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Chinese pianists
#2185164 11/19/13 02:15 PM
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I've noticed that many pianists that emerge from China share a very high level of precision. Perhaps one of the finest examples of this is Yundi Li (Li Yundi). His technique is wildly precise and efficient. It's almost inhuman. This recording of La Campanella (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiJcXAuOMNU) is executed with more virtuosity than any pianist I have ever seen, and he clearly demonstrates a more capable technical facility than many pianists on the world stage.

My question is, what does early training for Eastern pianists look like? What methods are used by their teachers that necessarily endows them with such a divine level of precision and visibly clean and efficient execution of their repertoire?

If any of you were trained using these Eastern methods, please tell.
Other comments on this?

Re: Chinese pianists
Atrys #2185167 11/19/13 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Atrys
many pianists that emerge from China... very high level of precision... almost inhuman...

Uh-oh... (If this thread remains well-behaved I'll eat my hat.)

-J

Re: Chinese pianists
beet31425 #2185314 11/19/13 06:04 PM
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One (or rather, two) words:

Tiger mother (and father).


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Chinese pianists
Atrys #2185350 11/19/13 07:18 PM
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early start, more rigorous and demanding parents and probably government involvement as well. Nothing to do with race it's culture. Basically as Bennevis said. Also look at the pianist from the Soviet Union, very strict early rigorous training courtesy of "The Big Red Machine". Of course the difference from the end product the Soviets produced was much different due to the rich musical history from all over Europe not just Eastern.




Re: Chinese pianists
Atrys #2185546 11/20/13 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Atrys
I've noticed that many pianists that emerge from China share a very high level of precision. Perhaps one of the finest examples of this is Yundi Li (Li Yundi). His technique is wildly precise and efficient. It's almost inhuman. This recording of La Campanella (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiJcXAuOMNU) is executed with more virtuosity than any pianist I have ever seen, and he clearly demonstrates a more capable technical facility than many pianists on the world stage.

My question is, what does early training for Eastern pianists look like? What methods are used by their teachers that necessarily endows them with such a divine level of precision and visibly clean and efficient execution of their repertoire?

If any of you were trained using these Eastern methods, please tell.
Other comments on this?

I was going to reply but until I read that you consider Yundi Li's La Campanella "is executed with more virtuosity than any pianist I have ever seen, and he clearly demonstrates a more capable technical facility than many pianists on the world stage."

Just some general thought: "precision" is not a good deciding factor for pianists. With your logic, Cortot/Richter/Horowitz/Gilels would be ranked much lower than Yundi Li.

Re: Chinese pianists
Atrys #2185659 11/20/13 11:41 AM
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Many children in China have a teacher for piano lessons and another teacher (or TA) who gets paid to monitor the children's daily practice sessions. That way, no practice hour goes wasted. There's really no secret about it. Some Chinese immigrants to the US follow the same model of hiring two teachers. Heck, I'm using that idea for some of my own students!


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Chinese pianists
AZNpiano #2185669 11/20/13 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Many children in China have a teacher for piano lessons and another teacher (or TA) who gets paid to monitor the children's daily practice sessions. That way, no practice hour goes wasted. There's really no secret about it. Some Chinese immigrants to the US follow the same model of hiring two teachers. Heck, I'm using that idea for some of my own students!


Russians would do the same but also add the very important appreciation for other arts; paintings, literary, nature, voice & orchestral musical. That is how one produces artists such as Horowitz & Richter. Simply practicing tirelessly the piano alone will not make a great pianist, just a good technician.






Re: Chinese pianists
Atrys #2185673 11/20/13 12:16 PM
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True, I'm sure that discipline plays a huge role in shaping such a precise technique. I also wonder if there's a great deal of slow(er) practice in the early stages of training to set the stage for the almost robot-like (in the sense that they're very precise and consistent) movements that are seen with pianists like Yundi or Yuja.


"A good intention but fixed and resolute - bent on high and holy ends, we shall find means to them on every side and at every moment; and even obstacles and opposition will but make us 'like the fabled specter-ships,' which sail the fastest in the very teeth of the wind."
R. W. Emerson
Re: Chinese pianists
AZNpiano #2185683 11/20/13 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Many children in China have a teacher for piano lessons and another teacher (or TA) who gets paid to monitor the children's daily practice sessions. That way, no practice hour goes wasted. There's really no secret about it. Some Chinese immigrants to the US follow the same model of hiring two teachers. Heck, I'm using that idea for some of my own students!


Back in the 1960's, my late piano teacher Bob Weaver, along with two other faculty members, decided as an experiment to dispense with lessons for his high school students. Instead, they would have four or five students in adjoining practice rooms all playing at the same time.

Then, they would go from room to room correcting mistakes. Well, after almost dying from sheer exhaustion at the end of the semester, they abandoned the project.

However, every single student went on to graduate from college with a degree in music, and they are all today fully employed classical musicians. It works!

Re: Chinese pianists
Atrys #2185760 11/20/13 02:23 PM
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In addition to what has been already said about the early practice habits (which is probably the biggest role), I'd say bone structure/hand physiology has something to do with it too. Leon Fleisher noted that in his teaching career, there were lots of asian students who could simply get around very fast/fleet fingered things (Like Liszt Feux Follets and Chopin op. 10 no. 2) "better than I could ever hope to in public". They just have a certain dexterity, and certain slightness that makes for better fleetness.

I've lately been teaching a lot of Chinese 2 and 3 year old beginners, and they are all able to play a perfect C major chord on the first try (perfect hand position, no other fingers smudging down). I've not seen this ability with any other ethnicity, and I don't think that it's particularly because of hard work, it's just something inborn.

Re: Chinese pianists
Opus_Maximus #2185782 11/20/13 03:05 PM
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[quote=
I've lately been teaching a lot of Chinese 2 and 3 year old beginners, and they are all able to play a perfect C major chord on the first try (perfect hand position, no other fingers smudging down). I've not seen this ability with any other ethnicity, and I don't think that it's particularly because of hard work, it's just something inborn. [/quote]

Perhaps physiology may play a part or that the 2 & 3 year olds have already been exposed to the piano in their home. After all any parents willing to put kids that young into structured lessons must already play or have a older sibling, relative that plays. I know my daughter will have some familiarity with the piano before her first structured lesson.




Re: Chinese pianists
Miguel Rey #2185830 11/20/13 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Miguel Rey

Perhaps physiology may play a part or that the 2 & 3 year olds have already been exposed to the piano in their home. After all any parents willing to put kids that young into structured lessons must already play or have a older sibling, relative that plays. I know my daughter will have some familiarity with the piano before her first structured lesson.

I know a Chinese family very well, who have five children. When the first child started lessons at five, he was no more able than any child of any other ethnicity to get his hands in the right positions. In fact, it was several weeks before he could play two notes together simultaneously with one hand, without asynchronicity or smudging. But his siblings all started 'playing around' on the piano long before they had formal lessons, and naturally, they imitated what their older brother did. And of course, they could already play a three note chord perfectly on their first lesson, as well as simple tunes.

There was nothing innate about their musical ability, or 'technique'. Their parents ingrained into them a strong work ethic from when they were very young - including learning to speak properly (no 'baby language' stuff), counting, reading.......and music. They were constantly encouraged to believe in themselves, that they could accomplish anything if they worked hard enough at it, and that nothing in life came free on a plate. Laziness, 'tiredness', boredom etc were no excuses.

And of course, success breeds further success......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Chinese pianists
bennevis #2185890 11/20/13 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Miguel Rey

Perhaps physiology may play a part or that the 2 & 3 year olds have already been exposed to the piano in their home. After all any parents willing to put kids that young into structured lessons must already play or have a older sibling, relative that plays. I know my daughter will have some familiarity with the piano before her first structured lesson.

I know a Chinese family very well, who have five children. . . But his siblings all started 'playing around' on the piano long before they had formal lessons, and naturally, they imitated what their older brother did.

And of course, success breeds further success......


God bless America, where we don't mandate population control, even though there are those "progressives" who secretly desire such. The Chinese family Lang Lang grew up in didn't have five children.

When Christopher Guzman, from San Antonio, was admitted to the freshman class as a piano major at Juilliard, in the early part of this century, he was the only American citizen accepted that year. That says to me that out of 330 million people in this country, there were Chinese, Ukranians, et al, who were better qualified than the rest of all of the piano students in this country.

The best thing my father did for me was to have the (verbal) fight with my mother when I was 12 years old. She said: well, I want him to take piano lessons, and my father, the physician/pianist, said: well, what does he want to do?

My mother answered: well, he wants to play baseball with his friends. My father then said: well, then that is what he is going to do.

That, dear friends, is why I did not grow up in a practice room devoid of natural human experience. And, for the record, you can hear the difference in my music.

So much for the Chinese "work ethic," wherein if you are not fortunate enough, by birth, to live in a non-rural area of mainland China, your work ethic is waking up before the sun rises to harvest rice or tea all day long.


Re: Chinese pianists
Louis Podesta #2185892 11/20/13 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Louis Podesta
[...]When Christopher Guzman, from San Antonio, was admitted to the freshman class as a piano major at Juilliard, in the early part of this century, he was the only American citizen accepted that year. That says to me that out of 330 million people in this country, there were Chinese, Ukranians, et al, who were better qualified than the rest of all of the piano students in this country.
[...]


Your logic is false, I would suggest. You are suggesting that all American piano students who applied at that time applied to Juilliard. Rather, you should say that of all the American pianists who applied to Juilliard at the time Mr. Guzman applied, he was the only American accepted. There may well have been many other American pianists who, knowing of the reputed cut-throat existence at Juilliard along with the high cost of living in New York may well have applied and been accepted elsewhere. They might also been as fine musicians, or even better, than some of those accepted at Juilliard.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Chinese pianists
BruceD #2185898 11/20/13 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by Louis Podesta
[...]When Christopher Guzman, from San Antonio, was admitted to the freshman class as a piano major at Juilliard, in the early part of this century, he was the only American citizen accepted that year. That says to me that out of 330 million people in this country, there were Chinese, Ukranians, et al, who were better qualified than the rest of all of the piano students in this country.
[...]


Your logic is false, I would suggest. You are suggesting that all American piano students who applied at that time applied to Juilliard. Rather, you should say that of all the American pianists who applied to Juilliard at the time Mr. Guzman applied, he was the only American accepted. There may well have been many other American pianists who, knowing of the reputed cut-throat existence at Juilliard along with the high cost of living in New York may well have applied and been accepted elsewhere. They might also been as fine musicians, or even better, than some of those accepted at Juilliard.

Regards,


As someone, from the "Great White North," who also does not consider me a philosopher (who knows one or two things about logic, causality and its associated dynamics), you assume a falsehood.

Absent your affiliation with how people apply to colleges and universities in the U.S., I can assure you that a whole bunch of people applied to Juilliard that year, and also years after.

This is the Chair, since 1997, of the Piano Division at Juilliard. She is not a U.S. citizen, by a long stretch.

Further, her big calling card is that, if you a talented person of non-U.S. birth, she can get you an agent. And, that is why you should attend Juilliard!

http://www.juilliard.edu/faculty/yoheved-kaplinsky?destination=node/19596

Re: Chinese pianists
Atrys #2185907 11/20/13 07:17 PM
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Once again, my apologies: it should read "if you are a talented person of non-U.S. birth."

P.S. I was raised by my father to detest chauvinism. What this involves, as opposed to xenophobia, is an answer to the promotion of the philosophy, (which under Mao was deemed non-State) of what is now considered the cultural message of the Nation of mainland China.

Re: Chinese pianists
Louis Podesta #2185909 11/20/13 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Louis Podesta
That, dear friends, is why I did not grow up in a practice room devoid of natural human experience. And, for the record, you can hear the difference in my music.

All right, out with it, once and for all. Let's hear this marvelous music of yours, so we can be enlightened. wink


Regards,

Polyphonist
Re: Chinese pianists
Louis Podesta #2185914 11/20/13 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Louis Podesta

When Christopher Guzman, from San Antonio, was admitted to the freshman class as a piano major at Juilliard, in the early part of this century, he was the only American citizen accepted that year. That says to me that out of 330 million people in this country, there were Chinese, Ukranians, et al, who were better qualified than the rest of all of the piano students in this country.

As Bruce already pointed out, your conclusion is completely invalid. In order for it to hold true, you have to assume that all piano students native to the US applied to Julliard, which of course, is not true.

@Miguel Rey
That's really interesting! I wouldn't be surprised if the physiology (particularly of the hand up to the shoulder) of a given race is identifiable as it applies to "piano potential".



"A good intention but fixed and resolute - bent on high and holy ends, we shall find means to them on every side and at every moment; and even obstacles and opposition will but make us 'like the fabled specter-ships,' which sail the fastest in the very teeth of the wind."
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Re: Chinese pianists
Atrys #2186065 11/21/13 02:15 AM
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In fairness, Podesta, BruceD lived for many years and taught French at the high school level in this country at a prestigious girls academy, so he may know a thing or two about college application processes.

But, aside from that, you are totally right: All SERIOUS pianists - who have achieved a high level by their teen years - will apply to Juilliard at least once in their life, American or non.

Re: Chinese pianists
Atrys #2186069 11/21/13 02:25 AM
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Wait just a second here.

so it's Juliard or death?!?! Come on... I can't believe this. It certainly doesn't apply to composition, so why would it apply to piano I wonder. I mean is there something wrong with CSMDP? Or some other huge institution of some sort?

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