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Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: TimR] #1431395
05/07/10 10:03 AM
05/07/10 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by keystring
Many teachers teach skills subliminally, by assigning activities that seem to have no purpose, but by doing them something gets acquired.


Subliminally meaning the student is not consciously aware of it, but also very possibly the teacher is not consciously aware of it.

No, that is not what I was referring to in this instant. Some teachers will deliberately give instructions and assignments that will cause the student to encounter certain things. By working through these things as instructed, skills and awareness may result and it happens at the level of the body & nervous system, as well as the senses, first. One reason for choosing this option is that at times as students we can block ourselves from reaching something because we are imagining intellectually what that is, and then trying to force ourselves into it. Sometimes a specific instruction that seems pointless and silly will bring about something unexpected that the teacher has in mind. This assumes a good teacher who knows what (s)he is doing.

When Chang has one specific way of doing and approaching things - ok, it gives a way of doing things - but to say that there is one, and only one approach, is already wrong. Different good teachers will use different approaches which all work, and a single teacher may us different approaches with different students, and may even vary the approach for a given student at different stages of that student's journey.

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Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: Elissa Milne] #1431410
05/07/10 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Elissa Milne
Even before one practices the most difficult sections one should practice actions that will make the difficult aspects of those passages easier to execute. This requires an understanding of why the difficult passages are difficult, as well as a toolbox of practicing techniques for a variety of keyboard challenges.

Further, sometimes a difficult passage can be made easy through a change in perspective, rather than through repeated practice: for instance, recognising a pattern in a passage may make what was difficult quite simple, or by moving the hand further into the keys an awkward turn becomes entirely manageable.

So the issue here is having the discernment to appreciate when 'practice' solves the issues inherent in a 'difficult' passage, and when other approaches will prove more effective.

Simply playing a hard passage over and over is usually the very long way around mastering the music.


Macroscope + microscope + toolboxes + different lenses & sensors in part courtesy of the teacher + play?
Mathematically, unreal numbers where the sum may be greater than the whole?

Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: keystring] #1431487
05/07/10 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by keystring
Many teachers teach skills subliminally, by assigning activities that seem to have no purpose, but by doing them something gets acquired.


Subliminally meaning the student is not consciously aware of it, but also very possibly the teacher is not consciously aware of it.

No, that is not what I was referring to in this instant. Some teachers will deliberately give instructions and assignments that will cause the student to encounter certain things.


Sure. I agree. The teacher is aware, the student is not, the learning happens.

I was trying to also allow for the possibility the teacher is not aware of what point they are trying to teach, but either intuitively or through long experience has learned how to teach it well anyway.

Do you think learning is hampered if the student knows explicitly why he is doing a particular exercise or piece of repertoire? Because it seems to me the opposite is possible, even likely. Certainly learning occurs without awareness of the details or the mechanics, but for some of us it could be enhanced. If I know why I am practicing something, then it becomes not a rote runthrough, but a focused attempt to do that element better each time.



gotta go practice
Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: keystring] #1431498
05/07/10 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Some teachers will deliberately give instructions and assignments that will cause the student to encounter certain things. By working through these things as instructed, skills and awareness may result and it happens at the level of the body & nervous system, as well as the senses, first. One reason for choosing this option is that at times as students we can block ourselves from reaching something because we are imagining intellectually what that is, and then trying to force ourselves into it. Sometimes a specific instruction that seems pointless and silly will bring about something unexpected that the teacher has in mind. This assumes a good teacher who knows what (s)he is doing.


After reading this, I'm expecting my daughter's teacher to tell her to go wax her car. "Wax on, wax off."


Mom of Two Girls Who Used to Be Beginners
Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: TimR] #1431550
05/07/10 01:42 PM
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Tim, I was referring to Chang's advice that teaching has to be a certain way to be effective. He has observed one teacher and drawn some useful things from it which he shares. If we have no strategies whatsoever it might be good at least to know that such a thing exists, and try his ideas. However, he should not then be saying that only what he has discovered is valid, and if teachers don't follow that way then they are not teaching well. That is because a good teacher does things for a reason and may be doing effective things that don't follow the same model. If the advice is absolute then it's too rigid.

Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: MomOfBeginners] #1431588
05/07/10 02:23 PM
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Betty Patnude Offline OP
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The whole point of piano teaching is to present concepts to our students that help them gain ground in music reading and the act of playing the piano from conscious understanding of the learning concepts, to be retrieved from an accumulating subconscious location in the brain.

Brain circuitry is what we are creating my our practicing habits which are of most value when carefully and slowly put into place. It is far better to take the time to avoid making a mistake then it is forever after to clean up the mistakes that bad habits have generated. So avoidance of making mistakes is the area of prevention of later problems.

If in the beginning years (1-2) of piano study we are not willing to think and plan clearly, and to be accountable, we might as well avoid setting goals and just go on our merry, blissful way.

It bothers me that Chang capitalizes on all the errors, mistakes and problems in piano study but yet talks about fast/quick results and how to fix this problem and that problem. The answer is in careful instruction and careful learning, proceeding on a method-ical, deliberate, precise and consistant path in piano study. Take the time to acquire the skills you need and choose pieces to play that are within your range of possibilities depending on your skill sets.

Going at the tempo one can handle and being consistently productive at that pace will get you where you will be proud to be.

If we are always expecting to have problems, it will truly be fulfilled. I find so many things that Chang says to be absolutely detrimental to accomplishing one's musicianship goals. His writing is fragmented, disorganized, often he relates two or more things together that are not related. He boasts of having all the answers in this one book. Not true. You have to wade through unnecessary verbage to get to a good idea that is relevant. That is not the way one should receive instruction.

What he calls practice is deceptive - one only needs to know what one has to know, we do not have to be forewarned about this and that and the other thing we only need to be on the path and doing productive things with vigilance, awareness and perception.

The pot holes can be avoided and should one get into a pot hole or a ditch, the rememdies toward getting out are easily understandable and the product of a thinking, planning, and evaluating mind. So, it's my premise that working with a good attitude, having realisticic expectations, and following good, expert instruction for guidance is going to help tremendously. A good mindset will not compromise you. Being hasty and allowing miscellaneous mistakes to occur will be like having a yard full of dandelions that are out of your control.

Seek the value and select those pianists, performers, teachers who have spent their own life time in music seeking and finding the answers with which to communicate to others.

There are some principles that Chang has noted, but they came well before his book was written and through the diligent work of others who really deserve our respect for their contribution.

Wisdom is about the things that work and one only has to focus on finding the solutions to questions and problems that need overcoming. This can take a lifetime, I'm sure, as the more we search, the more we find. We are still finding and no one book is conclusive in everything it says about the components of being a good musician, or a good teacher, or a good performer.

There really are no laurels for a person to rest on as the study of music is an opportunity for lifetime learning and pleasure.

Take the negative out of it because thathe negative does not have to happen. It is so much better to work positively and enthusiastically. Controlling our mind/body connections, circuitry, programming are a large part of what we do to gain accuracy, accountability and authenticity.

Choose your experts carefully.

Betty Patnude

Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: keystring] #1431615
05/07/10 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Tim, I was referring to Chang's advice that teaching has to be a certain way to be effective.


I certainly agree with you that any one-size-fits-all model is fatally flawed.

In all fairness though I don't think chang ever proposes that either.


gotta go practice
Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: Betty Patnude] #1431618
05/07/10 03:24 PM
05/07/10 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
I find so many things that Chang says to be absolutely detrimental to accomplishing one's musicianship goals.


I'm still waiting to hear what specific criticisms you have of the substance of what Chang recommends. For example, which of the recommendations that Chang endorses in his book (which jazzyprof so kindly summarized for us) would you disagree with?

Or is it only the writing style that you have objections to?

For your reference, here is that list of Chang's recommendations again:


Quote

(1) Hands-separate practice for acquiring technique and memorizing difficult music.
(2) Chord attacks (i.e. practicing a linear sequence of notes as a chord) for bringing a passage up to performance speed.
(3) The "Thumb-over" technique for rapid scale passages. Thumb-over is actually a misnomer because you don't pass your thumb over anything; you merely shift the hand laterally.
(4) Segmental bar-by-bar practice: breaking a difficult piece into manageable segments for dedicated practice.
(5) Gaining technique from real pieces as opposed to exercises like Hanon.
(6) Techniques for memorizing pieces.
(7) Why you should practice the most difficult parts of a piece first.
(8) Finding the right hand motions required for playing at speed and then trying them out in slow motion.
(9) Relaxation.
(10) Metronome use.
(11) Mental play: visualizing an playing the piece in your mind away from the piano.

Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: Monica K.] #1431656
05/07/10 04:13 PM
05/07/10 04:13 PM
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Chang does not charge for this book - he is very up front that he has simply accumulated the approaches that worked for his daughters - he also does not pretend to be a writer. I have found his book to be quite useful - despite having a very good teacher and reading a variety of technique etc. books. I don't mind sorting through the verbiage for the nuggets, just as I don't mind sorting through the verbiage on this forum for the nuggets. Extraordinary claims there (or here) just get a shrug.

Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: Monica K.] #1431670
05/07/10 04:24 PM
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Thanks Monica,

I have a copy of that myself which I wrote my reply for last night. Let me get it and "hang it out on the line" here. Back in 5.

It's the disorganization and association of things not related to each other and the negative voice fixing problems that should not exist in the first place. Problems come because music gets approached with great enthusiasm and when it proves to be difficult tension and errors creap in and start the frustrations. Instead planned, patient learning is needed. I just finished delivering these thoughs in my post above this one. You obviously found nothing of value there where I point out the necessity to avoid certain things and to do slow and thoughful learning as you are wiring brain circuitry for all of your future. And, Chang is saying faster, quicker, and that he has the answers because he is the author of the only and best book to talk about fundamentals. Give me a break, he copies from many authors long before him and then disses their work, such as his comments about Abby Whiteside. It is better to take from what she says that relates well to today's communication in teaching concepts. She has a lot of purposeful comments as do most experts, however, there is also room for disagreement on certain topics, such as the value of Hanon or Czerny in their technique studies. He uses negatives coming from the correction side of being the "mechanic" who fixes the car. He is not spending any time writing in a constructive way about the guidelines that get you there flawlessly (Do I dare use that word?), efficiently and positively.

The attitude and voice of his work, in my opinion, is self-serving, boasting, and in many places erroneous. Music educators don't think like this unless they are working to repair a dysfunctional musician who needs intervention. You know, like a life coach, or like a "trainer" at the gym, or the gold instructor. We all want results and there are certain frames of mind and certain behaviors that get us there best and considerably faster than hour and hours of repair. Like "Mike Holmes" on HGTV who dismantles and completely repairs really big problems made by contractors in damaging people's homes, keeping their money, and disappearing. Mike is the ever loving hero and we see him suffer with the homeowner, sweat, and complain about the contractors who should not be allowed to hire out as contractors because they are bogus, fraudulent, and in no way were they qualified for their work much less an expert.

I am having lunch, followed by getting back to post about the 10 issues. It will be more like an hour than 5 minutes. My good intentions got obliterated by taking on writing this post.

Betty

Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: Mistaya] #1431679
05/07/10 04:34 PM
05/07/10 04:34 PM
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There's not much in Chang's book I find objectionable. I have some opinions that are contrary to his experience, but pretty much everything he says has worked for someone somewhere.

Compiling the book has been a monumental task, and I think his efforts have been valuable and worthwhile.

I don't really understand Betty's criticisms, either. She mentions poor writing, and yet her posts are full of misspellings and phrases like "to be retrieved from an accumulating subconscious location in the brain." I have absolutely no idea what an "accumulating subconscious location in the brain" means.

Betty also said this:

"There are some principles that Chang has noted, but they came well before his book was written and through the diligent work of others who really deserve our respect for their contribution."

As jazzyprof said on the previous page, Chang acknowledges the fact in his preface, so I'm not sure what Betty's objection is. There is actually very little in practice methodology that is new and original. Pretty much everybody borrows from those who came before - there is very little that's new in piano teaching. One could make the same criticism of Dorothy Taubman, William Newman, Madeline Bruser, Frances Clark, Seymour Bernstein, Barbara Lister-Sink, and Philip Johnston. (Or even Eloise Ristad, Barry Green, and William Westney.)


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: Kreisler] #1431716
05/07/10 05:26 PM
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In reply to JazzyProf and Monica,

I thought and wrote briefly what came to mind about these items last night and just now got around to posting:


(1) Hands-separate practice for acquiring technique and memorizing difficult music.
Hands separate for pieces “under construction” or “being analyzed for contect” “technique involving different tasks for each hand” (technique that is played in parallel should be played with hands together, but it’s a good idea to prepare hands alone slowly (MM:44 – 60 the 60 – the highest MM marking suggested. If no MM is mentioned, play at what seems to be a normal speed for the difficulty. But do play with a steady beat throughout) with the RH leading the way, and the LH following the RH’s lead, and perhaps preparing 3 times to each one of the RH. When the technique is going well in both hands, all practicing would be hands together at suggested tempo.
Memory should be based only on all accuract preparation steps having been done, and the piece brought to “expectations” of the composer. Now the piece is easily memorized with all “working part’s” and a section played 3 times and then the music closed, played once to see what is being retained at this time. Another visit to the piano in the same way until the piece is learned by sections will produced good, reliable memory. The student should also be playing well throughout the entire piece with an eye and an ear (looking at the music) to continue polishing the presentation of the piece for future memorized performance.


(2) Chord attacks (i.e. practicing a linear sequence of notes as a chord) for bringing a passage up to performance speed.
[color:#000066]I don’t understand “attacks”.
Does he mean shaping the hands by “grabbing” a vertical group of notes on the music to position fingers over notes within an octave reach to determine good fingering ideas?
Does he mean doing chord progression study?
Does he mean outlining a piece through its chord structure?
Does he say what he means by “chord attack”?
[/color]
(3) The "Thumb-over" technique for rapid scale passages. Thumb-over is actually a misnomer because you don't pass your thumb over anything; you merely shift the hand laterally.
[color:#000066]It isn’t wise to use a misnomer when it should be explained as a neighboring “lateral placement adjacent to the current hand position”. However, what is the validity to doing this
“chunking” ie, CDE FGAB CDE CDEFG while playing scales for technique and exercise, or in a music composition one is playing? It simply requires a steady gliding of the forearm behind the hand shape in the proper direction but thumbs “touch down” on the keyboard as an anchor to the few number of finger playing and get miss their targets. The thumb under and third finger and 4th fingers over remain the most fluent fingering and allow legato and staccato fingering control very well. If the goal is skillful, light, quick playing, all the brain has to do is to be able to think fast from having been prepared with scale fingerings and spellings in the first place. Speed cannot be done without the brain knowing the details and having experience in what one is attempting to do at the piano, first, slowly and through deliberate thinking and finding. Guided control of the human is a huge element of what practice and control are all about, also future memory preparation is being done, listening, evaluating the process and progress. All is in a state of preparation until one has arrived at achieving the musical product with all the is in one’s ability.
[/color]

(4) Segmental bar-by-bar practice: breaking a difficult piece into manageable segments for dedicated practice.
Practice areas need to be defined only in the part that show some “difficulty factor”. One has many ways to use to make problems go away:
Hands alone: Slow examination and practice
1) note by note accuracy
2) efficient and effective finger choices that are selected and remain constant
3) counting wherever there are counting challenges, rests,
4) Phrasing, vocabulary, mood, style, era, composer, title (expression/interpretation)
5) verifying key signature and being able to deal with accidentals within the piece
6) Finding practice areas is the result of previewing and introduction to the piece. Over time there will be less to deal with as some will have been improved and eliminated from the practice list. It would be better to work in sections from the “form” of the piece rather than to constantly go from the beginning all the way through the piece. It is important to identify each section and “zero in” on each section before moving on to the next section.


(5) Gaining technique from real pieces as opposed to exercises like Hanon
One may, if experienced enough, create exercises from real pieces that help with one’s technique in certain places of a piece. It is to better understand the demand and to be prepared on it that one would do this.
There are lots of established exercises that assist technique in general ways that assist most for gaining control of one’s brain and body to unify the piano reproduction of what is seen in the music.
Both are useful, both are possible for different situations. Acquired techniques will be there for you when you see them in the music. It gives you a “tool-kit” to play from.


(6) Techniques for memorizing pieces.
Have the piece completely understood before adding memorization to the list. Memory is too early if you are not completely finished in the examination, the preparation, and having a good, musical outcome first. Why would you want to memorize incomplete, uncertain physical and mental, fumbling playing. The goal has always been to play as slowly and carefully as possible from the beginning of starting a piece and to avoid error. Error is an undermining that crops up because one is not dedicated or committed to the goal as explained here. Sloppy and inaccurate means you may never get to musicianship because you allow clutter and error on your way to “perfection”. Perfection does not exist, but having high standards certainly does.

Insisting on using ineffective ways to study and learn is simply the “EGO” interfering. Spending lots of time in making corrections, provided you recognize a mistake, is about as purposeless as spending lots of time telling you what NOT to do. It only confuses us to allow what NOT to do to enter the picture. Focus on WHAT to do and you will arrive at your destination!


(7) Why you should practice the most difficult parts of a piece first.
You should look at the most difficult parts of the piece to make sure you already have the skill or the expertise and the stamina to learn the skill needed in the most difficult parts. You must know how the difficult part eludes you and what you can do about it. Pounding it down into being is not the answer. Discovering it’s musical beauty in relationship to the whole of the piece is the purpose to work with it. Why choose something far outside your ability – the pounding, propping up, badgering way people correct mistakes is not the least bit promoting skills that will effortlessly take you across the music page in sight reading.

(8) Finding the right hand motions required for playing at speed and then trying them out in slow motion.
He is not “trying something out”. This would be the approach of a very accomplished, professional musician. He reads through the music pretty accurately, getting most of the music into sound with little problem. But, for any area uncomfortable to him, he will slow it down to explore how the hands work with the music to create the sounds wanted. His curiousity and sense of purpose make this easy work for him. His fast was “authentic” in the first place.
It is not about the “under construction” issues that lower level pianists must work though to make playing the music possible. Fast would never be first as it would be “flawed” reading and playing.


(9) Relaxation.
What the relaxation pertains to would be approached in many different ways. Lots of resources for the subject coming from different professions as well as piano teaching and study.

(10) Metronome use.
A separate subject related to composers indications and, from the student’s point of view, setting at which to work through a piece on their way to final performance. The question would be how much and when to use the metronome for practice. Otherwise, it is essentially for establishing the tempo of a piece of music, or for different tempo markings within the vocabulary of music definitions.

(11) Mental play: visualizing and playing the piece in your mind away from the piano.
The subject does not describe what is meant by the question.
All things at the piano are brain guided, so everything is “mental play”.
There is reading music silently away from the piano,
There is adding “audiation” (hearing the music seen on the page by the inner voice) while reading music silently away from the piano
One could move one’s hands on an imaginary keyboard, or conduct the piece while hearing it from memory with out the music.
One could be listening with eyes closed to a recording and playing the imaginary keyboard,
One could play the piano with ones eyes closed,
There are many ways to mentally work with the music.

What exactly does Chang mean?


Betty

Edited to format and color code

Last edited by Betty Patnude; 05/07/10 05:28 PM.
Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: Betty Patnude] #1431755
05/07/10 06:27 PM
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For number 2, it's more commonly called "blocking" or practicing the "skeleton."


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: Betty Patnude] #1431772
05/07/10 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
What exactly does Chang mean?[/color]

Betty



With all due respect, I think you have fallen into the trap of criticizing a book you have not read.

It is not really chang you don't understand, but jazzyprof.

chang gives very specific prescriptions for specific problems, a toolbox if you will. I found them very understandable and some of them applicable.

Contrast to your long post that included the comments about negativity. I understood that too, and agreed in principle, but it was so general there was nothing that would be useful to me or any other student.

I know you don't teach that way. I know if a student asks how to finger something you will either suggest the fingering itself or teach the principles by which you will derive the fingering for that difficulty, as have my teachers. You will not give that student a lecture on how a positive attitude will solve his problems.

I hope you don't take this as an attack. I think you have overreacted to the style of the book, which I also find a bit over the top, but have missed some very good advice that is not available to the amateur in any other form nor taught in entirety by more than a minority of teachers. And buried in that good advice may very well be some nuggets that are just plain wrong. I'm still waiting for someone to point out which, though.



gotta go practice
Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: Betty Patnude] #1431778
05/07/10 06:56 PM
05/07/10 06:56 PM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,314
Lexington, Kentucky
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012
Monica K.  Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,314
Lexington, Kentucky
Thank you for taking the time to detail your thoughts, Betty. I'm assuming that, because you started this thread, you are interested in the topic and were happy to provide your criticism. Assuming that that assumption is correct, I hope you also won't mind if I follow up on it. I've read your critique in depth, and while I wasn't sure that I was interpreting all your statements correctly, here's my attempt at a very brief synopsis of your post:

1.) Hands separate practice. You appear to be agreeing with Chang on this.

2.) Chord attacks. You don't understand what Chang was proposing here.

3.) Thumb-over fingering. You don't agree with Chang on this.

4.) Segmental practice. You appear to be agreeing with Chang on this.

5.) Learning technique from pieces, not exercises. You appear to be agreeing with Chang that it is possible to do this.

6.) Practice difficult sections first. You appear to be agreeing with Chang on this.

7.) Techniques for memorizing pieces. You appear to be agreeing with Chang that memorization is good. You then go on to criticize memorization that occurs before a piece is learned. As that's not what Chang is advocating, I'm not sure why you raised the issue. In fact, he explicitly warns against memorizing HT too quickly and thus cementing errors in place.

8.) Find right hand motions for playing at speed, then practice those motions slowly. You appear to be agreeing with Chang about this.

9.) Relaxation. Not sure what your point was here, but at any rate, you do not appear to DISagree with Chang about the importance of relaxation.

10.) Metronome use. You don't voice agreement or disagreement with Chang on this one, stating instead that the "question would be how much and when to use the metronome." In his section on metronome use, Chang says that counting is essential, that metronomes should be used to check speed and tempo accuracy, but they should not be overused. As that is consistent with what I've seen you write in other threads, I'll assume that you are in agreement with Chang about this.

11.) Mental play. You don't appear to know what Chang suggested in this section. It is consistent with what I've seen you suggest in other threads with respect to studying a score and visualizing/audiating music away from the keyboard, so I will assume you are in agreement with Chang with this.

So what do I take away from this? I get the impression you have not read Chang's book. I get the impression further that, based on these necessarily brief summaries of Chang's recommendations, you actually agree with Chang on 8 of the 11 points, don't voice an opinion on 2 of them, and disagree with only one point (the use of thumb over).

In your post preceding this most recent post of yours, you stated, "I find so many things that Chang says to be absolutely detrimental to accomplishing one's musicianship goals." Again, given your overall endorsement of so many of Chang's recommendations, I don't know where or how you're drawing that conclusion. I'm truly baffled by your vehement opposition to the book. confused


[edit: TimR wrote his post while I was writing mine. Once again I got scooped by a much more concise and clearly stated post. whome ]

Last edited by Monica K.; 05/07/10 06:59 PM. Reason: to acknowledge that I could've just said +1 instead.
Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: Monica K.] #1431787
05/07/10 07:08 PM
05/07/10 07:08 PM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,314
Lexington, Kentucky
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012
Monica K.  Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,314
Lexington, Kentucky
And to add some personal reflections/musing:

I'm actually quite glad to see this thread and have this discussion. It made me go back to Chang's website and read the book over. Once I got past that overblown first chapter, I found the sections on specific techniques and advice to be pretty clearly written and, on the whole, consistent with what I've seen discussed here by teachers on this forum. In terms of a book that's dedicated solely to principles of practicing the piano, it seems to do a pretty darned good job. The website itself, with the searchable index, is easy to navigate.

And it's free. yippie

So I personally feel more comfortable recommending it to others on AB forum, after warning them to skip the intro and not take the claims too seriously, and of course adding a caution that thumb over is not accepted as the best method of playing scales.

Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: Monica K.] #1431829
05/07/10 08:21 PM
05/07/10 08:21 PM
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 347
Massachusetts
danshure Offline
Full Member
danshure  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 347
Massachusetts
I had not heard of this book, and just spent only about 10 minute skimming it. Although I might not agree with 100% of what he says off the bat, he seems very clear and easy to understand, and I find all of it very interesting. Even if you don't agree I don't see what would be confusing about it.

I'd like to read in more depth, but I love the holistic aspect of it, as he seems to cover a wide range of topics - technique, emotion, relative pitch, injury prevention. Very extensive and thorough indeed.

Contrary to some people questioning his claims to how you can learn piano faster, I don't think in theory its unreasonable to speed up how quickly one can learn piano - it's just very hard to implement in reality, and few people actually implement it correctly.

It reminds me of the 80/20 Principle, or "Pareto's Law" (80% of results come from 20% of effort), which is a well studied phenomena that I think for sure applies to practicing.


Go here ---> Piano Teaching Blog
Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: Monica K.] #1431831
05/07/10 08:21 PM
05/07/10 08:21 PM
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,160
Virginia, USA
T
TimR Offline
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TimR  Offline
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T

Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,160
Virginia, USA
Originally Posted by Monica K.

So I personally feel more comfortable recommending it to others on AB forum, after warning them to skip the intro and not take the claims too seriously,


Ah, those claims. Got me in big trouble. I downloaded the book, and convinced I could really do it 1000 times faster as promised, I booked a gig for the next weekend!

Well, not really. Hee, hee. I do admit being disappointed I couldn't become a concert pianist in six months by following the prescriptions. But i did find he covered things my teacher hadn't that helped with my progress.


gotta go practice
Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: Elissa Milne] #1431844
05/07/10 08:39 PM
05/07/10 08:39 PM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,464
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Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,464
Originally Posted by Elissa Milne
So the issue here is having the discernment to appreciate when 'practice' solves the issues inherent in a 'difficult' passage, and when other approaches will prove more effective.

Simply playing a hard passage over and over is usually the very long way around mastering the music.



Err, yes. But that's basically the entire point of his book. This is precisely how he defines real practice. Your point is not remotely opposed from the mere statement that it would be good be practising the hard bit first. Indeed, that's the absolute surface of what he goes into. You seem to be responding as if you are assuming that Chang says "find the the hard bits and then just repeat them ad infinitum". He most certainly does not. He could not be more opposed to such lazy rote-learning. I don't quite follow where your response is coming from.-

Re: Discussion of Chang and Fundamentals Book [Re: Betty Patnude] #1431849
05/07/10 08:51 PM
05/07/10 08:51 PM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,464
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Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member
Nyiregyhazi  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,464
I thought and wrote briefly what came to mind about these items last night and just now got around to posting

But these aren't even faintly specific points? You've replied to each with a mini essay, but they aren't Chang's words and in some cases they are so generalised that they don't even begin to describe his actual methods (no offence to the poster who summarised- I really don't think he was expecting the summaries to be treated this way). And neither does your response even begin to deal with what he says- seeing as it suggests no familiarity at all with Chang's own points or methods. If you're interested in refuting him, how about reading what he actually says (rather than a one sentence summary) instead of just giving your own unprompted explanation of what hands separate practise etc. means?

Incidentally, your own explanations, while detailed, don't even scratch the surface of what Chang covers. I also find them substantially more generalised and in many cases highly vague. I wouldn't assume you are vague as a teacher, but Chang is simply far more direct and to the point in his writing and explanations of methods- regardless of some dodgy grammar. I'd advise you to read it. The point about over overlapping when dividing into units was nowhere to be found in your summary. This is a HUGE point of interest, among many others and one of the classic pitfalls that slows down progress. This is one of the biggest keys there is to relieving students of hesitations/habitual guesswork in certain spots. Seeing as you are obviously methodical yourself, I'm surprised you aren't interested in thinking about expanding your horizons, with an open mind.

What is the point is going into great detail to refute something, solely in response to another person's one sentence summaries (in a way that does not even suggest passing familiarity with the actual source materials)? Really, I'm absolutely mystified...

PS. I'm also puzzled by the fact you said elsewhere that students should usually just carry on through wrong notes while practising, just the same as in performances. But now you seem rather more concerned with accuracy, rather than just being positive about slips? So what are you actually advocating?

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