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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237556
02/25/14 06:33 PM
02/25/14 06:33 PM
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I know I said I wasn't going to comment on this anymore but technically this isn't my comment, it's from another piano site. I re-edited it a little bit so it's an arrangement of me and them so make of that what you will. I think it speaks for itself and now I will try to do what I said and stay out of any further conversation about the Liszt piece in this context.

"The argument is that one makes more rapid progress by devoting more practice time to works that are only a small step above one's current abilities, as opposed to trying to leap into terribly difficult things from the get-go.

I think that the most rapid learning comes from playing a mixture of things: easy pieces requiring little effort, pieces already well-learned ("finished"), modestly challenging pieces, and a few really tough ones. if you don't push yourself past your limits, how will you even know where they are?

This approach also allows for one of the most important things in music--artistic growth. In order to progress in our abilities, we have to challenge ourselves. this means playing things that are outside our current abilities, and in the process of learning how to play them, our technique becomes better. during this learning process, the piece will as a rule not sound good, but what is important is that there is progress being made."


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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: BrainCramp] #2237567
02/25/14 06:54 PM
02/25/14 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by BrainCramp
Originally Posted by Stubbie
Originally Posted by TwoSnowflakes
Originally Posted by Derulux

Honestly, I was hoping he would at least look deeper than the surface of the analogy, and possibly open a dialogue about it. But when someone glosses over your entire post and vaguely responds with something that clearly misses the point of the entire post (and does so more than once), it's obvious they're either not understanding or completely ignoring what you wrote. I'm happy to disagree about a topic for quite a long time, as long as we're talking intelligently about it. But right now, I don't feel like that's possible because the OP is too closed off to it.




I am inclined to agree. On the other hand, what you're saying is enormously prudent and how this conversation has gone is probably useful simply for the third party observers of it who are wondering how to go about improving their skills in a cogent fashion more than the OP himself.

Heck, it even helps me reinforce my efforts to put the work in at the basic levels and give me a chance to step back and see why I'm doing that. I sat down today and worked more on my Schumann than my Shostakovich. The Farmer is Happy indeed.


+1. Exactly. Wise words indeed.

This thread succeeds on the level of being a cautionary tale for the rest of us.

The ABRSM (U.K.) Teachers Forum has had a similar thread going in the past week or so. It's about adult students who play what they want regardless of their abilities and no matter what the teacher tries to tell them.

It's amusing - if you're not the teacher!

Here's the link to it. Its title is "Adult who charges through the book but can't play the pieces":
http://www.abrsm.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=55454

Sometimes there's a difference in paradigms, or principles, between the teacher and the student. The teacher wants to follow a process, knowing that process will get the student where they want to go. The teacher values the process more than the results, knowing that the results are a natural effect of the process that caused it.

Before I bring this full circle, let me first define a term: beginner. By "beginner", I mean someone who has never reached the pinnacle of any endeavor. I make this distinction because the "love of process" necessary to succeed exists across all skills. The process itself may be different, but the principles that lead one to value the process do not. So, if someone has never reached that pinnacle, they are usually still at a "beginner" level trying to understand the value behind the process. (This can happen to quite advanced students, not just "day-one beginners"; hence my distinction.)

Now, full circle. Beginners, as I've defined it, tend to be inclined to value results. Their goal is the result, and so is either self-fulfilling or entirely baffling. Example: say you set your goal to be, "I want to play Liszt's La Campanella." How do you measure your goal? Well, I think it's obvious that we measure it by seeing whether you can play the piece. If you can, great! You hit your goal. But if you can't, then what? Your goal was the result, so there's nothing left for you to analyze in order to improve.

If, however, you break down the skill sets necessary, and the practice regimen necessary to achieve the results, this process becomes much easier. Say you set a goal to be: "I am going to reduce the tension in my playing over the next month, so that by next month, I am no longer jamming up my 3rd and 4th fingers and mashing notes together; those notes will be even." Now, we still haven't gotten specific enough yet, but you can use this more specific model to set measurable benchmarks that will help you get to that goal, and you can measure your progress. If you don't hit your goal, you can then take a look at the process you used to get there and refine as necessary.

The idea here is that, when you set a goal, ask yourself "how" you will achieve it. If there's a "how" that isn't expressed in the goal, then add it. Look at the new goal. Ask "how" again. Answer and add. Repeat until you've really gotten to the specific thing you need to do to reach your ultimate result. Whatever that first step is, that's your actual goal. Once conquered, move on to step two. Then three, then four, etc until you reach that final result you targeted way back when you said, "I want to learn La Campanella."

Now, full circle: beginners do not understand or value this process, or goal-based thinking. They see a result and want to sprint towards it like someone dying of thirst in a desert who sees "water" (mirage). When they get where they think they wanted to go, they look around and realize they're not even close to where they wanted to be. Why? They built the road without planning in what direction they would build, set no benchmarks along the way to check whether they had deviated from their plan, and have no ultimate point on the horizon towards which they are traveling. (The point they do choose is often over the horizon and unsuitable for use in this fashion.)

If the beginner stays in this mode of thinking, the teacher cannot ever help the student reach their goals. All they can do is allow the student to enjoy their time, tinkering away and seeing minimal results. If, however, the student is serious about the undertaking, then it is the teacher's job to show them how to build the road, starting with "process".

I find very often that most student-teacher disconnects of this kind revolve around practice. Now, there is no "universal practice" method, but there are methods which are more successful than others. Typically, the student has not discovered one of these methods, so the teacher will need to show them what to do and how to do it. Saying, "Practice this," is not enough. The teacher needs to explain what "practice" means -- down to the most ridiculously minute detail (or until the student "gets it").

Having these kinds of conversations with students leads to one of two things: a) a renewed vigor on the part of the student to employ this wonderful method they have just been exposed to, leading to huge improvements in a short span of time; 2) the student will decide they don't love the endeavor enough to pursue it in that fashion. If #2 happens, the teacher and student then have a choice. The teacher must decide if they want to continue to work with the student, and the student must decide if they want to continue pursuit of the thing being taught. Whether they continue to work together will be determined by the answer to that crucial question.. but at least once it's answered, there is a clear goal and a path for both teacher and student to walk together, instead of playing a tug-of-war on two different paths. smile


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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237571
02/25/14 06:57 PM
02/25/14 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Hrodulf
I know I said I wasn't going to comment on this anymore but technically this isn't my comment, it's from another piano site. I re-edited it a little bit so it's an arrangement of me and them so make of that what you will. I think it speaks for itself and now I will try to do what I said and stay out of any further conversation about the Liszt piece in this context.

"The argument is that one makes more rapid progress by devoting more practice time to works that are only a small step above one's current abilities, as opposed to trying to leap into terribly difficult things from the get-go.

I think that the most rapid learning comes from playing a mixture of things: easy pieces requiring little effort, pieces already well-learned ("finished"), modestly challenging pieces, and a few really tough ones. if you don't push yourself past your limits, how will you even know where they are?

This approach also allows for one of the most important things in music--artistic growth. In order to progress in our abilities, we have to challenge ourselves. this means playing things that are outside our current abilities, and in the process of learning how to play them, our technique becomes better. during this learning process, the piece will as a rule not sound good, but what is important is that there is progress being made."

I put this in a second post because the other was quite long. Allow me to address something you've written:

I don't think anyone is saying you won't make progress. But the type and quantity of that progress is certainly questionable. Let's say you're trying to get from NYC to Los Angeles. Well, there's a big difference between walking and flying, and an even bigger difference between going North and going West. wink


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237572
02/25/14 07:06 PM
02/25/14 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Hrodulf
I know I said I wasn't going to comment on this anymore but technically this isn't my comment, it's from another piano site. I re-edited it a little bit so it's an arrangement of me and them so make of that what you will. I think it speaks for itself and now I will try to do what I said and stay out of any further conversation about the Liszt piece in this context.

"The argument is that one makes more rapid progress by devoting more practice time to works that are only a small step above one's current abilities, as opposed to trying to leap into terribly difficult things from the get-go.

I think that the most rapid learning comes from playing a mixture of things: easy pieces requiring little effort, pieces already well-learned ("finished"), modestly challenging pieces, and a few really tough ones. if you don't push yourself past your limits, how will you even know where they are?

This approach also allows for one of the most important things in music--artistic growth. In order to progress in our abilities, we have to challenge ourselves. this means playing things that are outside our current abilities, and in the process of learning how to play them, our technique becomes better. during this learning process, the piece will as a rule not sound good, but what is important is that there is progress being made."


I doubt many would even disagree with that entire quote. As is often the case, especially in text, there's a problem of presentation and communication.

At the very least, I would personally endorse such a strategy (that means almost nothing of course). I was given the exact same Dohnanyi exercises by my teacher. I still use some of them to warm up. Your success will depend greatly on the details of how that strategy is being carried out and whether or not there is a teacher present (apparently there is).

But none of us could ever have a serious grasp on those details from where we are sitting. Sounds like you are making great progress but you have to admit, your presentation needs a bit of work. Coming into this thread with talk of Liszt sonata, combined with your ambitious/confusing signature did not help in getting to the heart of your question. It's hard not to comment on that! grin

Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Derulux] #2237581
02/25/14 07:16 PM
02/25/14 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Derulux
Sometimes there's a difference in paradigms, or principles, between the teacher and the student. The teacher wants to follow a process, knowing that process will get the student where they want to go. The teacher values the process more than the results, knowing that the results are a natural effect of the process that caused it.

Before I bring this full circle, let me first define a term: beginner. By "beginner", I mean someone who has never reached the pinnacle of any endeavor. I make this distinction because the "love of process" necessary to succeed exists across all skills. The process itself may be different, but the principles that lead one to value the process do not. So, if someone has never reached that pinnacle, they are usually still at a "beginner" level trying to understand the value behind the process. (This can happen to quite advanced students, not just "day-one beginners"; hence my distinction.)

Now, full circle. Beginners, as I've defined it, tend to be inclined to value results. Their goal is the result, and so is either self-fulfilling or entirely baffling. Example: say you set your goal to be, "I want to play Liszt's La Campanella." How do you measure your goal? Well, I think it's obvious that we measure it by seeing whether you can play the piece. If you can, great! You hit your goal. But if you can't, then what? Your goal was the result, so there's nothing left for you to analyze in order to improve.

If, however, you break down the skill sets necessary, and the practice regimen necessary to achieve the results, this process becomes much easier. Say you set a goal to be: "I am going to reduce the tension in my playing over the next month, so that by next month, I am no longer jamming up my 3rd and 4th fingers and mashing notes together; those notes will be even." Now, we still haven't gotten specific enough yet, but you can use this more specific model to set measurable benchmarks that will help you get to that goal, and you can measure your progress. If you don't hit your goal, you can then take a look at the process you used to get there and refine as necessary.

The idea here is that, when you set a goal, ask yourself "how" you will achieve it. If there's a "how" that isn't expressed in the goal, then add it. Look at the new goal. Ask "how" again. Answer and add. Repeat until you've really gotten to the specific thing you need to do to reach your ultimate result. Whatever that first step is, that's your actual goal. Once conquered, move on to step two. Then three, then four, etc until you reach that final result you targeted way back when you said, "I want to learn La Campanella."

Now, full circle: beginners do not understand or value this process, or goal-based thinking. They see a result and want to sprint towards it like someone dying of thirst in a desert who sees "water" (mirage). When they get where they think they wanted to go, they look around and realize they're not even close to where they wanted to be. Why? They built the road without planning in what direction they would build, set no benchmarks along the way to check whether they had deviated from their plan, and have no ultimate point on the horizon towards which they are traveling. (The point they do choose is often over the horizon and unsuitable for use in this fashion.)

If the beginner stays in this mode of thinking, the teacher cannot ever help the student reach their goals. All they can do is allow the student to enjoy their time, tinkering away and seeing minimal results. If, however, the student is serious about the undertaking, then it is the teacher's job to show them how to build the road, starting with "process".

I find very often that most student-teacher disconnects of this kind revolve around practice. Now, there is no "universal practice" method, but there are methods which are more successful than others. Typically, the student has not discovered one of these methods, so the teacher will need to show them what to do and how to do it. Saying, "Practice this," is not enough. The teacher needs to explain what "practice" means -- down to the most ridiculously minute detail (or until the student "gets it").

Having these kinds of conversations with students leads to one of two things: a) a renewed vigor on the part of the student to employ this wonderful method they have just been exposed to, leading to huge improvements in a short span of time; 2) the student will decide they don't love the endeavor enough to pursue it in that fashion. If #2 happens, the teacher and student then have a choice. The teacher must decide if they want to continue to work with the student, and the student must decide if they want to continue pursuit of the thing being taught. Whether they continue to work together will be determined by the answer to that crucial question.. but at least once it's answered, there is a clear goal and a path for both teacher and student to walk together, instead of playing a tug-of-war on two different paths.


thumb Awesome post! Having the patience to let the process yield the result is something I struggle with.



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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Pathbreaker] #2237583
02/25/14 07:18 PM
02/25/14 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Pathbreaker
Coming into this thread with talk of Liszt sonata, combined with your ambitious/confusing signature did not help in getting to the heart of your question. It's hard not to comment on that! grin


If you looked at my original post I never mentioned the Liszt sonata. Also, the signature is sort of a joke but now I am curious to go to Frank Music and get the scores if for no other reason than to see what they are. Once I get assigned new pieces I'll update it obviously I don't have enough hours in the day or upper extremities to endeavor to learn all of that music currently.


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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237589
02/25/14 07:25 PM
02/25/14 07:25 PM
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I did read it but forgive me for coming late to this party.

Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Pathbreaker] #2237593
02/25/14 07:28 PM
02/25/14 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Pathbreaker
I did read it but forgive me for coming late to this party.


The liszt sonata was from another post that got bled into this one and is actually an off topic discussion that completely derailed the post with silly allegories and attacks on my piano playing.

Here is what I am talking about:

Originally Posted by Atrys
@Hrodulf
You can't even pull off a remotely convincing Chopin Op 55 no 1; not even close. What on earth makes you think you can acquire pieces that are far, far, far above that level of difficulty? It's so plainly obvious that you're not even close to being ready for these pieces.

At first I added that you ought to play whatever you want to play, but seeing how ignorant you are has changed my mind.

Do you think you're some kind of prodigy that can just jump right into the B minor sonata? News flash: you're not and you never will be.

...

You're wasting your time. You are not ready for these pieces, and it's clear you won't be for some time.


But tell me what you really think, don't hold back!

Originally Posted by TwoSnowflakes
as of now your Chopin nocturne lacks a lot of basic things it should have.


Right, I'll get on putting in that bagpipe solo and screaming electric guitars.

Last edited by Hrodulf; 02/25/14 07:41 PM.

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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237624
02/25/14 08:29 PM
02/25/14 08:29 PM
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Hrodulf,

Sorry for the length of this post...

I think what people are trying to suggest is that you'd get to your goal (i.e. playing certain advanced pieces well) faster if you used simpler pieces to practice the detail-level skills ultimately needed to play your goal pieces well.

As a concrete example, take my suggestion (in your other thread) that you try to look at your hands less often. Pianists all look down from their music at their hands now and then. But if they want to play fast and/or fluidly, they have to do it as seldom as possible.

They tell me that as you get better, your body "learns" where things are on the keyboard, and you don't have to look. You "feel" the correct distance to the target location on the keyboard through your shoulders. (I haven't experienced that yet, but I'm hoping!)

Kind of like driving a car. I work the gas, brake, and clutch without looking at my feet. I make tight turns and wide turns, but I never have to look at the steering wheel.

But it wasn't like that when I started at 17! I remember careening around an empty shopping mall parking lot early on Sunday mornings, my mother coaching me from the passenger seat the whole time. You can be sure we did a lot of time in the empty parking lot before she took me out on the turnpike!

So to get better at this "not looking" piano skill, it makes sense to intentionally practice it with an easier piece where you don't have to worry about a lot of other challenging things at the same time. A piece that has leaps, but maybe nothing else that's challenging for you.

Recently I started working on a little Gurlitt piece called "Night Journey". When I first looked at it I thought, "Well, that looks easy enough." It certainly sounds simple.

Wrong. It turns out it has two challenges for me: tiny leaps with the left hand to places I can't dependably get to without looking, and the need to keep my right hand consistently quieter than my left.

Everything else about the piece is easy for me. The rhythm, range, and dynamics are not a problem. But it's great for making me improve at those two important skills.

Hrodulf, I'm a lot older than you are. I could have said to myself, "I could die at any time now and would never have played my favorite pieces of piano music. I only would have played pieces written for kids by a nobody named Gurlitt".

Instead, I think how nice that fellow Gurlitt was to leave behind lots of little pieces that sound nice and cleverly help beginners like me move along the road to piano proficiency. And isn't it a shame that one of his descendants turned out to be a Nazi art thief? (Did you see that in the news recently?)

I'm continually surprised at how many nice piano pieces there are at all levels. I'm sure you can find some simpler ones that you'll like, and that will help you move forward faster.

BrainCramp

Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: BrainCramp] #2237635
02/25/14 08:46 PM
02/25/14 08:46 PM
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I'll follow my teacher's judgment in this matter. Certainly some of the wtc, Chopin and Beethoven is "accessible" although I don't know what I can do when I apply myself. In high school I played the ravel sonatine and rhapsody in blue and later Chopin scherzo 3. That's the what I'm trying to recapture.

This is probably just a midlife crisis thing that will sort itself out. Don't worry about it so much. It's honestly more annoying than helpful and it won't change my mind.

Last edited by Hrodulf; 02/25/14 08:53 PM.

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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Derulux] #2237636
02/25/14 08:52 PM
02/25/14 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Derulux
....Now, full circle. Beginners, as I've defined it, tend to be inclined to value results. Their goal is the result, and so is either self-fulfilling or entirely baffling.....


Derulux, my apologies for cutting and snipping your post, but I wanted to comment on one small thing, which is quoted above. I believe that to be true for a sub-set of beginners (which you've defined fairly broadly), but for many it's not the case at all. They, too, value the process and the freedom it ultimately gives them. "Feed a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime." (Old Chinese proverb.)


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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237678
02/25/14 10:33 PM
02/25/14 10:33 PM
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Here, as opposed to there
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Rach 3 and Prok 2 would both be excellent concerti to add to your repertoire list. Maybe a week tops and you'll have them locked down.

Best.



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237703
02/25/14 11:34 PM
02/25/14 11:34 PM
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Hrodulf Offline OP
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The list is a joke. And show me where I said anything would be learned in a week.

Last edited by Hrodulf; 02/25/14 11:37 PM.

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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237716
02/26/14 12:14 AM
02/26/14 12:14 AM
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I revised the list after talking to my teacher. The list I have now is serious.


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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237747
02/26/14 01:43 AM
02/26/14 01:43 AM
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Considering the performance of the Chopin nocturne that we saw, your list is still pretty far out.


Regards,

Polyphonist
Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Stubbie] #2237756
02/26/14 02:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Originally Posted by Derulux
....Now, full circle. Beginners, as I've defined it, tend to be inclined to value results. Their goal is the result, and so is either self-fulfilling or entirely baffling.....


Derulux, my apologies for cutting and snipping your post, but I wanted to comment on one small thing, which is quoted above. I believe that to be true for a sub-set of beginners (which you've defined fairly broadly), but for many it's not the case at all. They, too, value the process and the freedom it ultimately gives them. "Feed a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime." (Old Chinese proverb.)

No worries! I completely agree with what you've said! We're actually talking about two different things here, which I suspect resulted from my use of the word "beginner". Let me try to clarify.. smile

Note in my original post that I didn't define "beginners" to mean someone just starting out at a "new thing". I affirmed somewhere in that gigantic mess of a post that advanced players could very easily qualify as "beginners" according to the definition I used, and I suppose I should now add that the opposite -- that "newbies" (to separate terms) could very easily be "advanced" -- is also possible by my definition.

So, I'm not really talking about "beginners" as people who are "new to an endeavor," but as people who have never embarked upon the path to true mastery of a skill. Different type of beginner. wink


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237790
02/26/14 05:31 AM
02/26/14 05:31 AM
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Here, as opposed to there
stores Offline
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stores  Offline
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Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted by Hrodulf
The list is a joke. And show me where I said anything would be learned in a week.


Yes, I realise your list is a joke (the revised list is also) as was my entire post. Duh.



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $

Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Polyphonist] #2237884
02/26/14 11:31 AM
02/26/14 11:31 AM
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Hrodulf Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Polyphonist
Considering the performance of the Chopin nocturne that we saw, your list is still pretty far out.


Part of that was performance issues and also I'd only been working on the piece for a few days before the recital.


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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: stores] #2237887
02/26/14 11:32 AM
02/26/14 11:32 AM
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Hrodulf Offline OP
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Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by Hrodulf
The list is a joke. And show me where I said anything would be learned in a week.


Yes, I realise your list is a joke (the revised list is also) as was my entire post. Duh.


The revised list is not a joke and as has been explained exhaustively before is a way to improve my practicing, playing, and musical knowledge. Why this is so difficult for you to accept is beyond me.


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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: stores] #2237896
02/26/14 11:55 AM
02/26/14 11:55 AM
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Hrodulf Offline OP
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Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by Hrodulf
The list is a joke. And show me where I said anything would be learned in a week.


Yes, I realise your list is a joke (the revised list is also) as was my entire post. Duh.


You're confusing making a joke with sarcasm. I think.


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