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#1257063 - 08/27/09 07:46 AM Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune  
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How fascinating to see teaching in such a public space. Has it ever happened before? We must applaud Hugh's efforts, he's a nice guy as well. I have suggested to him linking a discussion thread to his teaching thread to avoid disrupting what is such a wonderful effort so here I suppose, is it.



The bell and drum thing is really helpful - Hugh makes it very clear, in a very accessible way, that keybedding, or any tension after sound production, is counter-productive. I have to disagree with his use of Audacity though. I have a friend who years ago, before I learned how to play the piano, insisted it was just a matter of playing lightly. It wasn't a helpful suggestion at all - you can play just as tense (I would say more tense) lightly as heavily. Playing the piano gracefully has a lot more to it.



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#1257066 - 08/27/09 07:57 AM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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Excellent point, Keyboardklutz - you can be very tense indeed and still produce a soft sound. What i found interesting in using Audacity with students is that more often than not, though, they misinterpret the various muscle tensions to equal a certain audible output, when either no change has occurred at all when intended, or quite the opposite of what they "felt" was coming out. Hearing, from a first person perspective, can be highly influenced by our own physical sensations and imagination. That lesson alone took me years to unravel, and it was mainly in the recording studio that i began to learn to be REALLY objective with the relationship between what my body physically felt and what was actually being produced sound-wise. Audacity by itself won't solve tension problems, but it is a terrific, objective tool to show sound levels visually, particularly when trying to develop a smooth crescendo or diminuendo.

I would highly suggest using both a visual and an audio tool - a webcam + Audacity - for best pedagogical results.

Thanks for the insight, Keyboardklutz!

Last edited by Hugh Sung; 08/27/09 07:58 AM.
#1257072 - 08/27/09 08:14 AM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: Hugh Sung]  
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I agree, adding a visual tool should really help. It must never be to the detriment of the ears or touch though.


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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#1257077 - 08/27/09 08:25 AM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: Hugh Sung]  
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Thanks for that Hugh! I really liked the Bell/Drum analogy. The one thing that I would caution against is some may then play staccato and let the pedal do legato for them. It's a matter of releasing the pressure while maintaining contact with the depressed key for a legato sound. I know that is not what you were advocating, but I see that a lot in students, and that is something I did myself in the years I was teaching myself. But it is still a great point, I hope you don't mind if I use it in my teaching (I will give credit, of course)?

The idea of videotaping and audio recording is great too. I do audio recording in my studio to help students prepare for a performance. Sometimes when you're in the midst of playing you don't realize that you had that little "hiccup" in that spot, or that the dynamics were too loud, too soft, etc. I think the use of Audacity to "see" what you're playing can be helpful to a person who already knows how to play piano and forte without unwanted/excess tension. KBK makes a good point that oftentimes playing softly can be extremely tense, so it depends on the student.

Making videos like this is very helpful, but there is always the danger that someone will go to an extreme or have an underlying issue that needs to be addressed in order for them to successfully play something. That is where a live teacher comes into play smile.

KBK, I like your thought about playing gracefully, and I think there is something to that, more than what some might believe is just choreography at the piano (and of course I know you did not mean it in that way). I've had people comment to me after a performance on how graceful my hands are when I play, and I make little attempt to "choreograph" in the sense of trying to look emotional while playing. But it is in the release of the pressure from the key, the upward movement of the wrist and the wrist flexibility, and the release of the fingers that are not being used that contributes to that "gracefulness".


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#1257081 - 08/27/09 08:30 AM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene

KBK, I like your thought about playing gracefully, and I think there is something to that, more than what some might believe is just choreography at the piano (and of course I know you did not mean it in that way). I've had people comment to me after a performance on how graceful my hands are when I play, and I make little attempt to "choreograph" in the sense of trying to look emotional while playing. But it is in the release of the pressure from the key, the upward movement of the wrist and the wrist flexibility, and the release of the fingers that are not being used that contributes to that "gracefulness".
So right, how many think we're doing it as some add-on! The gracefulness comes from the music, not any other way 'round.

Last edited by keyboardklutz; 08/27/09 08:43 AM.

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#1257138 - 08/27/09 09:35 AM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Thanks for that Hugh! I really liked the Bell/Drum analogy. The one thing that I would caution against is some may then play staccato and let the pedal do legato for them. It's a matter of releasing the pressure while maintaining contact with the depressed key for a legato sound. I know that is not what you were advocating, but I see that a lot in students, and that is something I did myself in the years I was teaching myself. But it is still a great point, I hope you don't mind if I use it in my teaching (I will give credit, of course)?

The idea of videotaping and audio recording is great too. I do audio recording in my studio to help students prepare for a performance. Sometimes when you're in the midst of playing you don't realize that you had that little "hiccup" in that spot, or that the dynamics were too loud, too soft, etc. I think the use of Audacity to "see" what you're playing can be helpful to a person who already knows how to play piano and forte without unwanted/excess tension. KBK makes a good point that oftentimes playing softly can be extremely tense, so it depends on the student.

Making videos like this is very helpful, but there is always the danger that someone will go to an extreme or have an underlying issue that needs to be addressed in order for them to successfully play something. That is where a live teacher comes into play smile.

KBK, I like your thought about playing gracefully, and I think there is something to that, more than what some might believe is just choreography at the piano (and of course I know you did not mean it in that way). I've had people comment to me after a performance on how graceful my hands are when I play, and I make little attempt to "choreograph" in the sense of trying to look emotional while playing. But it is in the release of the pressure from the key, the upward movement of the wrist and the wrist flexibility, and the release of the fingers that are not being used that contributes to that "gracefulness".
You're more than welcome, Morodiene, and by all means feel free to use the illustrations if you find them helpful! What struck me when perusing YouTube piano lessons was the sheer number of people viewing those clips. I find that incredibly encouraging, to know that there is a vast population out there that really wants to learn to play the piano. One of the ultimate goals of this "Clair de lune from Scratch" series is to show how much fun piano lessons can be with a "real" teacher, and at the end to point to several teacher referral services and /or personal teacher websites. In fact, this might be the perfect place for teacher "signups" - anyone interested in joining the live teacher referrals at the end of the series?

#1257325 - 08/27/09 03:00 PM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: Hugh Sung]  
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Interesting (no criticism intended at all) - here, the instructional video, the first beat of every bar on page 1 is anticipated (the final dotted quarter note is not given its full value - so common and so wrong!). My teacher would have gone through the roof!




But here, performance, perfect!



You might expect reading the music it would be the other way around. (of course, you've got to count 9)


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#1257538 - 08/27/09 09:34 PM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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I find the bell and drum analogy very useful. It clarifies, to me, what I have heard from Taubman teachers: "aim at the aftertouch and follow through to the keybed, do not aim at the keybed." To me, aiming at the keybed feels like "hitting"; aiming at the aftertouch feels more like "throwing", as in a dart. (Apologies for the poetastrics.)

ocd



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#1263381 - 09/06/09 09:20 AM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: ocd]  
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Lesson #19


The large leap 'Tai Chi' style unfortunately omits to mention being on the key before depression - something I can see Hugh was taught. He's obviously so right about remembering mistakes.

The buzzing bumblebee technique was suggested in an earlier lesson to help playing duplets followed by triplets. It's kinda good but not here. Here students must count in 9 and therefore learn to play 2 over a count of 3 - not impossible, and certainly a required skill.


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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#1263401 - 09/06/09 10:09 AM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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I haven't had chance to sit and watch all the videos yet but from what I have seen Hugh is very experienced and talented not to mention selfless in producing such a wonderful resource.

My only question (which may be covered in the lessons) is about learning such a piece from scratch with no previous playing experience. In the overview Hugh states that it doesn't matter if you have never played a note. But this is an advanced piece and a beginner could not hope to achieve anything meaningful from working on it. What am I missing? I understand that it could provide inspiration and incentive but unless you already play to a reasonable standard what are you supposed to gain from it?

I'm not trying to pick fault and as I said this question might have been answered already.


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#1263405 - 09/06/09 10:24 AM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: Chris H.]  
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Originally Posted by Chris H.
In the overview Hugh states that it doesn't matter if you have never played a note. But this is an advanced piece and a beginner could not hope to achieve anything meaningful from working on it. What am I missing? I understand that it could provide inspiration and incentive but unless you already play to a reasonable standard what are you supposed to gain from it?


Are you saying it is comparable to spending 10 years to learn a big time Romantic Concerto one measure at a time? smile

Actually, I don't see how it is so different to people attempting Fur Elise as their first piece on the piano. Whether they actually play it or play it to standard after going through these lessons is not as important as if these lessons turn them on to want more.

#1263410 - 09/06/09 10:29 AM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: theJourney]  
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But they pick up loads of bad habits.


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#1263412 - 09/06/09 10:29 AM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: theJourney]  
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Originally Posted by theJourney
Are you saying it is comparable to spending 10 years to learn a big time Romantic Concerto one measure at a time? smile


I'm not sure what you mean.

My point is that you don't spend years learning a difficult piece one measure at a time. You spend those years working your way up so that you can then learn the difficult piece quite quickly.

I get the point about inspiration and I can see that the thread over in the ABF has got a lot of poeple fired up.


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#1263415 - 09/06/09 10:32 AM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: Chris H.]  
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Originally Posted by Chris H.
Originally Posted by theJourney
Are you saying it is comparable to spending 10 years to learn a big time Romantic Concerto one measure at a time? smile


I'm not sure what you mean.
I believe it's a bit of a joke (though a bit close to the bone methinks).


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#1263416 - 09/06/09 10:33 AM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
But they pick up loads of bad habits.


Witness all the hapless victims of un-professional piano teachers whose parents spent years paying lessons to someone who was letting their students pick up loads of bad habits. Having a teacher is no guarantee against that, unfortunately. Some of us had to spend years as an adult in remedial technique lessons, gradually unravelling all the damage done in childhood.

Last edited by theJourney; 09/06/09 10:36 AM.
#1263419 - 09/06/09 10:38 AM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: theJourney]  
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Originally Posted by theJourney
Some of us had to spend years as an adult in remedial technique lessons, gradually unravelling all the damage done in childhood.
Yes, the smart (and desperate) ones.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#1263429 - 09/06/09 10:54 AM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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At the start of the other thread Hugh said:

"This lesson series is designed for the beginning adult pianist in mind, so consider yourself warmly invited to participate even if you've never played the piano or read a note of music before!"

I don't know how many lessons there will be but I would like to know if Hugh really thinks that a beginning adult pianist can learn this piece from watching the videos, or if indeed that really matters.


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#1263443 - 09/06/09 11:10 AM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: Chris H.]  
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He's really skirting the reality that technique matters.


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#1263463 - 09/06/09 11:54 AM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: Chris H.]  
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Originally Posted by Chris H.

My only question (which may be covered in the lessons) is about learning such a piece from scratch with no previous playing experience. In the overview Hugh states that it doesn't matter if you have never played a note. But this is an advanced piece and a beginner could not hope to achieve anything meaningful from working on it. What am I missing? I understand that it could provide inspiration and incentive but unless you already play to a reasonable standard what are you supposed to gain from it?


Originally Posted by Chris H.

My point is that you don't spend years learning a difficult piece one measure at a time. You spend those years working your way up so that you can then learn the difficult piece quite quickly.


This assumes that there is only one correct approach to learning to play the piano: perhaps several weeks spent on five-finger exercises and scales and then months spent on nursery rhymes and "beginner pieces".

Clair de Lune is hardly a virtuoso piece and is only 72 measures long, some of which are repeats. It will not take a beginner years to learn this piece and play it to a fair standard. Hugh is taking what I call the "just in time" approach, something that the Japanese auto industry employed with great success. In this approach you teach concepts just when they are needed to perform a passage. And you teach the minimum necessary, so you don't overwhelm the student with detailed minutiae at this stage.

So, what has the beginning student learnt so far? (i) She has learnt the F-clef and the G-clef. Calling them F and G clefs (and explaining why) as opposed to bass and treble clefs already helps the beginner locate the line on the staff corresponding to those letter names. (ii) She has learnt the meaning of sharps, flats and naturals (iii) She has learnt to decipher a key signature and 5 flats do not hold any terror for her (iv) She can read notes on the staff and locate them on the keyboard (v) She understands ledger lines (v) She knows note values (vi) She can count triple and duple rhythms (bumblebee buzz-ing) (vii) She understands tied notes (viii) She can play the thirds and chords needed in this piece (ix) She has learnt the rudiments of fingering (x) She has learnt the fundamentals of pedaling (xi) She can play octaves and make big leaps (xii) She knows about slurs and phrasing (xiii) She's been shown correct posture (xiv) She's had lessons in playing softly and with a legato touch. (xv) She can play the first page of a beautiful piece.

Not bad for 2 weeks of lessons.


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP
#1263469 - 09/06/09 12:00 PM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
He's really skirting the reality that technique matters.

Of course technique matters but only as a means to achieving musical ends and avoiding injury. Hugh teaches the technique needed to play a passage when the need comes up. He's taught proper posture, the technique for playing octaves, pedaling technique, etc. The student also learns much by watching what Hugh does. Of course one can spend years on technique but Hugh is not necessarily preparing students at this stage for Carnegie Hall.


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP
#1263482 - 09/06/09 12:20 PM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: jazzyprof]  
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Originally Posted by jazzyprof
Hugh teaches the technique needed to play a passage when the need comes up.
Technique is not so readily acquired.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#1263485 - 09/06/09 12:27 PM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: jazzyprof]  
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Originally Posted by jazzyprof
Not bad for 2 weeks of lessons.
In this post you confuse demonstration of a skill with its acquisition. Anyway, it's all rather holistic - all these skills must work together without disruption by poor habits.

Originally Posted by jazzyprof
Of course one can spend years on technique but Hugh is not necessarily preparing students at this stage for Carnegie Hall.
Ahem, at no stage is he. That's the point.

Last edited by keyboardklutz; 09/06/09 01:16 PM. Reason: Edited due to popular demand.

snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#1263500 - 09/06/09 12:52 PM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
Originally Posted by jazzyprof
Hugh teaches the technique needed to play a passage when the need comes up.
Technique is not so readily acquired.

Of course acquisition takes practice and that is entirely up to the student. The teacher cannot practice for the student. I myself am a teacher and I know the value to the student of homework for the acquisition of skills that I have demonstrated in class.


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP
#1263504 - 09/06/09 12:58 PM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
Anyway, it's all rather holistic - all these skills must work together without the disruption of poor habits.

I would hope you would want to disrupt poor habits.


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP
#1263508 - 09/06/09 01:09 PM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: jazzyprof]  
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Originally Posted by jazzyprof
Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
Anyway, it's all rather holistic - all these skills must work together without the disruption of poor habits.

I would hope you would want to disrupt poor habits.


smile

Cathy


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#1263575 - 09/06/09 03:32 PM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: jotur]  
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After some initial skepticism, I find that I've been enjoying Hugh's videos very much.

Learning technique and developing technique are very different things. I know this from golf - I have "learned" the elements of a basic golf swing, including the adjustments one makes for a variety of different shots (fade, draw, punch, chip, pitch, etc...)

This does not mean I can faithfully execute these different things 100% of the time. I have not yet developed my skills to a level where I am able to reliably draw a 5-iron, and I still hit the occasional errant drive or catch my 4-iron off the toe.

But despite my undeveloped swing, I still enjoy learning about the more advanced techniques, and if I watch a golf pro teach "How to Work a Drive from Right to Left" on TV or YouTube, I definitely glean some information and interest that gets me to the driving range.


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#1263585 - 09/06/09 03:52 PM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: jazzyprof]  
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Originally Posted by jazzyprof
Clair de Lune is hardly a virtuoso piece and is only 72 measures long, some of which are repeats. It will not take a beginner years to learn this piece and play it to a fair standard.


I think it will. This statement greatly underestimates the demands of this piece.



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#1263588 - 09/06/09 03:58 PM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: Chris H.]  
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I know a very hard working ABRSM grade 5-with-Merit student who worked hard for several months and achieved something performable.


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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#1263590 - 09/06/09 04:00 PM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: Kreisler]  
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2000 Post Club Member

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,919
UK.
Originally Posted by Kreisler
But despite my undeveloped swing, I still enjoy learning about the more advanced techniques, and if I watch a golf pro teach "How to Work a Drive from Right to Left" on TV or YouTube, I definitely glean some information and interest that gets me to the driving range.


I am willing to accept that this might just be the whole point, I would just like Hugh to clarify.

I teach hardly any adults and have rarely done so. Children are happy to learn basics and in fact are often put off by anything they think might be difficult. They will play simple pieces in 5 finger positions with each hand without giving it a second thought. Maybe it just doesn't work like that with most adults. The adults I have taught tended to be impatient and have wanted to play pieces above their level. Would others say that this is the norm?


Pianist and piano teacher.
#1263643 - 09/06/09 05:57 PM Re: Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune [Re: Kreisler]  
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 6,407
jotur Offline
Gold Level
jotur  Offline
Gold Level

Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 6,407
Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted by Kreisler
...Learning technique and developing technique are very different things. I know this from golf - I have "learned" the elements of a basic golf swing, including the adjustments one makes for a variety of different shots (fade, draw, punch, chip, pitch, etc...)

This does not mean I can faithfully execute these different things 100% of the time. I have not yet developed my skills to a level where I am able to reliably draw a 5-iron, and I still hit the occasional errant drive or catch my 4-iron off the toe.

But despite my undeveloped swing, I still enjoy learning about the more advanced techniques, and if I watch a golf pro teach "How to Work a Drive from Right to Left" on TV or YouTube, I definitely glean some information and interest that gets me to the driving range.


+1 yet again, Kreisler laugh

I've used the word "glean" here in PW to describe one of the ways I learn useful information. I've also used the way I've learned sports as an example of some of the ways I've learned piano. I've described my learning style as "spiral" - stretch and drop back, play harder play broader, play at the edge play in depth. I certainly, from experience in life, know the difference between seeing a technique and actually acquiring it. I liked very much jazzyprof's description of what is being conveyed in these videos.

When I first came to PW I had very much the sense of some others that piano was taught in pretty stodgy and non-musical ways. I learned soon that there are teachers who don't teach the way I was taught (and some still do . . .) But this and the "Learning from video game developers" thread are the first time I've seen some truly alternative approaches discussed with a real openness to what can happen by using them.

I didn't have good instruction in technique. I doubt seriously, tho it's hard to remember, that I actually had much instruction at all - I think what I got was pieces to play in some kind of graded order. Like piano*dad, I also wasn't very mature, certainly not musically, so the music itself didn't come until after I was a middle-aged adult. So I don't, in fact, believe that it is absolutely necessary to have been taught well from the very beginning - smile And I do believe that one can play *music* later in one's life even if one started with poor/no instruction. And I think these videos help that along.

I'm glad to see there's some openness to new approaches to piano.

Cathy


Cathy
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Practice what you suck at - anonymous
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