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#1099807 - 12/28/04 10:41 AM I think I'm retarded  
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 117
HermanM Offline
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HermanM  Offline
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Newport, VA
I've always thought that in a very general sense, intelligence is a measure of how quickly one can learn. If that's the case, then I'm retarded when it comes to piano. When I first started playing, my background in trombone got things going in the right direction - already had bass clef down, learning treble no big deal. Now I'm at a plateau. It seems that whatever progress I make one day is completely gone the next. I've been working on a simple Mozart Minuet (K.1, in fact) for over a month, and I'm getting f$*&(@#ng nowhere on it. I'm ready to take a sledgehammer to my piano.

Lately, my only hope for learning a piece is to play it over and over and over again, to the point where I'm absolutely sick of it (as I'm becoming of the aforementioned Mozart piece).

Any thoughts?


I played it better at home.
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#1099808 - 12/28/04 10:46 AM Re: I think I'm retarded  
Joined: Sep 2004
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divadeb Offline
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Take a break. Play something else. Anything else. Go for a walk. Eat a cookie. Sounds like you're seriously engaged in "trying too hard".

Whatever you do...don't hurt the piano smile


Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

www.divadeb.com
#1099809 - 12/28/04 10:49 AM Re: I think I'm retarded  
Joined: Oct 2004
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markb Offline
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markb  Offline
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Maryland
Herman! This is the police! Put down the sledgehammer and step away from the piano!


markb--The Count of Casio
#1099810 - 12/28/04 10:53 AM Re: I think I'm retarded  
Joined: Nov 2003
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Bob Muir Offline
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Lakewood, WA, USA
You're probably practicing very inefficiently. I bet you practice a piece by starting at the beginning of it and working your way through it over and over again. Very bad.

Check out the links in THIS THREAD by Bernhard.

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#1099811 - 12/28/04 11:06 AM Re: I think I'm retarded  
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markb Offline
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markb  Offline
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Maryland
And check out this link to C.C. Chang's suggestions for efficient practice.

http://members.aol.com/cc88m/PianoBook.html


markb--The Count of Casio
#1099812 - 12/28/04 11:10 AM Re: I think I'm retarded  
Joined: Jun 2004
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signa Offline
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it's a bad idea to work on only one piece for long time. try to learn at least 2 different pieces at the same time, and when you get sick of playing one, switch to another. also, work on the problematic passages mainly until all your technical difficulties over those passages are gone, before seriously practicing the entire piece.

#1099813 - 12/28/04 01:03 PM Re: I think I'm retarded  
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,416
Cindysphinx Offline
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Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,416
Washington D.C. Metro
Surrender Dorothy!

Seriously, I'd put the piece aside altogether and come back to it in a few months. You'll *nail* it.

But if you persist, put a painfully slow metronome on the hard parts. Once you can play the hard part slowly, dial the metronome up a click at a time until you've got the hard part.

But I'd still vote in favor of ditching that piece for now.

Cindy -- whose piano experience is littered with ditched pieces

#1099814 - 12/28/04 02:17 PM Re: I think I'm retarded  
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 31
Tweeety Offline
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Tweeety  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 31
Virginia
You're brain is in a rut now. Refresh it with a new piece and then, in a week, go back to Mozart. Keep it in your repertoire--the youthful pieces are so precious.

#1099815 - 12/28/04 02:25 PM Re: I think I'm retarded  
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,593
markb Offline
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markb  Offline
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Maryland
Quote
Originally posted by Cindysphinx:
Surrender Dorothy!

OT: The Mormon Temple near Washington, DC is located just off the beltway in Maryland. When viewed from the beltway, the Temple looms large and majestically. Although the Temple is white, and not green, it is reminiscent of Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz, particularly at night as its lights illuminate the building with its golden spires, and it contrasts nicely against the black sky. Anyway, there's a railroad bridge that passes over the beltway near the Temple. Years ago, someone spray painted "Surrender Dorothy" on the bridge. While I don't condone graffitti or vandalism, it made me (and others, too) laugh whenever encountering that message. It was removed, of course, but reappeared at least one more time. It eventually was removed and never appeared again.

Sorry for that useless monologue that contributed nothing to this thread.


markb--The Count of Casio
#1099816 - 12/29/04 05:34 AM Re: I think I'm retarded  
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Posts: 117
HermanM Offline
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HermanM  Offline
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Newport, VA
Thanks to all for the advice - I'm downloading Chang's book now. Perhaps that'll help get me out of this rut.

HM


I played it better at home.
#1099817 - 12/29/04 06:13 AM Re: I think I'm retarded  
Joined: Aug 2004
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TimR Offline
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Virginia, USA
I think you are right, in general intelligence is about learning quickly, and then going on to make connections between concepts, and putting them together for further progress.

But.

I learned calculus pretty easily back in school; it just made sense.

I learned to juggle with extreme difficulty, and only after finding the most efficient practice methods.

Piano combines some physical coordination with some intellectual activities. Who knows which one is limiting you?


gotta go practice
#1099818 - 12/29/04 06:21 AM Re: I think I'm retarded  
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Posts: 117
HermanM Offline
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HermanM  Offline
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Posts: 117
Newport, VA
TimR - a valid point. Maybe I'm not retarded after all! I was a math wiz as well, but struggled with juggling.


I played it better at home.
#1099819 - 01/02/05 02:57 AM Re: I think I'm retarded  
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Posts: 117
HermanM Offline
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HermanM  Offline
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Newport, VA
For any interested, Chang's book (and Bernard's posts) has turned things around for me. Its kind of given me a new lease on learning piano. The difference is astounding - I'm actually making progress again. So much time wasted attempting pieces HT w/out mastering HS first!

Feels good to be back in the saddle again!


I played it better at home.
#1099820 - 01/02/05 04:35 AM Re: I think I'm retarded  
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 4,288
mikhailoh Offline
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mikhailoh  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 4,288
Cincinnati
Cindy has posted some very good advice about he slow metronome.. as someone who plays the piece thru and thru, I'm going to try that on my Clementi sonatina to get the speed up in the first movement.

To the music store for a metronome!


Michael

====

He is so solemn, detached and uninvolved he makes Mr. Spock look like Hunter S. Thompson at closing time.'
#1099821 - 01/02/05 10:56 AM Re: I think I'm retarded  
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 140
nan Offline
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nan  Offline
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San Francisco
Hermann, make sure the music is at the right level for you! I ran into trouble with pieces that were too hard. I'm now working on pieces that look easy to me but when I start to work on them, I find something challenging in each piece. For example, I'm working on Handel's "Prelude in G Major" which has a lot of scales. I thought that's got to be easy for me. Nope, had to work at it over and over again, but I enjoy it because I like the music. It's with one sharp -- that took some time to make sure I hit it right. What I really like about this peice is at the same time I am practicing fingering, I'm matching up the sound. I used to think I was tone deaf. It's amazing to me that I am getting the sounds. Another piece has a lot going on in the right hand and not much in the left which allows me to focus on certain aspects of playing without getting in over my head (hands?).

#1099822 - 01/02/05 07:27 PM Re: I think I'm retarded  
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 55
footom Offline
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footom  Offline
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Posts: 55
new york city
Hi HermanM,

I thought my trombone playing would be a quick step to piano, too. I didn't realize that it's exceedingly difficult to play more than one note at a time on the trombone, unless one has dental problems. That brings the confusion factor way up.

If you don't just have to play classical, get a fake book which has some songs you like in it, then buy the little paperback "Play Piano in a Flash" by Scott the Piano Guy Houston. He also has a DVD. You'll be playing simple tunes with both hands in one sitting, and will start exploring for other ways to take this "down and dirty" approach to satisfying cocktail party piano. If this break from the formal training of classical appeals to you, I'm exploring lots of books in this genre currently, let me know and I'll tell you which ones I think are OK.

#1099823 - 01/03/05 07:49 AM Re: I think I'm retarded  
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,593
markb Offline
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markb  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,593
Maryland
Hey footom,
If you'd like, you could post a short review on the Scott Houston method, sort of like Bob Muir did with Sudnow and I did with the Keyboard Accompaniment Course. Also, I wouldn't mind hearing about the books you've tried for fake book/cocktail party playing.


markb--The Count of Casio
#1099824 - 01/03/05 02:22 PM Re: I think I'm retarded  
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 55
footom Offline
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footom  Offline
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Posts: 55
new york city
Hey markb,

The Houston method is very basic but he does milk the simplest stuff for its best possible sound. He is rather verbose, a lot of encouragement and debunking of the standard method of learning piano by going through the basics.

He throws away the need to learn the bass clef. All he works with are chord names and simple melody lines. I also purchased his DVD, which covers exactly the same as the book.

He shows you how to use grace notes or "run-ups", as he calls them, and octaves with the right hand to make the basic single note plunk sound more intereting. He shows you how to break up left hand chords a bit (by playing their individual notes). He also shows some very basic blues patterns, left and right hands.

Although he shows simple stuff, he sure makes it sound good. The DVD is a very clear example of the gestalt principle, wherein the whole is more than the sum of its parts. In this case, the simple examples he shows sound very good in the hands of a professional piano player. As simple as the technique is, it still takes practice and familiarity to get a polished sound.

Overall, it's worth it as a starter. I enjoyed it, and I am a beginner, and I've basically consumed most of what he has to offer, except for the practicing and polishing part, in one evening. It's not an expensive book, and the audio files are apparently available on his website, although I had trouble accessing them, which is why I'm glad I also had the DVD.

Re the other books I have, being the type who likes to go out and buy a lot of books, there are many, and I promise to post reviews or at least critiques as I explore them.

All best.

#1099825 - 01/03/05 04:05 PM Re: I think I'm retarded  
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 331
Vintagefingers Offline
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SE
Although he shows simple stuff, he sure makes it sound good. The DVD is a very clear example of the gestalt principle, wherein the whole is more than the sum of its parts. In this case, the simple examples he shows sound very good in the hands of a professional piano player. As simple as the technique is, it still takes practice and familiarity to get a polished sound.

Footham, this is precisely the point with these "easy play" methods, in the hands of a professional it looks quite easy. As my teacher has been telling me all along, learn chords inside out and you can do it too, of course learning a little technique along the way can't hurt.

I've watched Scott Houston on his PBS informercials, he is a very compelling saleman because he makes you believe you can do it with a little effort, isn't that what we all want, something neatly packaged and easy? I was playing "When the Saints go Marching In" both hands in C major using 3 chords after my very 1st lesson. That just got me excited to get further into it so I think Scott is really filling in a void for those that just want to play some tunes without the endless practicing it REALLY takes, but along the way may discover a whole lot more about both music and themselves which is a very good thing.

There is no easy road to doing anything well, but there are certainly more efficient ways to realize it faster as Herman recently discovered. That is one of the really great facets of this site, how we can each contribute and encourage each other towards that end.


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