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Self-Teaching Support Thread
#1467424 07/03/10 05:45 AM
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I was wondering whether it might be possible to have a thread that was officially a safe space to talk about self-teaching. I've been searching back threads about the subject, and they seem to all eventually get derailed into arguments that self-teaching dooms one to pianistic heck.

While I respect the right of anyone to believe that, I think it would be a benefit to the community to have a thread, just one thread, where self-instructors can share tips and experiences without being condemned. It seems to me that there are a lot of us doing it but not talking much about it, because it's just not comfortable to bring around here. From my first days on the forum, I have always felt inhibited about talking about my self-teaching experiences, because there's always such a predictable negative response to such discussions.

Or am I just imagining things? Do any other self-teachers feel like I do? Is there even interest in having such a thread? Would we need moderator permission to do this? What do people think?

Last edited by tangleweeds; 07/03/10 05:47 AM.

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Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
tangleweeds #1467427 07/03/10 05:56 AM
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Socrates felt teaching was akin to midwifery. Would you go that alone? Still I'm sure you're welcome to have what you wish in your thread.

Saying that, I'm self learning the violin!

Last edited by keyboardklutz; 07/03/10 06:06 AM.
Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
keyboardklutz #1467431 07/03/10 06:06 AM
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I'm self taught.
I wish I wasn't , but I am. I simply cannot afford lessons.

I know when I have made mistakes, I don't need a teacher to point them out. However it takes me a lot longer to discover exactly why I am making the mistake and how to correct it, than a teacher would take. On my own I acknowledge that I am very much at risk of developing bad technique. However I can only take things slowly and be careful. I cannot change the fact that lessons are too expensive for my budget. My aim is to be a competent piano player though, not a concert pianist.

I don't know if a self taught thread would be of any more benefit than the forum already is to us, but no harm in giving it a try and seeing if it works.

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
Ejay #1467445 07/03/10 06:49 AM
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I'm for it, too. I'm sure the majority of self-teachers here would gladly take lessons, but can't for one reason or another.

I'm curious, what to you various self-teachers (is there a better term?) do to teach yourself piano? There's this forum, of course, but what other resources do you use?

I've read quite a few books on technique: "The Pianist's Problems," by William S. Newman, and "The Art of Piano Playing: A Scientific Approach," by George Kochevitsky, chief among them. I have Barbara Lister-Sink's excellent DVD "Freeing the Caged Bird." I've found a lot of helpful websites and articles through Google. (If you know of one, this is a good place to share it.) Then there's always watching great (and not so great) pianists perform on YouTube, and listening to recordings.

So how do you teach yourself? Or, as in my case, how do you walk through the livingroom blindfolded without banging your shins on the coffee table?

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
tangleweeds #1467446 07/03/10 06:56 AM
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I am a self teach kinda guy. I'd be curious to see how others are working their way through different phases.

I realize having a teacher can help you recognize bad habits and correct techniques etc. But, there si also that level of satisfaction when you've figured out the puzzle on your own.


Started Playing May 2010 at 51 yrs old, Some Self Learning, Lessons X 3yrs
Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
Cobra1365 #1467450 07/03/10 07:05 AM
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But there's always the question, could you have figured it out sooner with a teacher, and so gotten on to other things? And how do you know you've found the best solution?

Self-teaching seems to require a lot of self-reflection and second-guessing. Or maybe I'm just being neurotic.

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
keyboardklutz #1467452 07/03/10 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
Socrates felt teaching was akin to midwifery. Would you go that alone?


Socrates shmocrates. There's a difference between a piece played wrong and a dead baby.

I for one would be very happy to see a thread dedicated to positive energy around self-teaching.

Pianist (after lessons), self-taught guitarist and midwife.

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
ten left thumbs #1467457 07/03/10 07:17 AM
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Hey, I too a self taught guitarist! But only a midwife to artistic expression.

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
keyboardklutz #1467459 07/03/10 07:24 AM
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Can I please ask to stop the references to dead babies.
Some of us have reason to be sensitive to that one.
Thanks

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
keyboardklutz #1467463 07/03/10 07:33 AM
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Self-taught senior citizen here. I can't afford lessons either - Social Security only goes so far. I also only drive on local roads, and can't travel far to a teacher. But it's more than that. I enjoy self teaching, I practice enthusiastically every day, and as someone said above, it's like solving a puzzle. I too have no delusions about becoming anything more than an old lady playing piano to entertain herself. I too can tell if I make a mistake, and I can usually find information here on Piano World to help me correct those mistakes.

I use primarily the Alfred Adult All-in-one book, and have several other books either given to me or purchased used from Ebay for variety. I read both this forum and the teacher's forum, and use what information works for me, and leave the rest behind.

I actually don't feel intimidated on the ABF forum, as I know that there are a lot of us who started out self-teaching, and a lot of us who will continue to do so. Do I believe that I would make better progress with a teacher. Of course I do. But I also think the strain of keeping up with assignments might just take the fun out of it too.

If there is a self-teaching thread, I will participate in it.


mom3gram


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Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
Ejay #1467472 07/03/10 07:43 AM
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The first thing I did, was look back at the mistakes in my guitar experience. My parents , not knowing any better, sent me to guitar lessons as they could not buy me a piano. The teacher was as useful as a chocolate teapot.
In my first years with him, he gave me photocopied music, and some half decent method books. Only as a child, I did what he wrote in my notebook and that was it. I did the exercises and the pieces. I skipped the theory in the music books, and as an 8 year old I really should have had theory presented in a much easier to understand format, never mind it being ignored altogether.

It didn't take long before I was the star pupil, prospective students came for their trial lesson before mine, so they could stay and hear me play. Their parents were no more knowledgeable than mine, it sounded good, therefore it must be good.

When he eventually put me forward for grade 3 exam, I had to learn all the theory, prepare for aural etc by myself. I had a month to learn scales !!

The lesson I have learned is that theory and scales are important. If something sounds good, that is not the sole indicator that it is good. I realise that no single method book will teach me everything. The pieces in Alfred's I view as exercises, foundation building blocks. I supplement with Czerny studies as well as scale , broken chord and arpeggio techniques. I learn chords in inversions and understand how they are built. I try to learn a piece by looking at the music, by look around me and then back to the music, then close my eyes, then look at the keys. It is surprising how focusing on different things gives a different awareness of finger movement and positioning, and dynamics.

Forums like this, with its variety of opinions are invaluable.
You tube is useful, so long as you can tell the difference between a bad performance and a good one.


Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
Ejay #1467473 07/03/10 07:45 AM
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Here's a good website:

http://www.musicalfossils.com/

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
moscheles001 #1467476 07/03/10 08:03 AM
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Here's a nice quote from Fossils:
Quote
In my B major scale example, if I play an A-natural instead of an A sharp, that's what I'm learning to do. If I say to myself, "No! That's not right! It should be an A-sharp!" as I play it wrong, it makes no difference. If I get mad at myself and call myself a stupid imbecile, it still makes no more difference than if I swear at my computer.

Most of us are confused and think this kind of talking helps us learn, as if announcing our mistakes somehow makes us improve. It doesn't. Perhaps these words are more to protect our own egos as if announcing the mistake first will keep anyone else from accusing us of making one. This is like a preemptive internal attack to ward off an external attack.
http://www.musicalfossils.com/kin.html

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
keyboardklutz #1467478 07/03/10 08:11 AM
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How true.
It is so easy to practice mistakes.

What do you think is the correct approach to fixing a recognised mistake ?

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
Ejay #1467480 07/03/10 08:14 AM
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Quote
Words can be useful though. They can be used to help us diagnose an error and guide us to the difference in the kinesthetic sensation between the correct and incorrect key. For example, "I'm playing an A-natural instead of an A-sharp. How does it feel different under my fingers as I play the A-sharp instead of an A-natural? It's a black key and, in fact, feels quite different from the white key of A-natural. So this is what I need to feel under my finger when I get here."

Having reached this point, words are no longer useful. The sensation of the correct key is the information pertinent to playing it right. Feeling the sensation of the A-sharp is the crucial information: sensation that words cannot adequately describe.

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
Ejay #1467483 07/03/10 08:23 AM
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Hi, self taught here too. I'm afraid of the possibilty that having a teacher (or searching for the "perfect" one) would make piano work, and not fun, as it has been for the past year.

I honestly would rather play badly than not play at all.


Learning to play since June 2009.
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Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
keyboardklutz #1467485 07/03/10 08:27 AM
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blush Yeah I know.. read the rest of the article before replying.. LOL , I will read the rest , when toddler goes to bed , I don't always learn best while a two year old is jumping up and down on top of me.

I can't resist asking though, how do we do this in practice ?
Is it stop, repeat and see what we are doing wrong, then repeat slowly , just the immediate notes around the mistake , repeating the correct motion? Should we look at the fingers , if we keep hitting the wrong note, until it is corrected ?

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
keyboardklutz #1467486 07/03/10 08:27 AM
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It can help to ask why the mistake occurred. Sometimes, I'll repeatedly make a mistake in one hand, only to discover it's because the other hand is not secure in what it should be doing at that point; fixing that hand fixes the other hand, too.

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
moscheles001 #1467502 07/03/10 09:18 AM
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Agreed. There are many 'types' of mistake - one grievance I have against teachers is they often just correct, rather than help you search for the source of error.

Re: Self-Teaching Support Thread
Ejay #1467508 07/03/10 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Ejay
Is it stop, repeat and see what we are doing wrong, then repeat slowly , just the immediate notes around the mistake , repeating the correct motion? Should we look at the fingers , if we keep hitting the wrong note, until it is corrected ?


I often watch my hands when I miss a note. I am still working on being able to sense exactly what my fingers/hands/arms are doing while playing. But I have an incomplete sense of what that all looks like, so often I can identify what is not working right by watching myself play. I would try then to look at the fingers to correct the problem, then look away from your fingers and remember what that feels like.


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
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