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Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534933
04/28/16 07:34 PM
04/28/16 07:34 PM
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TonyB,
I'm glad to hear that the course is working out for you so well this time around. And I'm thrilled that our little thread seems to be generating some great discussion! I think you have some really great insights on playing pieces until you own them. Someone on this forum (can't remember who and haven't seen it in ages) had one of my all time favorite signatures, it said "Amateurs practice until they can get it right, professionals practice until they can't get it wrong."

I also agree with you in not trying to rush the course. I think it may be somewhat unfortunately named. I wonder if there have been people who have tried it and found that it was taking them 2 or 3 weeks to complete each lesson and gave up because they thought it should be doable on a strict 1 lesson/week format. They should take as much time as they take, and it will be different for every person.

And really, It seems to me like there is so much material in the course that one could easily revisit it for years and still get new things out of it.



Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800
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Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534942
04/28/16 07:46 PM
04/28/16 07:46 PM
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Hernando, MS
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EP Oh yes, Lesson 17 is awesome! That's actually one of the cool things about the course. It's just got so much variety. There are lessons like that which focus on doing a ton with just a few songs (or one smile and then there are lessons where he goes through so many pieces it's like, "holy crap he's going to assign ANOTHER piece this week!!?" *grin*

I also find it interesting how there are lessons taught completely from bird's eye view, and lessons taught entirely from close up, and lessons that have both. By necessity, there is a lot of repetition in the course, but Duane really does a great job of keeping things fresh.

May I ask, did you have a lot of prior experience before taking the course? or did you start as a beginner? And what did you do after you finished, piano-wise? Did you take any of duane's other courses? or pursue more classical repertoire? or jazz? or just use what you learned and apply it to new pieces? or something else entirely? smile


Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800
Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534955
04/28/16 08:17 PM
04/28/16 08:17 PM
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Great info here. I'm impressed that everyone here gives the course such glowing reviews. I'm considering purchasing but have two remaining questions:

1. Has anyone tried any of Duane's other courses? What were your impressions of those, and are they all (or most) incorporated in the 52 week course? Or do they cover totally different material?

2. Other than this thread, is there a support forum for the 52 week course somewhere and/or is there a way to contact Duane directly if/when you get stuck and have a specific question?

Thanks!


Bert
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Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534978
04/28/16 10:10 PM
04/28/16 10:10 PM
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Hernando, MS
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Newbert,
I think it really depends on the course. For example he has lots of small courses on specific topics. As an example, he has a course on left hand arranging patterns, and another on right hand arranging patterns. This material is covered very well in the crash course, so I suspect that they would be redundant. On the other hand he has courses like his in depth improvising course or his pro secrets course. They seem to go much more in depth than the crash course.

I don't think there's a specific forum dedicated to support, and Duane has largely retired from teaching (he had a pretty bad heart attack a few years ago). But I have exchanged emails with him and he seems really nice. So if you really are having an issue with something you might be able to contact him and get some help. Or likely you could also get help here. If not from one of us, there are an amazing number of really talented and knowledgeable people who frequent these forums.



Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800
Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534995
04/28/16 11:01 PM
04/28/16 11:01 PM
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Rocky Mountains, USA
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I think the Pro Secrets course is good if you really want to get in depth with a lot of the things he teaches you in the 52-week course. Pro Secrets is really designed to be a 3-year program, where you drill on one technique for an hour every day for a month, then move on to the next technique, for 36 months.

Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2535075
04/29/16 05:50 AM
04/29/16 05:50 AM
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TonyB Offline OP
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Duane has another product tat really isn't a "course", but is a collection of 14 DVDs, each focused o one subject. These are modulation, pedaling, improvising using minor 7 chords, transposition, waterfall runs, 2-1 and 3-1 chord breaks, music box style, straddles, chord progressions and substitutions, gospel styles, inversions, modal scales and fingerings, major scales and fingerings, and minor scales and fingerings. This collection could easily go along with most any other self-study piano course or even with a live teacher.

As far as I am concerned, I feel that this collection is worthwhile. Think of it as asking your teacher for more information/demonstration about some specific aspect of what you are being taught.

Also, though I intend to participate in this thread, I think that support groups can be as much a distraction as helpful. It is all too easy to avoid practicing by just talking about it. I go through periods in which I post a lot and other times where I am too buys doing to post about it. We each have to decide which we want to be doing.

When I was working with the Sudnow method some years ago, he really talked up the idea of a study group. For the first year, I worked alone on the course and made good progress, and had several tunes memorized and ready to play. A guy in town formed a study group and I attended. It was there that people who had previous piano lessons and already played well (and probably did not really understand Sudnow's way of thinking) talked me out of what I was doing on my own and it wasn't too long before my whole practice regimen fell apart and dwindled to nothing.

I can't blame anybody but myself because I let myself be talked out of what was working for me. In that group, everybody talked a good game, but few ever played for each other as Sudnow recommended we do. Here in the forum, everybody talks a good game. Unless people sign up for the monthly recital or otherwise put up videos or MP3s of their playing, you really have no idea whether the person is talking from a position as a player or a wannabe who just doesn't get it together. So far, I am the latter, and it is only by ultimately shutting up here and getting into the work that this will change.

There seem to be very few in these forums who have said that they actually finished any of these home study courses, but many of us (including me, have collected enough of them). I would say now that I have read of more that either finished or went far along with the 52 week course than any other. Fizikisto has gone through most of it, EP has apparently completed it, and there was a guy some years ago here who had finished it. I have only read of one person here who said she finished the Sudnow method, and that was SwinginBarb, who hasn't posted in a long while. I hope to among these rare few one day.

To me, probably more than any other course I have seen yet (and probably better than many piano teachers), Duane explains everything in the course very well. I am not convinced we really need outside help as we go along. Every concept is explained in the course and in context, from what I have seen just grabbing DVDs and watching the lessons. Remember too that you can watch a segment over and over, as much as needed.

Tony


Last edited by TonyB; 04/29/16 06:02 AM.
Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2535086
04/29/16 06:26 AM
04/29/16 06:26 AM
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Hernando, MS
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TonyB,
I think having a good teacher who can watch you and give you feedback can speed your progress tremendously. They can also help you correct bad habits before they become ingrained in you. And of course, if you had had a good teacher that you were seeing every week and that you trusted, you probably never would have been talked out of your progress by others. A good teacher can help you keep on track. I've had in person teachers and I've done the self-learning thing and I think that if you can get a good teacher that's better than going it alone.

But with that said, getting a good teacher is just not practical for everyone. First, not every teacher is a good teacher. And even if you have a good teacher in your area, as I noted in a different thread, it can be really really expensive. $50-100/week starts to add up pretty quickly. Other people have the money, but they have crazy schedules that prevent regular lessons or they live in some small town where there's not a teacher to be had. And sometimes teachers simply don't fit with you personality-wise or whatever. As far as the crash course goes, I suspect that among piano teachers, there is a pretty small % of them that can even do all the stuff that duane teaches, much less teach it to others. So depending on what you want to learn, your financial situation, your work/schedule/travel situation, an in person teacher may simply not be practical.

For someone that has to go it alone, I remain convinced that this is one of the best all around methods available.

One thing that I would suggest to you as a self learner is focus on eliminating tension when you play. It's so easy for tension to creep in when you're focusing on other things, especially if you don't have a teacher to watch you. So you can make a conscious effort to check yourself periodically as you play. Are you forgetting to breathe? Is your posture getting out of line (especially your neck and head)? are your shoulders rising up or hunching? is your elbow winging out? are you grinding your teeth or is your jaw relaxed? when holding down longer notes or chords are you holding down keys with more force than is necessary? is your pinky lifting up when you're not using it? These are all signs of unnecessary tension that can inhibit your playing later on. It can be a good idea to periodically check yourself for such signs

Warm Regards

Last edited by fizikisto; 04/29/16 06:31 AM.

Nord Stage 2 HA88
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Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2535262
04/29/16 05:34 PM
04/29/16 05:34 PM
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Fizikisto,

Thanks for the follow up post. As for a teacher, I had a bad experience with a guitar teacher. after I left the road as a professional guitar player, I decided I really wanted to get into chord melody playing along the lines of Johnny Smith, Joe Pass, etc. I decided to take lessons. I spent that entire summer working through the Johnny Smith method with a teacher, 3 hours a day with scales, arpeggios, chords, etc. The idea presented to me was that, at the end of the summer, we would work on applying all this material to chord melody. at the end of the summer, the teacher got a gig in Japan and that was that. I went to several other teachers to find one to continue on. They all wanted me to start over again.

I refused, and have continued to learn on my own whatever I need on the guitar. I was always self-taught and played professionally for two years in a trio that played Holiday Inns, higher end supper clubs, and resorts. It wasn't some BS bar band that gigs once every few months and spends the rest of the time bragging about the gig. We worked 6 nights a week, every week, for two years. It was all AF of M union work.

Anyway, with the piano, I simply could not find a teacher that would teach the kind of material that Duane Shinn teaches. They were all about classical music. So, no go there either.

One problem I rarely hear people talk about here when they say that a teacher is the way to go is the QUALITY of the teacher. Just as there are decent mechanics, cooks, doctors, etc., and not-so-good of the same, it is also true with teachers. Those of us here who went through college remember the "good" professors - those who really cared about their subject and the students, and went the extra mile during their time off to bring in new material for the next semester or year, while the other professors simply taught the same thing every class ad gave the same tests, and were boring.

During much of my career in engineering, I did a lot of travel and worked a lot of hours. There was absolutely no way I could say that I would be available on a certain day at a certain time, week after week.

Since I did well teaching myself to play guitar, I figure I can do likewise with the piano.

The following is really me reminding myself of these points, more than it is to anybody else, and especially it is to no one in particular (except myself as a reminder):

As for people being able to talk me out of doing what worked for me, I consider that "lessons learned". That is why I said that, on the internet, we really don't know who the people are whose posts we are reading. They may rarely, if ever, touch the piano, but have tons of advice for people. Over time, it becomes apparent when you see the same people posting over and over, who among them is "for real" and who is not.

I can tell you with absolute certainty that honing your skills on the bandstand as a professional will really change one's view of the academic approach to music. If all one has is book learning and not real life, proven, experience, maybe that is not the person to listen to for advice. Duane Shinn is an experienced teacher and performer, and his approach in his course shows that "honing". Robet Conti is the equivalent on guitar. I have yet to find a "live" piano teacher like that, though obviously they exist - Duane Shinn is but one of these.

At this point in my life, I really don't want to spend the kind of money you are talking about for a teacher. I learned through the Sudnow group that I really don't need a group to keep me motivated, though a small effective study group would be a great thing. I have to be careful not to spend too much time in such a group, and take EVERYTHING said with a grain of salt.

There are people who seem to almost live in these forums, and I wonder how much piano playing actually gets done. I don't think high post counts prove a person is a good piano player, in fact, probably the opposite (unless that person already was a good player before coming to the forum). Unfortunately, the process of learning to play a musical instrument is NOT a social enterprise. There is lots of time spent "butt to seat" alone.

Consider all the words in these forums wasted on the "10,000 hour rule", as yet another thread is going on now. What a complete waste of time! Who cares? If one is practicing and making progress, what does it matter what somebody else says in some book? The forums are full of this kind of stuff that has nothing to do with what I am doing at the piano.

Today is my "day off" as per Duane Shinn's recommendation. On my piano days, I will be making myself a bit more scarce around here because I really want to focus on playing. My participation, outside occasional posts in this thread, should really be for participating in the monthly recitals sharing that I really am able to do something on the piano instead of just talking about it, once I get to the point of having something to offer.

If all this sounds harsh, all I can say is that the people I have known, including myself, who have accomplished something worthwhile, were not socialites gabbing endlessly about doing instead of actually doing it. Instead, a decision is made to do the thing, and come out when we have something to show for the effort, and not listen to garbage such as the 10,000 hour rule or anything else that might cause us to question whether we can achieve our desired outcome.

I have, up to this point, not done this with the piano, but have done this with everything I have done successfully, so I have no excuse. I know how to do success, being an engineer with patents, having taught myself guitar and played professionally, finished college at night at the top of my class while working a full time job, etc. Most of us have had successes in life, so mine are but one person among many. All we need to do is remember the decisions we made to not listen to the garbage talk, and instead stay focused on the task at hand.

I really like your advice about watching for tension. Your points about why a teacher is a good thing, are well taken. It is heartening to know that at least a few people have either finished the 52 week course or are close to it, and that the journey was worthwhile.

Thanks,

Tony

Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2535293
04/29/16 07:34 PM
04/29/16 07:34 PM
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TonyB
Thank you for the long and thoughtful post. I appreciate you sharing your history. By the way, on reflection, I fear my mentioning your having quit before may have come across as harsh or insulting. I hope not, but if so I apologize. It certainly wasn't intended to be. And yes, I agree with your broader points. Having a teacher is simply not a viable choice for a lot of people. So the chorus that often appears on this forum lambasting people who choose self learning over getting a teacher is misguided at best. For some people, because of the reasons we mentioned or others, the choice is not between teacher or no teacher, it's between self-learning or no-learning. But for those whose only option is self learning, what a great time to be alive, right? There is such a wealth of different material available. And I do think this course is among the best options for anyone choosing to go that route. smile

Speaking of practice, I'm about to go get mine in. I finally have a bit of time to rewatch lesson 1 and work through it again. I'll post my Lesson 1 review sometime tomorrow. Hopefully I'll have some useful things to say about it. smile

Warm Regards,


Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800
Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: fizikisto] #2535294
04/29/16 07:57 PM
04/29/16 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by fizikisto
TonyB
Thank you for the long and thoughtful post. I appreciate you sharing your history. By the way, on reflection, I fear my mentioning your having quit before may have come across as harsh or insulting. I hope not, but if so I apologize. It certainly wasn't intended to be. And yes, I agree with your broader points. Having a teacher is simply not a viable choice for a lot of people. So the chorus that often appears on this forum lambasting people who choose self learning over getting a teacher is misguided at best. For some people, because of the reasons we mentioned or others, the choice is not between teacher or no teacher, it's between self-learning or no-learning. But for those whose only option is self learning, what a great time to be alive, right? There is such a wealth of different material available. And I do think this course is among the best options for anyone choosing to go that route. smile

Speaking of practice, I'm about to go get mine in. I finally have a bit of time to rewatch lesson 1 and work through it again. I'll post my Lesson 1 review sometime tomorrow. Hopefully I'll have some useful things to say about it. smile

Warm Regards,


Fitzikisto,

Nothing you have said has been insulting or harsh, so no worries. smile

One thing I should mention is that none of the piano players I listen to regularly had piano lessons - they are self-taught. I find it interesting that the people I know who took formal piano lessons to learn to play, seem to be really saddled with having to read sheet music, while those who I know as well as the ones whose CDs I have who are self-taught seem to be inventive (i.e. they create and perform their own music) and rely more on hearing, though many can also read. I know this sounds stereotypical, but it really is true.

Tony


Last edited by TonyB; 04/29/16 08:23 PM.
Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2535311
04/29/16 09:37 PM
04/29/16 09:37 PM
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TonyB, could you share some names of pianists you listen to?


Piano Career Academy - Ilinca Vartic teaches the Russian school of piano playing
Musical-U - guidance for increasing musicality
Theta Music Trainer - fun ear training games
Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2535316
04/29/16 10:28 PM
04/29/16 10:28 PM
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Michelle McLaughlin, David Nevue, David Lanz, Liz Story, to name a few.

Tony




Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: fizikisto] #2535324
04/29/16 11:12 PM
04/29/16 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by fizikisto
I'll post my Lesson 1 review sometime tomorrow. Hopefully I'll have some useful things to say about it. smile


Looking forward to your comments! And I think I am now committed to starting the course next week . . .

Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2535332
04/30/16 12:14 AM
04/30/16 12:14 AM
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As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to use this thread as an opportunity to review the course and solidify what I have learned and am learning from it. So I’m going to (more or less) try to go back every week and review an old lesson starting from the beginning of the course. My hope is that my thoughts and comments will be useful for someone who is considering taking this course, and also for someone who is going through it. In any case, I just went back and rewatched and played through all the pieces from lesson 1. Here are my comments.

Lesson 1 of 52:

The course uses an old series of method books from the 1960’s-1980’s that seems no longer in print outside of Duane’s course, though apparently they used to be more widely sold. The versions that come with the course (at least the set I have) are in black and white. The originals were in black/white/red. For example, they used red dots on top of an image of the keys to show which notes to play for the various chords. On any such chord diagram with black note, the red dot doesn’t show up in the black and white reproduction. That’s a minor annoyance (Duane shows you exactly what notes to play in the videos) but it is a little annoying.

Some of the songs in the very beginning label every note with its letter name (C E G etc…). I’ve never liked that, but I bet a lot of beginners probably appreciate it. In the original versions of the method books, those letter names are also in red print. Actually, if you’re going to put the letter names next to the notes I think the black and white is probably better; it’s easier to read and less distracting. (For the curious, I managed to find a complete set of the original method books in pretty pristine condition on ebay so I now have both sets)

What’s really annoying about the versions that come with the course is that the page numbers are offset compared to the originals. The effect of that is that for a great many of the two page pieces that come in the books the pieces are on the front and back of a page, and thus require a page turn. I HATE turning pages. In the original books all the two page pieces were formatted on left-right page so that no turning was required. I use my original set for that reason (and for me, thankfully they do stop printing the note names next to the notes after a few pieces). If the need to page turn bother you, one can always make photocopies of the pages to avoid that:

Beginner Tip: I always like to make photocopies of scores that I play from books. I don’t like to mark up the originals, but I freely mark up the copies. I suggest that beginners should always feel free to make notes on the score to help them read it. Sometimes I’ll change the suggested fingering for something that’s more comfortable to my hand, for example, or I’ll highlight things that are tricky as a reminder to myself. Write in notes, draw arrows, do whatever will help you!

Beginner Tip #2: if you have an iPad or an iPad Pro (or presumably an android tablet) you can get a bluetooth pedal that will let you turn the page of any score you have on your device as a PDF or whatever. I don’t own one, but it might be something worth looking into if like me you hate page turning smile presumably one could use the camera to photograph the score and then turn the pages with the pedal. Note: I find the iPad just barely large enough for sheet music to be readable to my not quite old yet but getting there eyes….For sheet music applications I’d definitely recommend the larger iPad Pro tablet.

Anyway, I’ll quit rambling and get on to the lesson.

Lesson 1 starts with an introduction to the keyboard, the islands of black keys among the whites, and naming all the notes from A to G through various octaves, and then showing the location of middle C (next to two black keys, etc…). So pretty much like every first lesson of every beginner piano course ever. smile. It also introduces the use of the “magic keyboard chart” which fits behind the keys and shows the names of all the notes. This is meant to be a temporary crutch to help total newbies find the notes, but duane recommends using it only at the very beginning (if needed) and discarding it as soon as possible. In fact, I think it’s a gimmick and not needed, but if you have the course and are a complete beginner try it out to see if it helps.

The first piece introduced is a right hand melody line of “Merrily We Roll Along.” Then Duane introduces the first two pointer chords C and G. As mentioned before, the pointer chord is just the second inversion of the chord, which is useful because when you play it with your left hand you’re pointing at the root note of the chord (which gives the chord its name) with your index finger. It’s a bit weird to call it a pointer chord, but I suppose that for a beginner “C pointer chord” sounds much less intimidating than “second inversion of the C chord.” smile

Next Merrily we roll along is revisited in lead sheet format. So we see the melody notated in the treble clef and the chord symbols for the G and C chords indicated above the melody line in the appropriate place.

Before you play your first piece, Duane goes over how to hold your hands, how to find a proper and comfortable sitting position in front of the piano, etc…

Duane discusses the technique of practicing hands alone then hands together, and then has you playing your first piece (eventually)with both hands. Largo and Lightly Row are taught next in the same way.

Next is a discussion of of the Treble clef staff with ledger lines, how bar lines define different measures of music. Duane then discusses the three main elements of music, melody, harmony and rhythm. Quarter, half, dotted half, and whole notes are introduced along with a discussion of counting and how to do it properly

Next Duane introduces the F pointer chord and it is used in lead sheet version of Jingle Bells (the bass clef is later introduced in lesson 3)

Pop goes the weasel introduces the concept of 3-4 time signatures.

Drink to me only with thine eyes introduces the concept of tied notes (and is by far the prettiest tune covered in the first lesson)

Next is a further discussion of reading music. Duane talks about intervals (the distance between notes (steps and skips, 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, etc…) and how it relates to the written music).

Duane then discusses how to manage/balance the need to watch the score and see your hands as you are playing.

Aunt Rhody is the next song to provide more practice.

Beautiful Brown Eyes introduces the concept of rests (and makes use of the quarter rest) Another pretty tune.

“Folk song” is the next tune. Then there’s a (written) quiz of the material covered.

Then the lesson material is finished up with two additional practice songs, an old hymn, Jesus Lover of my soul and “melody” which is a simplified lead sheet arrangement of a Schuman piece.

Duane uses the supplementary songs to give a preview of what’s to come, as he shows you how to play it as written and then arranges it a few different ways on the fly (this is not an assignment yet, but just a demonstration). This really gives you an idea of how different this course is compared to others. And he only shows a few different techniques here, there are dozens and dozens taught through the course.

As is often the case, duane then recaps the lesson by demonstrating all the important points (which fingers are used on the melody, how to construct the pointer chords, etc… in a “close up” view which zooms in on his keyboard so that you can see exactly what his hands are doing.

As you can see, the first lesson actually covers quite a lot.

———————————

A note about the songs: Like many beginner methods, most of the music is old standards from the 1800’s that are out of copyright (there are also some classical pieces introduced in later lessons). A lot of folk song type stuff that can come across as a little cheesy. But I would say don’t be put off by this because when you start applying g arrangement techniques taught later in the course to these songs, you can really put your own spin on them and make them interesting and musical. it’s a lot of fun.

Anyway, my ramblings aside, I hope that was useful or interesting. If not, feel free to hit the back button and move on to another thread smile


Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800
Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: pwl] #2535335
04/30/16 12:30 AM
04/30/16 12:30 AM
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Originally Posted by pwl

Looking forward to your comments! And I think I am now committed to starting the course next week . . .


Pwl, Very cool! I hope that you'll pop in and let us know how the course is going for you. The more the merrier!


Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800
Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2535380
04/30/16 05:17 AM
04/30/16 05:17 AM
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The early stages of the course may seem easy and/or over simplified, however Duane makes the point that everybody should play through all of it, not skipping anything. One reason for this is, as he says, the books are only a part of the course. There is a lot of information and tips n the videos that the books do not contain. Also, it is in the early stages, when the going is relatively easy, that we form the habits and the pace that we will probably adhere to throughout the course. Therefore, if we are to stick with it, forming good habits and a relaxed pace now, will pay off big dividends later on.

Duane talks about really learning each piece. There is good reason for that. If we "kinda sorta" learn these pieces, we are not really getting into our hands the things they need to be able to do, that the later lessons are built on. We can risk gradually falling behind until we reach a point at which it is a real struggle to move forward.

It is in the second lesson, I believe, that Duane starts talking about things we can do with our left hand that are not written in the book at that point. He demonstrates playing the left hand chord on counts 1 and 3 (i.e. twice per measure) and on every beat. This may seem trivial, but it goes a long way toward developing hand independence, not to mention adding interest to the arrangement. It is an invitation to begin experimenting with ways we can play a tune that deviate from the written music. He presents these ideas as suggestions, saying that we don't have to do that now because these ideas will be introduced in the playing later on. Duane will make suggestions of things to experiment with, but he does not want to overwhelm us by making these ideas mandatory too early in the course.

On the CD that you listen to at the end of the second week, he introduces the idea of ear training, and suggests incorporating this into our daily practice. He suggests learning to hear the various intervals (which he explains quite well), and then later on, chords and their inversions. In the main course, as well as on that CD, he explains and demonstrates all these terms as they are introduced. He further suggests we begin to really listen to the music we hear all around us, from the car next to us pounding out the big beat, to music we hear in stores, etc. Begin hearing the rhythms, then the intervals in the melody, and then the chords, as we become more familiar with these in our ear training and lessons.

In a sense, as you progress through the course, the piano becomes more and more a part of your life. We begin to become much more aware of the music around us, incorporating what we hear into our playing. If we see another person do something interesting on the piano such as a particular run or chord pattern, Duane suggests we ask that person to show us what s/he did. Be curious, soaking up all the musical activity going on around us and incorporate that into our own playing.

In this course, essentially Duane is leading us into becoming musicians so that our involvement with the piano is fed from all other aspects of our lives. There is a whole other dimension to the lesson books, and Duane shows how to find and incorporate that into our practice. If we do the things he suggests, we will always be thinking about and experiencing music and the piano, which is far more interesting than just sitting at the piano doing exactly what the sheet music tells us to do, and having that as our only goal. In Duane's course, music becomes a living and vibrant part of our lives, lesson by lesson.

Edit: Duane also addresses the question of whether to stick purely with the music in the lessons or if we should also play other music. He says that, by all means, play all manner of music. The more you read, the better you get. In one of the additional DVDs that you watch early on, he explains how to analyze sheet music so you begin to recognize the chords, the sections of the overall piece, etc. He demonstrates this on a couple of classical pieces. As we learn more about music theory in the course, we become more able to do this sort of analysis, which in turn helps us memorize pieces and understand better how music is put together. This will certainly help us to create our own music, should we choose to do that too.

So, Duane encourages us to explore all manner of music outside the confines of the course books. The more we do this, the better we get at doing this and the more interested we remain throughout the course. It is up to each of us individually how much exploring we do, but the invitation is definitely there to apply what we are learning in the course to any other music we wish to play.

Tony


Last edited by TonyB; 04/30/16 05:24 AM.
Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2535410
04/30/16 08:09 AM
04/30/16 08:09 AM
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Lots of good advice there. I've been thinking a lot about how I've been approaching this course and I wonder if I'm going about applying the arrangement techniques in the best way. Typically I go through a lesson piece by piece. That is, I'll play a piece as written. then I'll play the assigned arrangement techniques for that piece before moving on to the next piece. That approach is kind of implied, but I don't think ever stated by Duane. I may try experimenting with that. Like work on all the pieces in the as written first then going back and arranging them. That will have me playing the pieces for a few days going back and forth between them, which might help my learning (another kind of spaced repetition) so that when I start arranging them I might have them better under my fingers because I've already been working on them a few days. Or maybe it wold be better to do it in chunks. go through 3 or 4 pieces as written and go back and forth with arranging them before moving on to the next set of 3 or 4 pieces. I think I'm going to experiment with that over the next few weeks and see if it makes a difference. It may not matter at all. But there might be a more efficient approach. When you went through some of the course before did you experiment with anything like that? Of course, it might be that the most efficient approach for me is the least efficient one for you (and vice verse). I know you're restarting at the beginning as you redo the course so it will be awhile before you have to address this again, but I thought it might be worth thinking about so I thought I'd mention it. smile


Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800
Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2535418
04/30/16 08:35 AM
04/30/16 08:35 AM
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Fizikisto,

When I was working with the course prior to this, I tended to just play the pieces until I got through them. I stopped at the point when Duane was introducing "stride" in the left hand. He has another name for it that I don't recall offhand, but most people know it as "stride" with the left hand playing the root or octave down low and "striding" up to play the chord, sort of "boom chick" sound under the melody in the right hand. In other words, I really didn't develop my hands' ability to really move around on the keyboard enough to be able to get through that lesson on "stride". I am approaching it differently now.

Based on re-listening to the extra DVDs and CD, my approach will be to work on each lesson as Duane says, and then OUTSIDE my lesson practice time, experiment applying those techniques to other music (also, as Duane says). I have plenty of fakebooks, from easy to the standard stuff pro musicians use (i.e. the Real Books).

One thing I have been thinking about as I post here, is that I am barely into the course (halfway through lesson 3), so I really don't feel I have the "right" to speak authoritatively on it yet. The burning question (I would think) if I were reading this thread would be, "yeah, a lot of words and posts, but can he REALLY play?". I want to set a goal for myself that after I complete lesson 17, I want to put up either a video or an MP3 of myself playing a tune and applying the techniques as Duane does in the video for that lesson. At that point, I will be much more comfortable telling everybody how great the course is. Until then, there is always the possibility that I suddenly disappear after having posted hundreds or thousands of words about this wonderful course. The real questions to be answered for a prospective student are whether one can stay motivated in a course like this long enough to really learn to play, and does the course REALLY deliver. I will be able to directly answer both of those if I can deliver as the lesson 17 video does. This, then, is what is missing from most every thread about any self-study course. The exception was Seaside Lee, who posted many videos of himself playing what he learned from the Piano Magic site. I wonder what happened to him, since I have not seen anything from him in quite some time, nor from Swingin Barb, another who posted her playing as learned in the Sudnow method. Those are the only two I can think of who did this, among the many who have posted about having started one or another of the self-study courses. This fact is always brought up by those who are taking formal lessons and are posting in monthly recitals.

I am not saying that you or anybody else should (or should not) post videos or MP3s (and maybe you already have), but instead naming the "elephant in the living room" about these kinds of threads. I feel a bit of a phony "waxing poetic" here about a course I have barely touched. You have almost completed it and have, in a sense, "earned your stripes" with it. I have not (yet...).

Tony


Last edited by TonyB; 04/30/16 08:37 AM.
Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2535433
04/30/16 09:35 AM
04/30/16 09:35 AM
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Before going off to my activities for the day (including the piano), I should address the points you (Fizikisto) brought up in your last post.

People have said that I am a "linear thinker". I tend to start at the beginning and work through to the end of a project. If I skip around or stop at some point, it is really difficult for me to get going again. I say that because we all have different ways of approaching things, so the things I express in this thread may have absolutely no bearing for anybody else. By telling how I work, at least you will have context for why I say and do the things I do. It is a matter of "take what you need and leave the rest".

So, my approach to the 52 week course will be very linear in that I will work on the lesson every day, starting the next day where I left off the previous day, and taking enough notes as I go along to be able to do that. It may take a few days to get through a lesson, or it may take a few weeks, but either way, it is still lesson after lesson for 52 lessons.

Duane, as I mentioned in a previous post, suggests several activities that are optional, similar to extra credit work in a college course. These activities will serve to deepen the musical experience and make us better musicians in the end.

To me, these suggestions are things to do outside the practice time I set aside for the course. That way, I can approach the course in my linear fashion, which will help insure that I really do complete it, while at the same time, I can skip around with various other pieces of music and the ear training activities, and have no negative/distracting impact on my work with the course itself. These activities I want to approach in a curious and playful manner, enjoying playing around with the things I am learning in the course.

For my style of learning, this will provide a nice balance and will keep things interesting. However, I will also be spending much more time with the piano, and much less time talking about it here.

The remainder of this post is finishing out the commentary about myself and self-learning the piano in general that has been a thread-within-a-thread for the past several of my posts...

I have needed to take an honest and rather blunt look at myself to really get in touch with why I am so good at spending the time to find and buy these courses and even a Roland V-Grand, and so good at posting a lot, but still can't play piano anywhere near where I would be if talking about it was as good as actually doing the work. It is harsh, but hopefully not interpreted as being toward anybody else. I needed to get things said that others in various sub-forums have long hinted at about us self-learners so that I could look at the real truth fearlessly and admit it in public. Only then can I get straight about what I am really doing here.

What I have said need not apply to anybody else here. If any here feel that these do apply, then it is up to you, and not me, take your own "inventory" and get straight with yourself about what you are really doing and why. What I am saying in my posts is really taking my own inventory in public, and reflecting on how true the observations others who do have "real" teachers are as they apply to me and self-study courses. The only way I know of to fix it is to identify and admit it head on, rather than rationalize or deny the truth about myself, and then move on in a (hopefully) better direction.

I don't feel that I need to continue posting about this aspect of my approach (or, rather, not approach) to the 52 week course. The only thing I can do from here is to either do it or don't do it. Every day from here on presents that simple choice. If I am still working on it by lesson 17, I will know that there is success with it in my future and I will have something to show others for all the talk and effort.

Tony


Last edited by TonyB; 04/30/16 09:38 AM.
Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2535437
04/30/16 09:58 AM
04/30/16 09:58 AM
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TonyB
Good points! Though I still have a long way to go before I'm finished with the course! I have made good, if slow, progress through it. I actually enjoyed going back through the very first lesson last night. I remembered how much I struggled with those damned arrows! LOL (the ones indicating a repeat chord, the first time I went through the course I always wanted to switch chords when I saw the arrow). Anyway, it really did show me how far I've come since then. I just spent a couple of hours playing all the pieces, I even played them with some different chord inversions than the pointer chords to to play around with different sounds. I may go back later this week and play around with arranging them before i redo lesson 2.

And yeah, one of the reasons i've moved so slowly through the course is because I tend to do stuff with other "more interesting" music from fake books and chord charts. So playing from outside stuff can be good but it can also slow your progress. Going slow is not a bad thing, and It can be more fun that way. But one does have to balance it with actually keeping progress through the course imo. I think there's a certain momentum that one should try to maintain. But at the same time, one could blaze through the course and really end up being a bit sloppy. I tend to want everything yesterday so I may be a bit guilty of that at times. That's one of the reasons I wanted review the old lessons on this thread. As i go through the old lessons, I'm trying to be very strict. Slow steady progress...that's my goal. I know how compound interest works. that's my model. smile

Re: the "stride" yes, that's hard. I think it's like lesson 7 or 8 where you really start applying it, and it took me a month to get through that lesson. Did I mention that it's hard? Also, you may be misremembering the terminology because Duane calls it by different names. In the books it's called "pointer bass" so Duane calls it that when he's going through the book, but when he's just talking about it he calls it by other names. Generally in 3-4 time where you play root-chord-chord he calls that swing bass, and in 4-4 time where you're playing root-chord-root-chord he sometimes calls that continuity bass.

But whatever you call it, it's hard. (yeah there's a theme heheh) So don't feel bad if you get stuck on it for awhile. I know I did. I think the secret to getting it down is to practice it slowly. Nope...let me try that again. the secret is to practice it S-l-o-w-l-y smile. I also found that with lots and lots of practice I could learn to do it with my eyes closed about 80-90% of the time - which is not great, but if I combine it with looking down only occasionally it lets me keep my eyes on the score more than looking down for every jump. For me that's been kind of a goal with songs that use that technique (or when I'm using it to arrange a song that doesn't), keep my eyes on the score as much as possible. For me, that's helped a lot. Your mileage may vary of course.

The good news is that once you get it down on a few songs, it gets MUCH easier to do with new songs. I still have to slow way down when I practice it on a new song because the chord progression is different and of course my right hand is doing different things, but I can pick it up a lot faster on a new song now. I think by the time I get all the way through the course it will probably become second nature for me.

by the way, I'm glad that you started this thread. I'm enjoying the discussion and I think it will help keep me focused and motivated as I continue to progress. smile


Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800
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