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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237268
02/25/14 09:54 AM
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Hrodulf Offline OP
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Sorry about that I suppose it's my apparently massive ignorance that is to blame. So don't worry about it. I'm just a stupid idiot and I'll probably give up in two weeks or so anyway. Maybe. I don't know.


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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237274
02/25/14 10:08 AM
02/25/14 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Hrodulf
Sorry about that I suppose it's my apparently massive ignorance that is to blame. So don't worry about it. I'm just a stupid idiot and I'll probably give up in two weeks or so anyway. Maybe. I don't know.


No, it's your apparently massive attitude that's to blame.

Nobody called you a stupid idiot and nobody said you would fail. If everybody thought you were only supposed to give up, they'd have said so and not offered advice that assumes the asker has the capacity to work hard for a long time.

I humbly suggest you re-read the replies you've been getting in this thread and your other thread and see if you really are getting sincere advice that you are mistaking for judgment.

You joke about Gaspard, but just going back in some of your posts, two years ago you were working on Scarbo, and yet as of now your Chopin nocturne lacks a lot of basic things it should have. I think your approach is not teaching you the things you want it to.

If you want to get better (and you clearly have the dedication to work hard for a long time) then do yourself a favor and step WAY back and if you're destined to play things like Gaspard, you'll actually get there.

Nobody's standing in your way more than you are.

Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: phantomFive] #2237275
02/25/14 10:09 AM
02/25/14 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by phantomFive
If he's motivated to learn, don't stop him. The only questions is what he'll do after he gets knocked out by Ali.....get up and try again, or just give up altogether.

The problem is that he may not be able to get up. Launching into this kind of practice regime on pieces like these without the requisite technique is just asking for injury. I am surprised Derulux did not bring this up since this is kind of his thing.

Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: the nosy ape] #2237280
02/25/14 10:18 AM
02/25/14 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by the nosy ape
Originally Posted by phantomFive
If he's motivated to learn, don't stop him. The only questions is what he'll do after he gets knocked out by Ali.....get up and try again, or just give up altogether.

The problem is that he may not be able to get up. Launching into this kind of practice regime on pieces like these without the requisite technique is just asking for injury. I am surprised Derulux did not bring this up since this is kind of his thing.


This guy says you're right but for different reasons.

http://etudemagazine.com/etude/1924/03/josef-lhevinne---basic-principles-in-pianoforte-playing.html

I know it's possible to injure yourself in this way so I haven't been playing at full force or tempo.


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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2237284
02/25/14 10:31 AM
02/25/14 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by TwoSnowflakes
Originally Posted by Hrodulf
Sorry about that I suppose it's my apparently massive ignorance that is to blame. So don't worry about it. I'm just a stupid idiot and I'll probably give up in two weeks or so anyway. Maybe. I don't know.


No, it's your apparently massive attitude that's to blame.

Nobody called you a stupid idiot and nobody said you would fail. If everybody thought you were only supposed to give up, they'd have said so and not offered advice that assumes the asker has the capacity to work hard for a long time.

I humbly suggest you re-read the replies you've been getting in this thread and your other thread and see if you really are getting sincere advice that you are mistaking for judgment.

You joke about Gaspard, but just going back in some of your posts, two years ago you were working on Scarbo, and yet as of now your Chopin nocturne lacks a lot of basic things it should have. I think your approach is not teaching you the things you want it to.

If you want to get better (and you clearly have the dedication to work hard for a long time) then do yourself a favor and step WAY back and if you're destined to play things like Gaspard, you'll actually get there.

Nobody's standing in your way more than you are.


I'm pretty sure someone did say I was ignorant somewhere back there, the rest was just editorial commentary.

One thing I believe we can agree on is that it was foolish of me to post these threads here.



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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237297
02/25/14 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Hrodulf
I'm pretty sure someone did say I was ignorant somewhere back there, the rest was just editorial commentary.

One thing I believe we can agree on is that it was foolish of me to post these threads here.


If I may be so bold, I'd humbly suggest that you add Balakirev's Islamey to your 'Working on' list (best sandwiched between the Liszt and Ravel - after all, Ravel wrote Scarbo partly to test pianists who find Islamey too easy), and finally Sorabji's Opus Clavicembalisticum as the final coup de théâtre, guaranteed to knock anyone's socks off (but a mere ball in the park for you, when you reach the ball, that is).


"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: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237305
02/25/14 11:26 AM
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I haven't gotten the score to the Stevenson yet maybe Frank Music has it? I admit I put it there as a joke but now I'm curious about it. I'd like to collect the most critical, influential pieces in the piano literature.

As for Islamey I was thinking about adding it but forgot to. I'll add it later if the word count allows.


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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237359
02/25/14 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Hrodulf

I'm pretty sure someone did say I was ignorant somewhere back there, the rest was just editorial commentary.

One thing I believe we can agree on is that it was foolish of me to post these threads here.



It's foolish to ask pianists about piano? The foolishness probably lies not in having asked your piano questions in a massive forum with hundreds of pianists with a combined tens, or even hundreds of thousands of hours playing, learning and working through problems exactly like the ones you are encountering, but in not listening to what pianists then have to say about piano. When there's overwhelming agreement among a group of pianists who don't often all agree on something, it stands to reason that a person should give it a certain amount of credit.

Look, I'm no advanced pianist, and often have basic questions of a level similar to the ones you've been asking, but I don't get my hackles up when I get taken to piano school. After all, that's exactly what I want. There are some strong personalities here, that's for sure, but I haven't (yet) elicited the kind of response you're getting here. It would be folly to simply chalk the problem up to having picked the wrong place to ask your question. It's sort of the internet equivalent of, "it's not me, it's you."

It comes down to what you want to do. If you want to do your own thing, then just do it. Don't ask for input and then get upset when the response isn't what you wanted to hear. Nobody can help you learn how to play fast runs in Liszt if you aren't willing to believe that playing Liszt is not the best way to learn how to play fast runs as a primary matter.

No less notable is this: If you're wondering if your question is stupid before you even ask it, it stands to reason that perhaps you already wonder if you're missing something obvious. I think you got your response. The question is, what are you going to do about it?

One possible reaction is to flip your hair and stomp off, condemning all these egotistic jerks who clearly just want to see you fail.

Another one would be to see if there's something of value in what's being said to you, and have the cojones to take that advice simply because it will help you get where you want to be, whether or not you liked the package that advice came in.

You clearly have goals. Now, how are you going to achieve them?

Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2237364
02/25/14 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by TwoSnowflakes
Originally Posted by Hrodulf

I'm pretty sure someone did say I was ignorant somewhere back there, the rest was just editorial commentary.

One thing I believe we can agree on is that it was foolish of me to post these threads here.



It's foolish to ask pianists about piano? The foolishness probably lies not in having asked your piano questions in a massive forum with hundreds of pianists with a combined tens, or even hundreds of thousands of hours playing, learning and working through problems exactly like the ones you are encountering, but in not listening to what pianists then have to say about piano. When there's overwhelming agreement among a group of pianists who don't often all agree on something, it stands to reason that a person should give it a certain amount of credit.

Look, I'm no advanced pianist, and often have basic questions of a level similar to the ones you've been asking, but I don't get my hackles up when I get taken to piano school. After all, that's exactly what I want. There are some strong personalities here, that's for sure, but I haven't (yet) elicited the kind of response you're getting here. It would be folly to simply chalk the problem up to having picked the wrong place to ask your question. It's sort of the internet equivalent of, "it's not me, it's you."

It comes down to what you want to do. If you want to do your own thing, then just do it. Don't ask for input and then get upset when the response isn't what you wanted to hear. Nobody can help you learn how to play fast runs in Liszt if you aren't willing to believe that playing Liszt is not the best way to learn how to play fast runs as a primary matter.

No less notable is this: If you're wondering if your question is stupid before you even ask it, it stands to reason that perhaps you already wonder if you're missing something obvious. I think you got your response. The question is, what are you going to do about it?

One possible reaction is to flip your hair and stomp off, condemning all these egotistic jerks who clearly just want to see you fail.

Another one would be to see if there's something of value in what's being said to you, and have the cojones to take that advice simply because it will help you get where you want to be, whether or not you liked the package that advice came in.

You clearly have goals. Now, how are you going to achieve them?


I just meant it was foolish because this has happened two times before and getting involved in heated debates here has not done me or my music any good, so in that sense it was a very foolish thing to trigger a third one. But the central problem is, because of a reason I cannot really explain, I don't accept your basic theory that the best way to play difficult passages is by not playing them. That's rather backwards to me. And if you looked at my curriculum thread you would have seen I'm going to also be playing Chopin, Beethoven, Bach and others, not just Liszt, so whatever intermediate requirements from a mere finger-technique point of view are being taken care of. I also got a book of exercises recommended by my college piano teacher. Is this conversation over yet? Here's hoping.


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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237367
02/25/14 01:06 PM
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I didn't notice Opus Clavicembalisticum; I will add that also. Thanks.


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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Mark_C] #2237371
02/25/14 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by Derulux
Last try for me....

Golly, you're more persistent than I am. grin

I don't think he's receptive. He'll just have to find out for himself, I guess. Or not.

Hrodulf: Derulux is way right -- I promise you. You're really better off if you try to get more out of what he's been saying. You think we're being discouraging or not getting it or something. That ain't it.

I seem to be a glutton for this kind of punishment. grin

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.

Originally Posted by Hrodulf
I already learned the notes to the first two pages and a half, it's difficult but in my opinion you are exaggerating. Anyway I'm going to be looking at some schoenberg and other modernist stuff and that looks even harder. But that's ok, if I can't play it I just walk away. Nobody goes to the hospital.

I'm certain I'm not exaggerating, but this reply makes me think we're talking about two different things. I'm talking about making sure you get to the top of the mountain, but it seems to me like you're going to survey the mountain, and then if you decide the climb isn't worth it, you're not going to try scaling it. Is that closer to your level of motivation?

Originally Posted by the nosy ape
The problem is that he may not be able to get up. Launching into this kind of practice regime on pieces like these without the requisite technique is just asking for injury. I am surprised Derulux did not bring this up since this is kind of his thing.

Yeah, I was trying to break into the conversation slowly. The OP is very closed off to any opinion that isn't his, and seems to be completely ignoring logic, metaphor, and any other method of relaying those ideas. He also seems to be very closed off to even having a discussion about it, which is unfortunate. I always feel that, if you ask a question, you should try to understand the responses you get even if you don't agree with them. smile

Originally Posted by Hrodulf
One thing I believe we can agree on is that it was foolish of me to post these threads here.

Normally, I would disagree, but you've been so closed off to what anyone says, that you might have a point. If the only voice you're going to listen to is yours, why have two ears in the first place? wink


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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237382
02/25/14 01:15 PM
02/25/14 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Hrodulf
I don't accept your basic theory that the best way to play difficult passages is by not playing them. That's rather backwards to me.


It would be, if that's what I was saying. The problem with learning advanced technique by playing advanced pieces is that you need to ISOLATE the technical challenges in order to collect small building blocks that can be used to make big building blocks. That's what less challenging pieces do for you.

As far as I'm concerned, there's no such thing as pieces that are "easier". Easy pieces aren't really easy...they just present fewer technical challenges at once. But those technical elements present opportunities for both basic and advanced levels of mastery. An easy piece can be made enormously difficult simply by what you decide to use it for.

When you have enough of those individual building blocks, you are ready for pieces that require you to have their basic execution already locked in. If you play those pieces too early, then you're just falling massively short of being able to do anything competently. You may make some incremental progress, but it's just as likely you won't, whether or not you have any internal potential. Whereas building up slowly, you're guaranteed to make progress if you are, in fact, capable of it.

Originally Posted by Hrodulf
Is this conversation over yet? Here's hoping.


I don't know. Have you left the discussion?


Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Derulux] #2237385
02/25/14 01:23 PM
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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.

Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2237400
02/25/14 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by TwoSnowflakes
I don't know. Have you left the discussion?


Yes, with all my heart. I'm done. I don't want to see this pointless debate continue any further than it already has.


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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237418
02/25/14 01:59 PM
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Speed. Do not think of this word or the word fast. Remove them from your vocabulary and always replace them with control. That's all it is. You cannot have this without a robust technique. Without that speed is of no value and serves no purpose. How do you get the technical facility to execute a passage with enough precision(control) to increase the tempo? You have to understand the movements for that kind of passage at more than a superficial level. In context (that passage itself) and out-of-context (technical studies) and in completely other environments (other pieces). It is absolutely impossible to fully learn a piece in a vacuum. That's why you must play as much music in as many styles and levels as possible. It's an everything strategy and it's the only useful strategy.

You have set some goals for yourself, and it seems you have some kind of deadline in mind. But your focus seems to be on these two things. What is it that you really want? Why is it necessary that your musical pursuits be of the highest degree of difficulty? Yes it's good that you have long term goals. But have you set short and medium term achievable goals that support your long-term goals?

You want to play so you should continue to do just that but if you want to play faster you need to adjust your strategy.

Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237423
02/25/14 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Hrodulf
I also got a book of exercises recommended by my college piano teacher.

Which one did you get?


Poetry is rhythm
Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Hrodulf] #2237455
02/25/14 02:49 PM
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Some pointers for working up tempo:

1) Work on small sections at a time. It might be a couple measures, or maybe even only one or two beats within a measure. The section has to be small enough that you can play it quite fast but still perfectly. When you have two sections, try joining them together. If it doesn't work, you still haven't learned the small sections well enough.

2) Figure out your exact fingering for every single note and use only that fingering. If the score has fingerings written in, I usually start there and see if I like it. If I don't, I experiment around until I find something I do like. Playing small sections up-to-tempo can help you find the best fingering, as very often numerous fingerings will work at a slow tempo but only one or two are possible at full speed. Make sure that you are holding all notes to their full value and using a fingering that allows you to do so.

3) You should work to be able to play at a slightly faster tempo than you feel is musical, as then you won't feel pushed to the limit when playing the musical tempo and will thus be able to maintain full control.

4) Your metronome is your friend. Some techniques for using the metronome to increase speed are: Start very slowly and work your way up 2-4 notches at a time, i.e. 60 bpm, 64 bpm, 68 bpm, etc. Or do the "two steps forward, one step back" method, i.e. 80 bpm, 88 bpm, 84 bpm, 92, bpm, etc. Or do a big jump forward and then a smaller jump back, i.e. Your current tempo is 100 bpm and you want to speed it up to 120. Play through at 100 bpm, then jump it all the way up to 140. Then go back to 120, 140, 124, 140, 128, 140, until you get all the way up to 140. Suddenly 120 feels like a piece of cake! I'm using this method on my Mozart sonata right now and it's working great but it took some work with the other methods to get it up to a comfortable moderate tempo where I knew the piece well enough for the big tempo jump method to be effective.

5) Memorize the small sections you are working on so that you can watch your hands closely while playing. What you are looking for are places where your hands are tense (risking injury and wasting energy that could be directed towards playing faster or with better tone), places where you are moving your fingers too high or far from the keys (your fingers can play faster the closer they are to the keys as there is less time wasted "in the air" so to speak), as well as the angle of your arms and wrists (awkward angles can put strain on your physical playing mechanism, causing it to be operating at less than its peak capabilities.) In addition to being able to keep an eye on your technique, memorizing is almost always key to playing fast as your brain needs to already know the notes ahead of time in order to be able to send signals to your hands fast enough.

A combination of all these techniques should be able to get you started on working up the tempo in your pieces.

Finally I must touch on the general trend of the conversation here. It is perfectly fine to have a piece you are working on that is way beyond your current capabilities. But that should be the exception from the rest of your pieces, which ought to be repertoire that will stretch your current capabilities a little at a time. A more effective list of pieces for you to work on would be something like ONE Chopin Nocturne, ONE Beethoven Sonata (Op. 2 no. 1 or Op. 49, say), a Bach Prelude and Fugue, or perhaps a French Suite, and maybe some Bartok or Kabalevsky to round out the more modern end of the chronology. This way you are building on the skills you currently have while still stretching yourself. You need to have pieces that are within your grasp to learn perfectly, and optionally a giant challenge piece. There are certainly technical things you can learn from a challenge piece, but there are many more EXTREMELY important things you can learn from working a smaller piece until it is absolutely polished and perfect. And believe it or not, many smaller pieces can teach you the exact same technical things as the Liszt sonata. There is something to be said for the psychological reward of playing a piece well rather than constantly beating our brains out on programs that even world famous concert pianists would tremble to attempt. You will be much less likely to burn out on practicing if you are careful in your programming.

You mention that you need to get in shape and lose 30 pounds to better your health. We already know how to walk, but that doesn't mean that we are going to go online tomorrow and sign up to run a marathon in 2 weeks. No, the best way to start training for a marathon is to run 3 or 4 miles every day, and once a week challenge ourselves with a longer run of 6-8 miles. Think of the Liszt sonata is the pianistic equivalent of a marathon. In other words, don't expect to be ready for it any time soon, but don't give up on training for it either!

Contrary to what you might think, the Liszt sonata is not one measure + another measure + another measure and so forth. It is not a piece that you can play well just by learning all the bits and cobbling them together. It is greater than the sum of its parts (same can be said for any of the other works on your list.) In order to play it well you need to know how it is structured, how to bring out the overarching shape of its entirety. This is the kind of stuff you learn by playing smaller pieces and gradually increasing the difficulty. This is the kind of stuff that goes beyond merely learning the notes. This is the kind of stuff we all aim for as musicians and thus I wish you well on your journey and hope that the advice I have posted here is of use. smile

Last edited by bellamusica; 02/25/14 02:59 PM. Reason: fixed some typos
Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: phantomFive] #2237457
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Originally Posted by phantomFive
Originally Posted by Hrodulf
I also got a book of exercises recommended by my college piano teacher.

Which one did you get?


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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2237512
02/25/14 04:54 PM
02/25/14 04:54 PM
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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.


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Re: This might be a stupid question but .. [Re: Stubbie] #2237521
02/25/14 05:14 PM
02/25/14 05:14 PM
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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

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


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] #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
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,261
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Pathbreaker Offline
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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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Posts: 1,744
Vancouver, B.C.
Vid Offline
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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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Hrodulf Offline OP
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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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Massachusetts
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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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Hrodulf Offline OP
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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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