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If I did have a teacher......
#1764195 10/03/11 08:25 PM
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So, for any of the more challenging pieces that I learn, like many of you, I not only listen to professional recordings, but also YouTube for interpretations that I really like, and also "sanity checks" to make sure that I'm playing the notes correctly.

Anyway, I stumbled across this whilst learning Invention 1:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBI_0gml6Z0

What a terrific teacher!! If I did have a teacher, she is what I would want. She is helping this student (10 year old) with interpretation, voicing and dynamics, and this is something I'd want a teacher to help me with if I'm paying her/him my hard-earned money.

Anyway, that's all...and now back to practice. grin



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Re: If I did have a teacher......
CebuKid #1764229 10/03/11 09:12 PM
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I like some of the techniques she uses, the singing, listening to different hands as an exercise in bringing out one voice or the other dynamically, and pointing out the significance of particular notes (the C# in this case) that are pivotal.

One thing I noticed is how she didn't let the child decide what was important to bring out. This is where the student needs to learn how to be a musician, and they don't learn just be being told but by being given options or learning how to look at what's going on in the music and learning how to decide from that. She was teaching the student how to play like her, and I do think that is a shame since I'm sure the student also has beautiful things to say. I wouldn't call her a bad teacher, but whenever a teacher imposes their musical opinion on another musician it undermines their belief in their own musicality. Then they trust everyone else's ideas besides their own, from what I've seen.


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Re: If I did have a teacher......
Morodiene #1764236 10/03/11 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
I like some of the techniques she uses, the singing, listening to different hands as an exercise in bringing out one voice or the other dynamically, and pointing out the significance of particular notes (the C# in this case) that are pivotal.

One thing I noticed is how she didn't let the child decide what was important to bring out. This is where the student needs to learn how to be a musician, and they don't learn just be being told but by being given options or learning how to look at what's going on in the music and learning how to decide from that. She was teaching the student how to play like her, and I do think that is a shame since I'm sure the student also has beautiful things to say. I wouldn't call her a bad teacher, but whenever a teacher imposes their musical opinion on another musician it undermines their belief in their own musicality. Then they trust everyone else's ideas besides their own, from what I've seen.


That's a good point, Morodiene, and didn't think about it that way. And I do see how she's trying to impose her interpretation on the young student. Because I myself am teacher-less, I often try to "copy" my favorite pro interpretation when playing pieces, but always end up with my own - so I do see what you mean about having one's own musical opinion. smile For example, Rifkin is my standard for most Joplin pieces but every time, my interpretation always ends up more "juanty-sounding" than his. (and of course, I'm nothing compared to him....)

That said Morodiene, what would your approach be for an adult intermediate like myself? Would it be as you describe above - asking me how I would interpret the piece, the measure, the phrase, etc? I don't want a teacher who shows me scales or technical exercises, but rather, I envision coming prepared to my lesson with a piece that I'm working on and getting lessons on dynamics and interpretation and perhaps some technique.


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Re: If I did have a teacher......
CebuKid #1764256 10/03/11 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by CebuKid
Originally Posted by Morodiene
I like some of the techniques she uses, the singing, listening to different hands as an exercise in bringing out one voice or the other dynamically, and pointing out the significance of particular notes (the C# in this case) that are pivotal.

One thing I noticed is how she didn't let the child decide what was important to bring out. This is where the student needs to learn how to be a musician, and they don't learn just be being told but by being given options or learning how to look at what's going on in the music and learning how to decide from that. She was teaching the student how to play like her, and I do think that is a shame since I'm sure the student also has beautiful things to say. I wouldn't call her a bad teacher, but whenever a teacher imposes their musical opinion on another musician it undermines their belief in their own musicality. Then they trust everyone else's ideas besides their own, from what I've seen.


That's a good point, Morodiene, and didn't think about it that way. And I do see how she's trying to impose her interpretation on the young student. Because I myself am teacher-less, I often try to "copy" my favorite pro interpretation when playing pieces, but always end up with my own - so I do see what you mean about having one's own musical opinion. smile For example, Rifkin is my standard for most Joplin pieces but every time, my interpretation always ends up more "juanty-sounding" than his. (and of course, I'm nothing compared to him....)

That said Morodiene, what would your approach be for an adult intermediate like myself? Would it be as you describe above - asking me how I would interpret the piece, the measure, the phrase, etc? I don't want a teacher who shows me scales or technical exercises, but rather, I envision coming prepared to my lesson with a piece that I'm working on and getting lessons on dynamics and interpretation and perhaps some technique.


CebuKid, just a quick comment. Even the great painters imitated other painters. Listening to other people's interpretations is a great way to learn, as long as it represents a part of a long process of discovering your own musical style and understanding the music you are playing.


"You are the music while the music lasts" - T.S. Eliot
Re: If I did have a teacher......
CebuKid #1764306 10/04/11 12:08 AM
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She is Music32 on this forum.

Re: If I did have a teacher......
CebuKid #1764493 10/04/11 09:32 AM
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Music32 does have some good tips. One in particular, that I remember, was her teaching tip on the 2 octave C scale, which has always given me grief. It has to do with the fourth finger follows the fourth of the other hand. Simple, but it really work for me.

Quote
I don't want a teacher who shows me scales or technical exercises, but rather, I envision coming prepared to my lesson with a piece that I'm working on and getting lessons on dynamics and interpretation and perhaps some technique.


I am not sure there is a way around this.

I recently started taking lessons after three years of working on my own. While I have suspected I play with tension, my teacher easily and quickly identified that I do play with a great deal of tension. Mostly in my shoulders, wrist & hands... not much that is not, is there?

We are using scales and Hannon to try and loosen and relax those areas incorporating various movements like rolls, rise and falls. She identified that I have a lazy cross under with the thumb and has given me exercises to speed and improve that movement. These things are necessary to improve my finger speed, accuracy, and touch- so that I will be able to play the type of music that I want to play. We spend approximately the first 1/3 of the lesson working on these things.

She is very strict on posture and position... I am so reminded here of grade school when being told "sit up straight" and I can't help but crack a smile. She is strict on playing what is written, but is open to the way I interpret the music. All of her suggestions "otherwise", I have quickly agreed upon, as it is easily an improvement.

The other two thirds of the lesson is going back through my repertoire to correct all of the things that I have missed or learned incorrectly. And, there is a bunch of them- like missed ties, misread notes, duple against triple... etc, etc. We are working out of a theory book, which is mostly homework, and not much time is spent on this in lesson.

Funny, I thought the first item to be addressed would be my very poor music reading skills. It has not been the case so far, although I am sure we will address that in the near future.

This has got to be longest post I have ever posted here on the PW forum and I apologize for the length, but it has forced me to analyze what I am getting for my buck, and I would say it is a great deal... in more ways than one. smile








Re: If I did have a teacher......
Strings & Wood #1764498 10/04/11 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Strings & Wood
Quote
I don't want a teacher who shows me scales or technical exercises, but rather, I envision coming prepared to my lesson with a piece that I'm working on and getting lessons on dynamics and interpretation and perhaps some technique.


I am not sure there is a way around this.

I recently started taking lessons after three years of working on my own. While I have suspected I play with tension, my teacher easily and quickly identified that I do play with a great deal of tension. Mostly in my shoulders, wrist & hands... not much that is not, is there?


+1

While you have to go into lessons with a clear idea of what you want to achieve, going in with a set of "dos and don'ts" will be counter productive. In my lessons we've gone off and on Hanon, off and on scales, each time using them for a specific purpose and then moving on.

Right now we're in a "back on" phase to get technique to the next level. Then we'll probably back off for a while.

But we do definitely discuss all the cool stuff about phrasing, voicing, dynamics that you want too.


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Re: If I did have a teacher......
CebuKid #1764511 10/04/11 10:12 AM
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Strings and Wood and Andy Platt make some very nice points. I have had two teachers in the almost two years I have played piano. The first did not have me work on scales, pretty much let me play anything I wanted and thought was beautiful(well, within certain limits) talked a boat-load about interpretation etc. etc. but in retrospect didn't do much to correct my poor technique. Looking back, I could play the notes, but I couldn't really enact any of my ideas regarding interpretation because I didn't have the necessary tools to do it. My second teacher does all of the things that you say that you don't want (in your second post). I have played technical exercises up the wazoo, I have done my scales and arpeggios. I have played MUCH MUCH easier music.....and I am as happy as a clam doing so. I love my new teacher. I have no doubt that my hard-earned dollars are well spent working on technique with her!!


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Re: If I did have a teacher......
Andy Platt #1764616 10/04/11 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy Platt
In my lessons we've gone off and on Hanon, off and on scales, each time using them for a specific purpose and then moving on.

That's the key right there, a specific purpose. I think it's a balance of technique and working on pieces that get you closer to your goal that works best. I usually have a student show me what they want to play, and then I think to myself, "What technique exercises should I use to get them there?" I sometimes tell parents that I'll sneak in theory and technique while teaching their kid. The main thing for me as a teacher is to keep students engaged, so they are actually excited to practice.

By the way, I hate doing exercises myself, but I do love what they do for my playing. Necessary evils, some of them.


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Re: If I did have a teacher......
CebuKid #1764619 10/04/11 02:03 PM
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Strings&Wood/Carl - thanks for the post about your lessons. It's fascinating, and really helpful, to hear what a good teacher's priorities are - the "less tension" will result in "more music" I guess smile At any rate, I'm glad they're doing good things for you. I've been working on the less tenseness for a good while now, and I think it's helped immensely. I have a long way to go to get good musically, tho.

Cathy


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Re: If I did have a teacher......
jotur #1764732 10/04/11 05:51 PM
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Thanks for the comments everyone! I am genuinely interested in how the other 58% of us who do work with teachers.

Some comments I had:

* What IS technique?? Is it posture, wrist position, hand position, fingering decisions, lack of tension, etc?? ..all of the above? I know my technique sucks because I don't look "pianistic" at all when I watch myself on videos.. grin Myself and others have posted inquiries on what constitutes "technique" but I guess I'd have to find a teacher to point out what exactly is flawed with my technique...just as some of you with teachers have done.

* Tension is HUGE for me, and I still fight it. Maple Leaf Rag really exposed my tension and I couldn't play this piece at tempo for a long time. I had previously gotten away somehow with tension. If I had a teacher, I probably would've learnt it quicker. I can definitely see where tension or lack of technique would limit one from playing a piece.

* As I delve into Baroque and Classical where interpretation is everything, this usually sparks my interest in a teacher.

Anyway, good commentary. Thanks again.


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Re: If I did have a teacher......
CebuKid #1764952 10/05/11 02:01 AM
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Studying with a teacher can be a really rewarding experience. It is definitely worth the cost for me. Usually after I bring a piece to my lesson and my teacher listens to it, he says that he likes certain sections as they are so we leave those. He then asks me why certain sections are played a certain way (indicating that he didn't like the interpretations there very much) and I would have to come up with a good reason. If there is no good reason, then we find a better way to do it. Sometimes I do have a good reason and we leave it. My lessons are very fast paced and I'm expected to do most of the fine-tuning at home.

When I was a beginner and intermediate student, I never had any teachers ask me to decide on an interpretation but I somehow learned to by osmosis anyway. Being in orchestra, having theory lessons, and attending many professional concerts probably helped. A lot of piano teachers forget to expose kids to music other than piano music and that's a shame too.

Re: If I did have a teacher......
CebuKid #1764968 10/05/11 02:46 AM
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Originally Posted by CebuKid
* What IS technique?? Is it posture, wrist position, hand position, fingering decisions, lack of tension, etc?? ..all of the above?
Yes, all of the above. The basic mechanics of playing piano. But I would also consider technique the thinking process of knowing your key, note recognition and those sort of things. All the parts of playing piano that don't include emotion or interpretation. Basically, if you can't play what you hear in your head, then it's probably a lack of technique that holds you back.

Originally Posted by CebuKid
* Tension is HUGE for me, and I still fight it. Maple Leaf Rag really exposed my tension and I couldn't play this piece at tempo for a long time. I had previously gotten away somehow with tension. If I had a teacher, I probably would've learnt it quicker. I can definitely see where tension or lack of technique would limit one from playing a piece.
Rag is tough to not play with tension, especially in the left hand. Practice relaxing your fingers as soon as you strike the key. Holding tension in your fingers will make you far less accurate, and make your whole hand tired.


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Re: If I did have a teacher......
CebuKid #1764987 10/05/11 03:49 AM
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Hi CebuKid,

What is technique?

I can not tell you the truth but I can tell you what I think and what I have discovered.
You use your body motions to play the piano (incl fingers, hands etc.) So the piano sounds just the way as you move. And to say generally - technique is a way of moving your body so that it is easy to express yourself, the tensions do not gather and the motions suit with details of piano mechanism.

So all the things that you mentioned are parts of piano technique. There is a tremendous difference how to play and which technique to use. I can say that technique of some pianists can be tens of times more accurate and managing than others. And this is due to right motions that can knowingly be changed. So there are simple things that just work.

Tension -

Tensions come out of motions that need a lot of effort while being used for playing the piano. And also from lack of relaxing during the playing process.

GL
Jaak

P.S.
I did not put certain tips into the posting here. But I have a free piano course from where you can get a sythesis and best part of many technical approaches. I invite you to join.


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