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Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
wr #1260093 09/01/09 03:22 AM
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Originally Posted by wr
The satisfaction I receive is because I have been a piano and classical music lover since I was a toddler and it is beyond explanation, as far as I know.


Well said.
I think there are a lot of us who felt strangely attracted to the piano and classical music from a wee age. If personal enjoyment is the goal, the other goals aren't necessarily that important. Not every golfer wants to go pro or put all the time and energy into getting a low handicap. Most golfers play for their own personal enjoyment, to get outside and for the social aspects.

Personally, I think that playing at a level that you are not ashamed or worried about with those you see roughly or broadly as your peers brings a lot of additional enjoyment to the piano: participating in quatre mains evenings, organizing mutual home recitals, accompanying exam boards, substituting in church, etc. However, I can understand those who just want to play boogie woogie or stride for themselves or meditate with the masters with their head in a Henle Urtext every afternoon.

Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
theJourney #1260118 09/01/09 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by theJourney
or meditate with the masters with their head in a Henle Urtext every afternoon.
How did you guess?

Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
jotur #1260144 09/01/09 07:41 AM
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"What I play is dance music - reels, jigs, waltzes, shottishes, swing, etc. Many of the reels *are* "notey." And, as you say, for the dancers the pulse is all. What I've found is that if I'm not aware of each 1/16 th note the pulse gets lost entirely - as you said, the notes in between the pulses are not rhythmic. My pulse for this kind of music is pretty well-developed from years of dancing and playing. So for me, the key is to pay attention to the 1/16th notes, the accents and phrasing for them, and to their relationship to the pulse. I don't usually play the melody for contra dances any more, but occasionally I do."

Interesting. I'm not a big fan of metronomes, but I'd think about trying the ocassional bit of practise of with them. If you start with it clicking the shortest notes (at a moderate tempo) and then switch over to the beats at the same basic speed, it's a useful way of training yourself to maintain the flow, while thinking more about occasional anchor points. I remember that this is something I found almost impossible a few years ago. If you can train yourself to work both ways, I suspect that you might find it a lot more comfortable when you go on to feel only the main beats. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but once you've set foundations, it always seems more stable to think of the primary beats, rather than have to contend with every short note.

Consider that if there's a minor bit of instability in the odd short note, thinking of the smaller units could lead to the tempo straying rather quickly. If you're thinking about anchoring yourself onto the next longer beat, it's often possible to make unconscious adjustments and keep things as steady as a rock, despite any minor flaws that might creep in. I don't wish to sound like I'm going against Kreisler as his advice is an excellent for the slower work. However, I'd always be seeking to reach the point where the flow of momentum and clarity is sufficiently ingrained to see the bigger picture. At some speeds, the fastest notes can be little more than a vibration. I'm convinced that the most stable pianists are those who feel the beats.

Last edited by Nyiregyhazi; 09/01/09 07:50 AM.
Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
Nyiregyhazi #1260198 09/01/09 10:08 AM
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A quick word about Betty's 80%/20% idea:

This idea comes from research into language reading fluency. There is a sweet spot when you assign a passage. If students know all of the words, then they're not challenged and will not see progress in their reading fluency. If the students are unfamiliar with too many words, or if they have to stop and rely on context/analysis too often, they get frustrated, lose the meaning of the passage and will not see progress in their reading fluency.

Researches have found that this "sweet spot" is around 95%/5%. Students need near-instant recall of about 19 out of every 20 words.

At beginning/intermediate levels of music education, I feel, as do many others, that this model holds true. A 9-year old, confronted with a piece that has a stumbling block every two or three measures, is likely to throw their hands up in frustration. But if you give the same 9-year old a piece that presents those same challenges less frequently (maybe two or three times in a 2-page piece), then the task is suddenly much less daunting, and the student learns to conquer the problem.

This is exactly why some pieces are more popular than others. The CPE Bach Solfeggietto fits the bill because once you can handle the basic figuration, there are only two spots that are "tricky." This is also why some pieces fail miserably. Schumann's Jungendsonaten fall into this category I think. They're beautiful pieces, but there are so many changes in texture, so many little challenges in each phrase, that the task of learning it becomes rather daunting. Those who have conquered the challenges necessary to play "For Julie" are usually beyond the point where a child's sonatina is an attractive repertoire choice.

That being said, I think everything changes when you hit advanced literature. There are pieces out there that present constant challenges to be overcome. If you wait until you can sight-read 90% of the Scarbo, then you can forget it. I've yet to met a pianist at any level who could just sit down and rattle off Scarbo at tempo and only have to stop once every ten measures or so.

There comes a point in a student's education where they suddenly become interested in music they "can't handle." I know it happened to me, and I've seen it happen in lots of students. We all know the pieces - Chopin Fantasie Impromptu, Rachmaninoff c# minor prelude, Beethoven Pathetique - these are pieces that students have a strong desire to play despite being "not ready" for them.

Teachers don't really like this because it causes one of two problems:

First - the student is so excited about the piece they'll fight through it no matter what and end up settling for a rather rough performance. There's nothing wrong with that, except that it's annoying to teachers. It would be like asking a French teacher "okay, so I want you to teach me French, but I just want to learn enough to be intelligible, I don't want to really work on getting the details of pronunciation and grammar correct." It's fine if you want to speak broken French, and it will certainly allow you to get around in Paris, but French teachers aren't trained to teach people how to speak bad French and would be a little lost as to what exactly to do with that student.

Second - the student is excited about the Pathetique for two months, then once those tremolos just don't work out, they become frustrated and quit. They decide that they just don't have what it takes and give up. Teachers hate this because it's not that the student "doesn't have what it takes," it's that they don't have what it takes yet. If only that student had learned Burgmuller's l'Orage or Nakada's "Etude-Allegro" like they were asked, those tremolos wouldn't be so insurmountable.

This is exactly what the grading system is designed to avoid. When you make steady progress through the grades, you end up facing the Fantasy-Impromptu with a level of preparation that makes the task far more manageable. (This is also why I get annoyed when people ask what "Grade" a piece is. A grade doesn't just imply a level of difficulty, it also implies a set of skills obtained through the previous grades. Just because you can play a level 7 piece doesn't mean you're a level 7 player - there could be some things back in levels 4 and 5 you never mastered.)

Of course, the world we live in is not perfect, and there are probably a lot of students out there like me who never had the benefit of steady training. Quite honestly, I don't know if I would have survived steady training through the grades - my personality doesn't lend itself well to doing things in a very organized, sequential manner. So for those of us who don't have access to or don't have the psychological make up to learn the way the experts would prefer, diving in to pieces that are over our head is somewhat inevitable. And for those of us who have the tenacity to see the challenges through, the fight is totally worth it.

I still occasionally have trouble with arpeggios and there are 3-4 Chopin etudes I'll never be able to play well. My checkered past left some holes in my training that I'll never really be able to fill.

That will not stop me from appearing on stage a dozen or so times this year. I'll just have to make sure none of those performances include Chopin Op. 25#6. smile


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Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
Kreisler #1260254 09/01/09 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
French teachers aren't trained to teach people how to speak bad French


I guess mine was the exception that proves the rule.

Why not dig into the too difficult piece with the student and identify together the capabililities that will need to be developed to play it and put a plan together to develop those capabilities? This could include tailored exercises, (remedial) work on technique, etc. Limiting work on that piece to one or two pages and only as complement to the other pieces that are more pedagogically well suited to the student's stage of development can keep a nice balance of motivating with what might be perceived as more mundane. By actually laying out in concrete terms specifically what the student will need to be able to do to attack the piece whether it is fast, legato arpeggios, runs in thirds, tremolos, octaves, complicated polyphony, pedal work, or whatever, they can see not only why the skill is necessary, and not only understand why they are being asked to be doing something out of Brahms 51 or Czerny 299 but the see it also as a direct entry ticket to that dream they are working on.

Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
Nyiregyhazi #1260262 09/01/09 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Nyiregyhazi
Interesting. I'm not a big fan of metronomes, but I'd think about trying the ocassional bit of practise of with them.


Metronomes are our friend smile At one time it was the band name. laugh The lead fiddler has one with a really loud "tock". So we can all hear. smile

Originally Posted by Nyiregyhazi
If you're thinking about anchoring yourself onto the next longer beat, it's often possible to make unconscious adjustments and keep things as steady as a rock, despite any minor flaws that might creep in.


The most extreme example of anchoring to the long beat I remember was a less-experienced pianist who was playing, solo, a strathspey - a kind of slower-stepped shottish-like step (that's heresy) in Scottish country dancing. She was having some trouble with the melody and the rhythm within a phrase didn't have "minor" flaws. But every phrase started and ended right where it was supposed to. It was like dancing on a rolling log or something, with a section of calm water every 8 bars. For those of us with a sense of humor it was kind of funny. For some of the more straight-laced there was a sense she should be banned laugh

Cathy


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Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
theJourney #1260264 09/01/09 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Kreisler

There comes a point in a student's education where they suddenly become interested in music they "can't handle." I know it happened to me, and I've seen it happen in lots of students. We all know the pieces - Chopin Fantasie Impromptu, Rachmaninoff c# minor prelude, Beethoven Pathetique - these are pieces that students have a strong desire to play despite being "not ready" for them.

Teachers don't really like this because it causes one of two problems:

First - the student is so excited about the piece they'll fight through it no matter what and end up settling for a rather rough performance. There's nothing wrong with that, except that it's annoying to teachers.


Thank you for a very thought-provoking post, Kreisler. thumb I really liked this section a lot, because I think it identifies very clearly the source of conflict that's emerged on a lot of similar threads we've seen in AB forum and the teachers' forum.

For me, and others like me, the joy of being able to play--however clumsily--a piece that's captured my heart outweighs the cost of knowing that I've played it clumsily. But then again, I have different goals for piano study (playing purely for my own pleasure) than do many if not most of the regulars on the Pianist Corner.

Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
jotur #1260274 09/01/09 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
A 9-year old, confronted with a piece that has a stumbling block every two or three measures, is likely to throw their hands up in frustration.


Possibly true. And point taken about the research.

I'm, however, not 9. And haven't been in 54 years frown So, even if *most* 9-year-olds starting intermediate literature would do the above, it's not generalizable to all or most intermediate students, as it appeared to me that Betty did. And I don't think the research implies that, if there's a stumbling block every 2 or 3 measures, one therefore is not capable of independently (independent of formal lessons) figuring out how to approach learning the piece. I've spiraled around pieces like that until I've acquired the skill to tackle them several times, playing them, playing other stuff, playing them, playing other stuff. It can be done. Just sayin'.

Cathy


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Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
jotur #1260290 09/01/09 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by jotur
The most extreme example of anchoring to the long beat I remember was a less-experienced pianist who was playing, solo, a strathspey - a kind of slower-stepped shottish-like step (that's heresy) in Scottish country dancing. She was having some trouble with the melody and the rhythm within a phrase didn't have "minor" flaws. But every phrase started and ended right where it was supposed to. It was like dancing on a rolling log or something, with a section of calm water every 8 bars. For those of us with a sense of humor it was kind of funny. For some of the more straight-laced there was a sense she should be banned laugh

Cathy


Yeah, that's always a danger still. If you can only hit beats in certain spots but it's a mess in between, it's always worth going back slowly- and subdividing as though the shorter notes are steady beats in their own right.

Last edited by Nyiregyhazi; 09/01/09 12:12 PM.
Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
Kreisler #1260394 09/01/09 03:06 PM
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[quote=Kreisler]A quick word about Betty's 80%/20% idea:
1) This idea comes from research into language reading fluency.
2) There is a sweet spot when you assign a passage.
3) Researches have found that this "sweet spot" is around 95%/5%.
4) Students need near-instant recall of about 19 out of every 20 words.
5) At beginning/intermediate levels of music education, I feel, as do many others, that this model holds true.
6)I think everything changes when you hit advanced literature."

Jason, I enjoyed reading all of comments! I did isolate points 1-4 because I know these things from my own teaching experiences, but I have not been able to "document" the source or research to support it. I am glad to hear your accounting establishing it as valid.

For points 5-6, this "spoon feeding" pretty much ends as the student now has "tools in his toolbox" to use on demand. This serves him very well until he decides, against the "structure" process to do music "over his head".

So, I think we are pretty much in agreement over many things.

My interrupted music education was a profound loss to me for 12 years. I played very little piano during that time as I did not own an instument and my time was dedicated to 5 young children, the home, and my husband. There would have been little opportunity to play even if there were a piano in the home. So, I've had lapses in my background but have worked daily since 1971 to work on my playing and teaching skills. Until 2003 when I had an accident, and 2005 another accident. These things have limited my physical abilities and I've not played as much since - pain and movement limitations.

When asked about my enjoyment of playing, I realize that I've lost enjoyment of playing in the present moment for myself. I know my skills are latent at this point and I'm hoping to regain what I lost, and possible do even better. Just yesterday I ended successfully with 13 weeks of physical therapy with restored strength and range of movement in my arms and legs with no pain for the first time since those accidents. I also hope to put down my cane and drive again.

I'll continue in the way that I know how to work through obstacles in the music: it is part of my personality, my mindset, and it does work for me. It would be wonderful to capture the enthusiasm and excitement of the pianists who posted as that being their prime motivator in practicing. I'm really going to explore that!

This topic has proven to be excellent in so many ways!


Betty Patnude

Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
Kreisler #1260537 09/01/09 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
Of course, the world we live in is not perfect, and there are probably a lot of students out there like me who never had the benefit of steady training. Quite honestly, I don't know if I would have survived steady training through the grades - my personality doesn't lend itself well to doing things in a very organized, sequential manner. So for those of us who don't have access to or don't have the psychological make up to learn the way the experts would prefer, diving in to pieces that are over our head is somewhat inevitable. And for those of us who have the tenacity to see the challenges through, the fight is totally worth it...

My checkered past left some holes in my training that I'll never really be able to fill....

That will not stop me from appearing on stage a dozen or so times this year.


+1

Cathy


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Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
jotur #1260710 09/01/09 10:38 PM
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Yes, that was a +1 from Kreisler!

Inspired!

Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
Kreisler #1260733 09/01/09 11:15 PM
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Fine thoughts, Kreisler. Very fine thoughts.


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Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
Kreisler #1260828 09/02/09 03:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Kreisler


I still occasionally have trouble with arpeggios and there are 3-4 Chopin etudes I'll never be able to play well. My checkered past left some holes in my training that I'll never really be able to fill.



You could fix those holes if you...uh, let's see...stop thinking like an amateur and start thinking like an ARTIST. And attack them with the necessary patience, tenacity, and intensity. But of course, since you're a pro already, who cares if you do? I mean, Chopin's op.25/6...so what if you have convinced yourself you will never be able to play it well? Nobody really cares. Right?



Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
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Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by Kreisler


I still occasionally have trouble with arpeggios and there are 3-4 Chopin etudes I'll never be able to play well. My checkered past left some holes in my training that I'll never really be able to fill.



You could fix those holes if you...uh, let's see...stop thinking like an amateur and start thinking like an ARTIST. And attack them with the necessary patience, tenacity, and intensity. But of course, since you're a pro already, who cares if you do? I mean, Chopin's op.25/6...so what if you have convinced yourself you will never be able to play it well? Nobody really cares. Right?




grin

Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
wr #1260918 09/02/09 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by wr
You could fix those holes if you...uh, let's see...stop thinking like an amateur and start thinking like an ARTIST...


I care deeply and have spent thousands of hours and 20 years of practice fixing up those holes. For every hole that's still there, I've fixed ten. And though I'm not working on 25/6 now, I am at work on other holes. Right now, the hole I'm working on is my accompanying repertoire. I'm learning 10 new pieces this year of standard literature for violin and saxophone. 25/6 will have to take a back seat. I did, however, make progress on it a year ago, and this past summer, I worked two other etudes up to a standard that had previously eluded me.

Don't worry, wr, I'm painfully aware of how abrasive I was at first and how I seem to have hit a nerve with a lot of people out there. I've tried to do penance by offering some worthwhile suggestions and clarifying my thoughts in a way that (I hope) might prove useful or interesting to those following this thread.


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Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
Kreisler #1261189 09/02/09 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Kreisler

Don't worry, wr, I'm painfully aware of how abrasive I was at first and how I seem to have hit a nerve with a lot of people out there. I've tried to do penance by offering some worthwhile suggestions and clarifying my thoughts in a way that (I hope) might prove useful or interesting to those following this thread.


NOW we're getting somewhere.

But still, your bit about "stop thinking like an amateur" is going to take a while to fade from my memory. Several points could be made, but the most obvious is that it is literally impossible to stop thinking like an amateur if you are one. Not that thinking like an amateur is necessarily bad and should be stopped anyway, to my way of thinking. Nor is thinking like an amateur mutually exclusive with thinking like an artist. I know (or at least I think I know) that at heart you really are just interested in people doing the very best they can and getting out of mental habits that may be holding them back, but seriously, you probably should banish the word "amateur" from your public vocabulary if it has such negative connotations for you. Those of us who are amateurs can do without seeing phrases like the one I quoted.

Last edited by wr; 09/02/09 04:54 PM.
Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
wr #1261204 09/02/09 05:09 PM
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Dang, I hope that amateur isn't destined to go down the same road as dilettante. "Dilettante" from dictionary.com:

Quote
  1. a person who takes up an art, activity, or subject merely for amusement, esp. in a desultory or superficial way; dabbler.
  2. a lover of an art or science, esp. of a fine art.
[…]

Originally without negative connotation, "devoted amateur," the pejorative sense emerged late 18c. by contrast with professional.

I embrace amateur because of its root meaning from "to love"; even though it's occasionally used in the sense of not merely non-professional but lacking in professional skill, at least it's not yet synonymous with shallowness in the way that dilettante has become.

Steven

Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
wr #1261213 09/02/09 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by wr


NOW we're getting somewhere.

But still, your bit about "stop thinking like an amateur" is going to take a while to fade from my memory. Several points could be made, but the most obvious is that it is literally impossible to stop thinking like an amateur if you are one. Not that thinking like an amateur is necessarily bad and should be stopped anyway, to my way of thinking. Nor is thinking like an amateur mutually exclusive with thinking like an artist. I know (or at least I think I know) that at heart you really are just interested in people doing the very best they can and getting out of mental habits that may be holding them back, but seriously, you probably should banish the word "amateur" from your public vocabulary if it has such negative connotations for you. Those of us who are amateurs can do without seeing phrases like the one I quoted.


Considering Kreisler has perhaps given more valuable advice to players of every level and been more generous with his time than anyone at PW, I find this statement harsh, especially considering his previous reply to you.

I don't see the slightest problem with the phrase "thinking like an amateur". I don't think people who use "like an amateur" are saying amatuers can't play with artistry. Nor do I think your concern about it not being possible to literally "stop thinking like an amateur" particularly reasonable.

In fact, I think it would an interesting and important thread to discuss the way a professional pianist thinks compared to an amateur.

One of the most popular chess books ever written was called "Think like a Grandmaster".

Re: Chopin Presto non tanto
pianoloverus #1261237 09/02/09 05:58 PM
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Think like Grandmaster Flash:

Don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge
I'm trying not to lose my head
It's like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder
how I keep from goin' under


smile

Steven

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Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
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