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#1435547 - 05/13/10 04:49 AM Too much focus on technique?  
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debussyfan Offline
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I just started lessons with a new piano teacher, and she corrects my hand position every time I touch the piano. I'm grateful for the correction, but it seems excessive to be corrected constantly throughout the entire lesson. The changes are usually relatively minuscule. She wants my technique to be like a concert pianist's (I'm in grade 6, out of 8 grades = intermediate). The most I played was one bar from a piece I'm learning.

Is this normal, or too much focus on technique?

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#1435548 - 05/13/10 04:53 AM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: debussyfan]  
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When I first began with a new teacher she would do the same thing with me... she'd stop me and draw my attention to the error or the effect of tension... have me relax - and then start again.

I found that within a few weeks I was playing so much better... I was able to play the music the way I heard it in my head - without errors in technique getting in the way.

Bear with it... and I'm sure you'll find that you'll benefit from the attention to technique - and will make you progress through 7th and 8th Grades much quicker - and possibly more enjoyable.

#1435618 - 05/13/10 08:30 AM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: LimeFriday]  
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Since you just started and you're already at an intermediate level, I would say no, this is not excessive. There are possibly some bad habits you have in your playing from prior to taking lessons with her that need to be corrected in order for you to advance without injury. She has your best interests at heart. The best way to get her to stop is to correct yourself whenever you play until it becomes a habit. The sooner you do as she says, the sooner you can move onto other aspects of playing. However, technique is always at the heart of things (technique before art), so you will probably be addressing technique in particular passages of music each time you learn a new piece. Then once you "get it" for that passage, then you work on making it music.

For example, let's say you are learning a Chopin Nocturne, and you encounter one of his infamous fiorituras (this is where you have a series of 8th notes connected together with the intention of all of them being played within one beat, all over a steady LH pattern that doesn't seem to match the RH at all). Since that may be one of the harder measures of the piece, of course time would be focused on technique with the goal of being able to do so without pain or fatigue. It makes sense that you would be working on how to play and practice this passage, even if your general technique has been corrected, simply because you've never encountered something like this before.

You mention the most you've done it one bar of music. Do be sure that you apply what she teaches you in the lesson to the rest of the music when you practice. I'm sure time constraints make it impossible to address each and every measure. So do that work on your own.


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#1435653 - 05/13/10 09:37 AM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: Morodiene]  
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Thanks for the insight smile
I'm relieved, because I don't want to have to look for a new teacher. My last never focused on hand position, so I guess that's why it's so bad.

#1435744 - 05/13/10 12:06 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: debussyfan]  
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You should be thankful that your new teacher is focusing on your weakness! Most transfer students come with a bunch of technical issues. My most recent transfer student came with excellent hand shape, but her fingering is crazy...she does 1-2-3-4-5-5-5-5 on her scale passages, and never learned the proper fingering for chromatic scales. And don't get me started on her completely WRONG pedaling technique.


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#1435776 - 05/13/10 01:01 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Constant, vigilant attention is the only way to build a habit. Once better habits are established, your teacher will move on to other things.


"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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#1435822 - 05/13/10 02:27 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: Kreisler]  
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Yeh, be grateful you've found a good teacher.


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#1435834 - 05/13/10 02:38 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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I do not think it is too much. However in my opinion, playing only one bar for the whole lesson will be too overdo. (Do I understand you correctly on this part?)
I had transfer student with sloppy technique too. I have to constantly correct their hand position, but I still allowed them to finish their pieces (they are lower level than you).


English is my 4th languages, please excuse my grammar. Thanks
#1435840 - 05/13/10 02:49 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
My most recent transfer student came with excellent hand shape, but her fingering is crazy...she does 1-2-3-4-5-5-5-5 on her scale passages,


Smart. Most people's 5th finger starts out weak, and remains so because it is less used than the others.

Fingering like this develops it at an early age, eliminating decades of frustration later when she's forced to do things like trill 4-5.

(I'm trying to channel you-know-who.)


gotta go practice
#1435843 - 05/13/10 02:56 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: TimR]  
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Some of my voice students are lucky if they get to sing more than one syllable for weeks.


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#1436077 - 05/13/10 08:34 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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Sounds like you have an issue with hand position that really needs the correction. Best way to get past this is to work on doing it the teachers way. I wish I had a teacher years ago that had corrected this problem for me, because now I have issues with finger joint pain that I believe are attributed to many years of playing with poor technique.


Retired Army reserve Bandsman who now plays for the Joy of Music!!
#1436211 - 05/14/10 01:57 AM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: RayE]  
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This is some of what she's been teaching me (she sent me an email after my lesson):

Quote
For a little while, please keep turning the hand upside down to feel the natural hand shape and the 'bridge', which is like a fulcrum (like mid-point of a see-saw) when hand is turned right side up, and the little bone swings from this fulcrum.

Scales - just do one octave pausing on each finger, and check the fulcrum/bridge/finger curve and if the finger is playing closer to the nail, so less surface area than how you have been playing on the 'flatter' part of the fingers.

CHORDS - remember to check
1. shape of the hand
2. letting the wrist do the 'follow through' movement downwards to release arm tension.
3. start keeping 'dead still' on the 'stilts' , take a breath, thethe arm sinks the fingers into keys, wrist follows through.

baseball - volley ball - basketball - beach ball - big beach ball
keeping the bridge i.e. don't let the 'landing lights' cave in at any time.[I think she teaches children as well]


That sounds normal, right?

#1436305 - 05/14/10 08:08 AM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: debussyfan]  
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Yep.


"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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#1436336 - 05/14/10 09:18 AM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: Kreisler]  
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Your teacher sounds excellent.

The only thing I can add is...

With this technique stuff, you're ultimately not trying to externally copy how it should look (although how you look is a good indicator of where you're at). You're trying to build an awareness of the internal physical/intellectual/emotional sense of how it feels to play with good technique (or not).

Think of it like Yoga. You're not trying to copy how the instructor looks, you're using their demonstrations to act as a spring board to come to an awareness of what it feels like to move properly for you.

The external look your teacher is describing is right on the money, and it's the RESULT of an internal awareness.



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#1436343 - 05/14/10 09:31 AM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: danshure]  
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Neither the knuckle bridge or the nail joint should 'cave in' as it were. Basic hand position is important tho other shapes will be necessary as the music score dictates.

In playing a Haydn Sonata in HS I never got past the first chord during one lesson. I finally satisfied my teacher but it took almost an hour.

R.

#1436365 - 05/14/10 10:07 AM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: Varcon]  
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Just to offer somewhat of a contrarian viewpoint here: I feel teachers must also assess the intellectual and emotional readiness of the student to focus on just one problem to the exclusion of all others. I have a student, a rather wonderful student at this point, who came to me two years ago with MAJOR, MAJOR problems. One of them was real problems with hand positions, similar to the OPs. It became quite obvious within minutes that he was neither intellectually nor emotionally ready for intense, specific work, so my game plan changed to one of "nudging" him closer and closer to what is necessary, while allowing the reward of working on more repertoire. Had I taken the OPs teacher's approach, I would have lost him at the end of the trial lesson period. This way, he's still improving, but really thrilled with his music.

Peoples egos can be bruised, even with the best of intentions, but it sounds to me like the OP's teacher has done the correct thing, and in fact, the email reminder is a great idea. It will be interesting to learn how future lessons unfold.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#1436373 - 05/14/10 10:13 AM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: Varcon]  
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If you were going to teach someone how to build a brick wall, you'd spend an hour getting the first brick right and then let them finish it.

You probably wouldn't spend 2 minutes doing a mediocre job on the first brick and then repeat that 30 times.

Your teacher isn't teaching you the piece, he's teaching you how to practice. It's your job to figure out how to apply that attitude, knowledge and skill to the next 100 measures.


"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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#1436396 - 05/14/10 10:38 AM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: Kreisler]  
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Wow, I'm so surprised. Thanks everyone smile
Now I feel much more positive about the next lesson wink

#1436423 - 05/14/10 11:38 AM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: debussyfan]  
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As for practice/practise one should look up the definition in a dictionary and understand that it means repetition after repetition and each repetition should be accurate and , hopefully, an improvement with continued application. There is a distinct difference between practice and playing. Exercises are just that--tools to improve playing. Hanon is only one of those tools.

Last edited by Varcon; 05/14/10 11:39 AM.
#1436452 - 05/14/10 12:20 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: Kreisler]  
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
If you were going to teach someone how to build a brick wall, you'd spend an hour getting the first brick right and then let them finish it.
Curious analogy. Surely the point of a wall is to get all the bricks in the right place?


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#1436465 - 05/14/10 12:46 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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The analogy might be more that playing scales is like laying the first course properly. All bricks must be equally spaced, eg the pulse of the scale, and of even height, eg the intensity of each note in the scale.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#1436467 - 05/14/10 12:48 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Yes - it was a quality vs quantity analogy. I didn't find it curious.


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#1436469 - 05/14/10 12:51 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
The analogy might be more that playing scales is like laying the first course properly. All bricks must be equally spaced, eg the pulse of the scale, and of even height, eg the intensity of each note in the scale.
That's better, but it still needs to go up straight as a plum line.


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#1436470 - 05/14/10 12:51 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: danshure]  
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You can't build the wall for the student. You have to show them how to build it themselves.


"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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#1436471 - 05/14/10 12:52 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: Kreisler]  
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
You can't build the wall for the student. You have to show them how to build it themselves.
Yeh, but wander off after the first brick?


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

#1436479 - 05/14/10 01:03 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
Originally Posted by Kreisler
You can't build the wall for the student. You have to show them how to build it themselves.
Yeh, but wander off after the first brick?


You show the student how to learn, how to self teach, how to problem solve, how to be accountable, and how to be independent.

You only "wander off" figuratively as to say you don't leave yourself as an emotional crutch or dependency.


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#1436485 - 05/14/10 01:10 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: danshure]  
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That seems a helluva lot more involved that laying one brick.


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#1436501 - 05/14/10 01:31 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: Kreisler]  
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
You can't build the wall for the student. You have to show them how to build it themselves.


You can show them how, but they will not be able to. An hour on one brick, a day on one brick, isn't enough. It doesn't work that way.

#1436506 - 05/14/10 01:40 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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There was nothing puzzling about the analogy. A particular actn or thing that you learn to do. You apply it to the first note. Then you apply it to the next note. Then you apply it to the third note, then the fourth and fifth. You stop before you lose concentration. But before being able to do any of that in practising, you first have to know how to do it. If it takes half an hour of lesson time, then it takes half an hour. I assume that this is set up in lesson, to be applied in practising afterward. It is easier to remember how to do one thing, and then work on it, than to try to remember a number of things.

#1436511 - 05/14/10 01:50 PM Re: Too much focus on technique? [Re: keystring]  
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Originally Posted by keystring
There was nothing puzzling about the analogy. A particular actn or thing that you learn to do. You apply it to the first note. Then you apply it to the next note. Then you apply it to the third note, then the fourth and fifth. You stop before you lose concentration.


If you don't know how to build a brick wall, or more to the point if you have never taught someone how, then there is nothing puzzling about the analogy.

If you know how to build a brick wall, and if you know how to teach someone how to build a brick wall, then the analogy with building a brick wall leads to the conclusion that spending an hour on hand position is a waste of time.

A brick wall is not built, one brick well done, then the next, then the next.

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