would play a song and then tells us to play it. When we are ready, we show the teacher. That is the only time we get individual attention from the teacher. My teacher doesn't really emphasize the theory aspect in the Alfred's series. Also, we don't play every single piece in the book; we only play a song or two in each section in the book where we learn new things. He doesn't expect us to perfect the piece and I feel as if the teacher allows some of my bad habits to persist.
I'd hate to think that my teacher is bad. But is this part of the experience of playing piano, the self-teaching aspect to it?

Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Course Book #3 [Re: magicalfingers09] #1317579
12/03/09 02:30 PM
12/03/09 02:30 PM
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Massachusetts
Waltz Offline
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I'm playing a piece that has 6 notes in a single beat. It appears to me as through it is a "double triplet" and has a small "6" written above the notes. I generally counted a triplet as "trip-a-let".

How should I count these double triplets?

Thanks,


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Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: TrapperJohn] #1317641
12/03/09 03:43 PM
12/03/09 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by John Frank
Whole note next to eighth note - this is an example of "two-part writing", or a doulble part to be played together by the LH in this case (more often than not you'll see this in the RH part) - play the whole/eighth note combo at the same time with the same finger and hold this for the entire measure while playing the "upper" LH notes with other LH fingers as indicated - a compositional technique that adds depth and harmony to the part.

Last measure - yes, play all of the eighth notes RH - it's simply easier to notate them on the lower staff than to use a series of ledger lines under the upper staff - but sometimes you will see a passage like this written with the ledger lines, as long as the notes don't go too far down.

JF


Thanks for the reply. So without the ledger lines I am looking at middle C ? Because I noticed when they put ledger lines I am actually going down into the LH territory with the right hand.

Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: IngridT] #1317802
12/03/09 06:48 PM
12/03/09 06:48 PM
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New Hampshire, USA
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(
Originally Posted by IngridT
But in my opinion it's dangerous to start doing 'interesting things' to songs if you are not able to play them in the 'basic' way. You run the risk of confusing 'artistic freedom' with 'lack of basic technique'

And playing constant tempo is more difficult then one thinks. I guess that's why so many people hate the metronome. I know from myself, for example that I have a tendency to speed up the easy parts of a song, while slowing down on the more complex bits. Of course I can sell that to myself as interesting rubato, or creative playing, but it's not bad to play with the metronome on to find out such things. I honestly don't notice without


I think everyone does this (I certainly do, and that is one of the places I find the metronome most valuable), and it can be a hard habit to unlearn if you don't train yourself from the start.

Quote
And being able to play strict tempo is a good thing to be able to do, since some pieces require it to sound well.


And it is invaluable if you ever have the opportuinty to play with someone else. You have to be able to keep a strict tempo with the other musician(s). Of course there is a place for playing with the tempo and "feel" of a piece, but there is also a place for tools like the metronome in making one a better musician.


-Mak

1889 Mason & Hamlin screwstringer upright
Kawai MP-4 digital

---------------------------
When life hands you lemons, throw them back and add some of your own. Stupid life.
Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: bobjr] #1317810
12/03/09 06:57 PM
12/03/09 06:57 PM
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[quote=bobjr
Thanks for the reply. So without the ledger lines I am looking at middle C ? Because I noticed when they put ledger lines I am actually going down into the LH territory with the right hand. [/quote]

Yes, it is middle C#, and the right hand does play in the bass clef in several places in that Prelude. It's not uncommon, really. The notion of "right hand territory" and "left hand territory" can be kind of fluid with piano, since there is so much territory you can cover. There are pieces where both hands are primarily playing in the treble or both in the bass. It more depends on how the piece is written.


-Mak

1889 Mason & Hamlin screwstringer upright
Kawai MP-4 digital

---------------------------
When life hands you lemons, throw them back and add some of your own. Stupid life.
Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: IngridT] #1317880
12/03/09 09:18 PM
12/03/09 09:18 PM
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OldFingers Offline
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Originally Posted by IngridT

And playing constant tempo is more difficult then one thinks. I guess that's why so many people hate the metronome. I know from myself, for example that I have a tendency to speed up the easy parts of a song, while slowing down on the more complex bits.


Ingrid, I feel like a little bit of a "lurker" (if that's a word) as I'm no longer working on Alfred's 3 but do follow the discussion from time to time. In this case I was interested in the exchange regarding the use of the metronome as I had just had my hands slapped (not really) by my teacher for getting out of time. I was trying to play a very "swingy" piece, "I'm Beginning to See the Light", that had a lot of notes occurring on the swinging "ands". I thought I was doing a great job, but after I had played it my teacher circled three large areas where I had completely blown the timing, even though it had sounded great to me. At this he brought out the dreaded metronome, slowed everything down, and had me count "one and-two and-three, ..." through the whole piece. On doing this, I found it very hard to actually play the notes where they were supposed to be played, which was essential to giving the piece the correct feeling. Try playing the notes of a scale on the swinging "ands", or try playing isolated notes on "ands". Anyway, after having done that for a week, he then told me to set the counting aside and strive for the feeling that the timing was trying to convey. Tricky stuff!

My teacher told me that he exposes his young students to the metronome very early so they can establish a steady count in their heads. I envy them, as I find that very difficult to achieve. Once I turn off the metronome, if I get the piece right it's because of so many repetitions, not because I have the imaginary counter clicking away in my head. I think this is one area where I suffer the most from not having had good instruction early in my life.

It is probably obvious to everyone who has worked with the metronome that you really have to know the piece well before you can work with it. Otherwise you stumble, slow down, lose the time, and become very very frustrated.

I hope you Alfred's threes don't mind me "lurking" about.

Bob


Aspiring Retirement Home Lounge Pianist
Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: OldFingers] #1318083
12/04/09 08:14 AM
12/04/09 08:14 AM
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Posts: 415
USA, CT
Undone Offline
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Originally Posted by OldFingers

I hope you Alfred's threes don't mind me "lurking" about.

Bob


Not at all OldFingers, please continue to do so.

One other thought on the whole metronome issue; IrishMak mentioned “it is invaluable if you ever have the opportunity to play with someone else”, now that I think about it, that’s probably why I have a strong inclination to stick to the music “as written”. In my youth I was in numerous bands, orchestras, and other musical ensembles (with other instruments, not the piano). Just imagine everyone trying to express their own interpretation of a piece in such a group! smile

Undone


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Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: Undone] #1318093
12/04/09 08:52 AM
12/04/09 08:52 AM
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Chocolatetown, USA
TrapperJohn Offline
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Originally Posted by Undone
Just imagine everyone trying to express their own interpretation of a piece in such a group! smile

Undone


A prospect or tendency usually frowned upon rather ominously by the leader/conductor laugh

However, this does happen - in a certain way to a certain extent - in long standing jazz combos, for example, where the individual veteran members pretty much "go off on their own" simultaneously while holding approximately to the set tempo of the moment, which thru years of experience they automatically "sense" without having to think about it at all.

The individual interpretation aspects I was referring to were in relation to an individual pianist (or other instrumental soloist) with a few years and some experience "under the belt".

I admit that I was "pushing the envelope" a little to stress a particular and important point here about interpretation. But while the need for a metronome may be necessary for some (but certainly not all) students to ultimately instill an automatic timing sense that one can use and rely on - and I concede that it is - at a certain point (say by the time a student reaches Alfred 3) the need for such a "training device' should have disappeared for most such students (and the rhythmic difficulty of a given piece should not make a difference here).

JF


Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on. Frederic Chopin

Current favorite bumper sticker: Wag more, bark less.
Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: TrapperJohn] #1318595
12/04/09 09:05 PM
12/04/09 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by John Frank
- at a certain point (say by the time a student reaches Alfred 3) the need for such a "training device' should have disappeared for most such students


Ah, John, you certainly know how to hurt a guy. I've finished Alfred 3 and I still have need for a "training device". I don't know if I would have developed a "mental metronome" had I had better instruction when I was very young, but trying to develop it at this time in my life is very, very difficult. To my mind you are indeed fortunate to have cultivated that ability. Did you work at it, or it did it just come naturally to you by playing many pieces?


Aspiring Retirement Home Lounge Pianist
Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: OldFingers] #1318803
12/05/09 08:49 AM
12/05/09 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by OldFingers
... To my mind you are indeed fortunate to have cultivated that ability. Did you work at it, or it did it just come naturally to you by playing many pieces?


Yes smile

OldFingers - I got to thinking about what I had written later (I was actually out on the golf course) and just had this hunch that I might hear from one or more of you guys raising a polite objection... I guess you wouldn't buy it if I said that I had really meant to say Alfred 4 ... laugh

JF


Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on. Frederic Chopin

Current favorite bumper sticker: Wag more, bark less.
Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: TrapperJohn] #1318866
12/05/09 12:05 PM
12/05/09 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by John Frank
I guess you wouldn't buy it if I said that I had really meant to say Alfred 4 ... laugh

John, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, but it doesn't matter anyway as I'm ready for Alfred 4 and I still don't have the mental metronome. I'll plod along anyway.

Piano one day, golf the next. You've taken on tough hobbies. What did you shoot?

Regards, Bob


Aspiring Retirement Home Lounge Pianist
Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: OldFingers] #1319068
12/05/09 05:27 PM
12/05/09 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by OldFingers
John, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, but it doesn't matter anyway as I'm ready for Alfred 4 and I still don't have the mental metronome. I'll plod along anyway.

Regards, Bob


Bob - actualy, I was trying to "give you the benefit of the doubt" - sometimes we find it difficult to give ourselves enough credit for our skills and abilities and accomplishments, especially where and when they are hard-earned and well-deserved - somehow I think at this point in your piano studies you've developed a higher and more refined internal sense of rhythm and timing, a "mental metronome" as you say, than you're willing to acknowledge for yourself - and something tells me that you're doing much more than just "plodding along".

JF

Edited to add that I shot 102 - my best effort to date in my budding alternative fantasy career.

Last edited by John Frank; 12/05/09 05:29 PM.

Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on. Frederic Chopin

Current favorite bumper sticker: Wag more, bark less.
Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: TrapperJohn] #1319095
12/05/09 06:18 PM
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John, I think to a certain extent you are right, in that there has been some development of an "internal sense of rhythm and timing" that has developed as I worked through the pieces in Alfred's 3. But like everything else, golf and piano especially, taking things to the next level, as they say, reveals weaknesses in the fundamentals. In my case, trying to learn the "jazzy" rhythms in the Lee Evans' books is pushing me to the edge of my ability. I find it very hard to play a note on an isolated swinging "and". One of the things I really like about my teacher is that he doesn't let me away with anything, rhythm and timing especially. That's when he pulls out the metronome and we slow down and count carefully. I dare say, that as long as I take lessons, there will always be a need for the metronome.

I was once in the grip of the gods of golf having gotten down to a five handicap, but I couldn't play at that level consistently and I gave it up in frustration. Now I go out and kick the ball around and it is much better. Be happy with your 102.

BTW, I had listened to your recording in the recent ABF recital and was very impressed with the musicality in your playing, which is not something I had heard in your earlier work. I think you probably know me well enough to know that I'm not trying to be nice, I really was impressed.

Bob


Aspiring Retirement Home Lounge Pianist
Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: OldFingers] #1319480
12/06/09 11:42 AM
12/06/09 11:42 AM
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Hey Gang, I finally got around to uploading some of my Alfred Book 3 pieces to BoxNet. So just to show that I haven’t been goofing off recently, here they are:

Serenade from String Quartet Op. 3 No. 5

Swan Lake

Scheherazade

Steal Away

Come Back to Sorrento


Undone


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Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: OldFingers] #1319493
12/06/09 11:57 AM
12/06/09 11:57 AM
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Chocolatetown, USA
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Originally Posted by OldFingers
One of the things I really like about my teacher is that he doesn't let me away with anything, rhythm and timing especially. That's when he pulls out the metronome and we slow down and count carefully. I dare say, that as long as I take lessons, there will always be a need for the metronome.


I respect your opinion about this - whatever works best for you - something tells me that if I had a teacher I'd be using the built-in metronome on my digital too (in order to avoid knuckle raps for taking too many interpretive liberties).

Originally Posted by OldFingers
I was once in the grip of the gods of golf having gotten down to a five handicap, but I couldn't play at that level consistently and I gave it up in frustration. Now I go out and kick the ball around and it is much better. Be happy with your 102.


Well, I've been warned not to take the game too seriously because as one very experienced player told me "she (golf) is a highly fickle mistress" - but I'm not happy at all with 102 and think that with lots of practice and some more experience I can do better, although I can't imagine myself ever as a 5 handicapper.

Originally Posted by OldFingers
BTW, I had listened to your recording in the recent ABF recital and was very impressed with the musicality in your playing, which is not something I had heard in your earlier work. I think you probably know me well enough to know that I'm not trying to be nice, I really was impressed.

Bob


Thanks for your kind remarks - I feel with this piece that I may have moved up a notch on the "piano player" ladder and that I'm finally starting to play some pieces the way I "hear" them in my mind - but there's still a long way to go and much work to do!

JF


Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on. Frederic Chopin

Current favorite bumper sticker: Wag more, bark less.
Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: TrapperJohn] #1321347
12/08/09 09:14 PM
12/08/09 09:14 PM
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John, I don't want to be-labor the point, but you might find my recent experience amusing. I've been working on the Lee Evans arrangement of "Manhattan" which has a couple of tricky measures with swinging "ands" which I keep messing up. As I discussed this with my teacher today, he tried several approaches to try to solve the problem, but when all else failed, out came the metronome.

Bob


Aspiring Retirement Home Lounge Pianist
Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: Undone] #1321450
12/09/09 12:27 AM
12/09/09 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Undone
Hey Gang, I finally got around to uploading some of my Alfred Book 3 pieces to BoxNet. So just to show that I haven’t been goofing off recently, here they are:

Serenade from String Quartet Op. 3 No. 5

Swan Lake

Scheherazade

Steal Away

Come Back to Sorrento


Undone


Great job on them all Undone (not that my approval really means much). I especially liked "Swan Lake". I had begun that one, but quit it when I moved on to Fur Elise. I think you played it really well; made it beautiful. I especially liked the second part (which I never began learning), it was expressed very well.

I, and I am sure many others, are and will be thankful you submitted these pieces as nice examples of how to play these A3 pieces: Thanks smile !


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Re: Alfred's Basic and ALL in One Adult Piano Cour [Re: Waltz] #1321604
12/09/09 08:40 AM
12/09/09 08:40 AM
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Thanks Waltz, I'm looking forward to hearing someone who can do a decent job with the ending to Scheherazade. At first I wasn't going to even post this one but then I thought my version may give someone else courage to post their better one. smile

Undone


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